But he insisted Wednesday that he did, in fact, wear a mask during his Arizona visit — but not when the cameras were around.
“I had a mask on for a period of time,” Trump said in the Oval Office on Wednesday. “I had it on back — backstage. But they said you didn’t need it, so, I didn’t need it. And by the way, if you noticed, nobody else had it on that was in the group.”
There’s SO much going on in that quote.
The insistence that he wore a mask — you just didn’t see it! And that’s not his fault! (According to a Honeywell spokesman, Trump was permitted not to wear a mask.)
But the really telling part of that quote is Trump’s use of “backstage” to describe where he had a mask on. As in, when he went on stage — meaning, in this context, where there were TV cameras rolling and photographers taking his picture — he didn’t wear the mask.
Which raises a simple question: Why? After all, if he had one on at some point, why not just leave it on as a way to model proper behavior to the public?
I have an answer!
Remember that Trump views his entire presidency through the lens of television — mostly reality TV and cable news. He is very, very focused on how he is portrayed and perceived. And he wants the image that the public gets of him to be that of a strong and fearless leader.
Which, in his mind, does not include wearing a mask when he is, uh, on stage.
So, mask-wearing is fine, in Trump’s mind, when you are backstage. But it’s not the sort of thing that he does when people, you know, are actually watching.
The problem? We are entering a period of time — with more states reopening even as coronavirus continues to sicken 30,000+ people a day nationally — in which wearing a mask in public settings may be our best defense against another surge of the virus.
But Trump’s not going to that. Why? Because he doesn’t want to.
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