Everything we need to know we learned in kindergarten

I think this is a good time for us all to be calm and think through the process of how we wear masks, how we wash our hands, and what we can do to protect ourselves.

Trini Mathew, Beaumont Health

Quoted in a recent article by Detroit Free Press reporter Kristen Jordan Shamus, epidemiologist Trini Mathew sounds like a preschool teacher laying out the basic rules of classroom society for a group of three-year-olds. That’s the age I was in the painting of my sister and me, copied from a black and white photograph by the artist Esther Garcia Eder, a dear Amerson family friend from our overseas years.

Epidemiologist Trini Mathew was not addressing toddlers but rather speaking to us all in the context of Donald Trump’s COVID illness for which he was hospitalized over the weekend at Walter Reed Medical Center. Speaking to entitled Americans — The rules don’t apply to us! — is exactly like speaking to children. Epidemiologists from Mathew to Anthony Fauci have repeated the same instructions for seven months now.

  • Wear a mask.
  • Follow social distancing.
  • Wash your hands.
  • Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

How they have managed to not simply explode in frustration is a testament of their character and professionalism.

When our daughter was little, she had little understanding of the difference between knowing something and truly mastering it. One lesson — tennis, ice skating — was enough to convince her that “I know how to play tennis.”

Hey, when I watch the golfers on TV, I know everything they are doing. Sometimes, I even convince myself that, with a little media attention and that wonderful camera tracking of the ball, I could produce the same shot. In my mind, “I know that.”

Trump is spinning the same logic.

It’s been a very interesting journey. I learned a lot about COVID. I get it, I understand it.

President Donald Trump, from Walter Reed Hospital, professing knowledge about COVID-19

For a minute, we hoped this was true. That he’d been humbled by the virus, brought to his knees by the apolitical facts. Then, he said this.

I feel I could go out and do a rally.

President Donald Trump speaking from his hospital bed at Walter Reed

And he did this.

Every single person in the vehicle during that completely unnecessary presidential drive by just now has to be quarantined for 14 days. They might get sick. They may die. For political theater. Commanded by Trump to put their lives at risk for theater. This is insanity. The irresponsibility is astounding.

Dr. James Phillps, Walter Reed Hospital

And then Trump said this.

Don’t be afraid of COVID. Don’t let it dominate your life.

Donald Trump, as he returned to the White House from Walter Reed Hospital

Tell that to the families of more than 207,000 Americans who have died of the Coronavirus, 2,000 of them while he was at Walter Reed. Tell that to the White House staff administrative staff who are infected, and all the rest who are in quarantine. Tell that to the men and women who are tending to him at the White House, butlers and maids wearing PPE. We hope.

If we’re trying to lend a hint of superhero qualities to a president who tells us to live with the virus while he receives care unavailable to ordinary losers I’d go with this: PRESIDENT DONALD J TRUMP, SUPERSPREADER.

Dana Milbank

No, Trump has not learned a thing. But, after all, as Tom Lehrer said in his satirical song, “New Math:”

It’s so simple, so very simple, that only a child can do it.

Tom Lehrer
Tom Lehrer: In new math,
“It’s more important to understand what you’re doing instead of getting the right answer.”