The Ultimate Egoist

Photograph by Nathaniel St. Clair

Just the other day, when he finally got Covid -19, President Trump declared that now he really understood the disease. Now, nine months since epidemiological experts first began to explain its extreme danger and  contagion, during which he had endless warnings from the WHO and CDC, when he participated in daily briefings on the course of the disease from the likes of Dr. Anthony Fauci, and, above all, after more than seven million Americans contracted Covid and more than 200,000 died of it. Now he finally gets it. Only AFTER HE GO IT can he understand it. Unless he gets himself, it’s not real.

But in fact, he doesn’t get it. While highly contagious himself, he orchestrates an unmasked stunt, waving to supporters from a closed car with several Secret Srevice  personnel in it. Forcing the doctors to discharge him from the hospital, he then returns to the White House—likewise endangering Marine personnel on the closed heliocopter— where he immediately takes off his mask amid a number of Whitehouse staff. Thereupon he makes  a video broadcast again assuring the nation that he now understands the disease, now that HE has had it,  and that like HIS miraculous recovery, there’s nothing to fear from’s no big deal. In other words, by virtue of his new and deep appreciation of Covid 19, it not only is of ho consequence that people are dying from it, he his prepared to spread it himself—to the whole country.

Trump’s egoism is only matched by his sociopathic disdain for the suffering of others. He must think that those who, with his encouragement, will die from Covid 19 for the Dow and his re-election are just losers.


Marshall Sahlins is the Charles F. Grey Distinguished Service Professor emeritus of anthropology at the University of Chicago. His books include: Stone Age Economics, The Western Illusion of Human Nature and On Kings (with David Graeber).