Service of Standing Up to Power When Health is Involved

October 5th, 2020

Categories: Mask, Pandemic, Political Campaign, Politicians, Politics, Rules, Social Distancing

Why does someone charged with upholding rules cave?

Most people follow the rules. You brake at red lights, stay within the speed limit [pretty much], especially at school crossings and in bad weather, wear a seat belt and don’t smoke in public places. If stopped you apologize to the authorities who catch you and do what they say.

There would be chaos if most didn’t react to warnings and requests to comply. Yet some act as though they are exempt and unstoppable regardless of the stakes.

Jason Abbruzzese, a blogger for, wrote that the moderator of the presidential debate last week, Chris Wallace, “noted that Trump’s family members present at the debate did not abide by the mask mandates put in place by the Cleveland Clinic.  ‘The interesting thing was that the Cleveland Clinic said that everybody in the hall with the exception of the president the vice president and myself had to wear a mask,’ Wallace said.”

The Center for Disease Control [CDC] is clear: it “calls on Americans to wear masks to prevent COVID-19 spread.” In a July 14 CDC press release: “There is increasing evidence that cloth face coverings help prevent people who have COVID-19 from spreading the virus to others.”

Abbruzzese continued “Trump’s group wore masks as they entered the hall but took them off when they sat down. According to NBC News reporters who attended the debate, a doctor from the Cleveland Clinic tried to offer some of the group masks but was waived away.” In addition, this group had arrived late to the debate and were not tested as was the rest of the audience.

On Sunday, Fox News Sunday anchor Wallace grilled Trump Senior Advisor Steve Cortes asking, about the Trump family, “why didn’t the rules apply to them?” Cortes accused Wallace of haranguing him as he did the president during the debate. Wallace said that the Commission on Presidential Debates revised its rules: anyone without a mask will be kicked out, ejected next time.

Clearly nobody followed CDC guidelines in the Rose Garden at the White House regarding social distancing at the Supreme Court nomination ceremony on September 26 for Judge Amy Coney Barrett. Hugging and handshaking happened as though it was 2019. Reckless gathering happened at a reception indoors as well, mid-pandemic, where few masks were worn. Video clips of the garden show none who have subsequently tested positive wore a mask: Kellyanne Conway, Chris Christie, Republican Senators Thom Tillis, N.C., Mile Lee, Utah, Ron Johnson, Wis. and Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C. president of Notre Dame. Who knows where the first lady and Donald Trump were exposed.

At least Rev. Jenkins apologized. According to a Facebook posting by America Magazine: “‘I regret my error of judgment in not wearing a mask during the ceremony and by shaking hands with a number of people in the Rose Garden,'” Jenkins wrote in a Monday letter to students, faculty and staff. ‘I failed to lead by example, at a time when I’ve asked everyone else in the Notre Dame community to do so.'”

Anyone else? Yesterday, on Face the Nation, Trump campaign senior advisor Jason Miller complained “Biden uses masks as a prop.”

The mountain of doctors on the steps of Walter Reed Medical Center on Sunday, some of the best minds in the world watching over the president’s every breath and course of illness, show that they are turning their attention and expertise to cure a sick chief of state. However I thought of the 208,000+ dead citizens who didn’t enjoy such care during the months the administration downplayed the severity of coronavirus and scoffed at the protocols and measures science claims will help stop it. Will Congress take a second look, before it takes further steps in November to repeal the Affordable Care Act, so during the crisis, if not the future, millions maintain insurance stability for the little care they currently get?

When compliance can mean life or death, should the Cleveland Clinic doctor have insisted–or someone come on a loudspeaker to announce–that those who refuse to wear masks please leave the auditorium? Why didn’t this happen? What are people afraid of? What are the rules for if anyone is exempt?

How come the White House ignores CDC protocols and guidelines for its guests and visitors and why do the latter play along? Who do they think masks and social distancing are meant for? Do you think those who before didn’t believe they served a purpose will do so now? Can we expect enforcers to put more muscle behind mask wearing and social distancing no matter who refuses them?  Have you witnessed other examples of people who think they are above the rules and of someone who stood up to them? What is the worst that can happen to the person who does?

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15 Responses to “Service of Standing Up to Power When Health is Involved”

  1. Hank Goldman Said:

    Your questions are my questions! Why? Why? Why?

    How is this allowed to go on. We know what will slow down the virus and yet the people on top do not follow any of the protocols.

    When you get an answer to all the questions that you ask… Please, please do let me know!

    Makes no sense whatsoever – why not lead the country in a good and safe direction instead of stupidity?

  2. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I fear the answers are politics and macho.

    Libertarians don’t like to be told what to do. My answer to them is to find a society in which nobody tells anyone what to do but while here, and when actions impact others, play by the safety and health rules. I imagine that a chunk of conservatives who want things the way they have always been share this with libertarians.

    Explaining macho when it involves extreme risk-taking or belittling science is above my pay grade. I’m in awe of those who risk their lives to save the sick during the pandemic and victims of horrific fires, soldiers and police. Where would we be without these brave people? Those who scale mountain cliffs and survive rides on gargantuan waves are proving something to themselves. But putting a finger in the eye of protocols meant to protect others doesn’t fit any definition of macho to me.

  3. BC Said:

    Rose Garden without masks and social distancing is a disgrace.
    They fumbled the ball on that one. What where they thinking?
    They should have been setting an example for the country.
    Himself was not wearing a mask while standing next to the judge.
    Bet he changes things, but it is too little too late

  4. Amanda Ripanykhazova Said:

    I dont think it is fair to say “What are the rules for if anyone is exempt?” The only exempt people apparently were the people with the virus. They seem to have been the only ones affected, – as are all the Herman Cains at Trump’s death rallies.

    This is surely the sort of Darwinian selection admirably written about in Wendy Northcutt’s books THE DARWIN AWARDS. They concern people, – selflessly, – electing to remove their genes from the pool and is well worth a read!


  5. Jeanne Byington Said:


    For those who are positive and who become sick as a result of attending the Rose Garden event it’s too late. I hope that nobody else who was exposed comes down with the virus.

    But while he has the bully pulpit DJT could do a lot of good by promoting the dickens out of safety measures regarding Covid-19 to turn around the rate of incidence. He isn’t known for apologies but if he did the right thing it would count for a lot.

  6. Jeanne Byington Said:


    Unfortunately many if not all of those who tested positive have already spawned offspring. I don’t think attending events with others who spit in the face laws of common sense and science means you’re stupid. It means you have no backbone. Would therapy help?

    For some reason your comment reminded me of one of DJT’s 2016 promises to “drain the swamp.” Wonder if this is what he meant.

  7. Lucrezia Said:

    Be patient. The virus gives no quarter to blowhards, and should current nonchalance persist, illness, perhaps deaths among the top echelons will soar. It could get bad enough that few, if anyone is around to explain. Scary, isn’t it?

  8. Jeanne Byington Said:


    Yes it is scary.

    I worry about the innocent victims, such as he work staff at the NJ Trump golf club who had no choice but to serve him and the 200 guests at the fundraiser last Thursday. Will they be paid for the 14 days they should quarantine? What about if on top of the two weeks they get sick? Anyone going to pay them for the medical expenses if they don’t have insurance and time off to recover?

    The workers at the Rose Garden event might be government employees and my guess is that they will be paid under the same circumstances as Trump’s employees. I hope that they do not get sick.

  9. Jeanne Byington Said:


    Having just read his Tweet, I see that the president hasn’t learned anything and doesn’t seem to realize that few if any US citizens can afford the care and vigilance to our conditions that he has received by some of the best minds in medicine. The disease remains one to be wary of.

    His tweet in a clip from FOX News:

    “I will be leaving the great Walter Reed Medical Center today at 6:30 P.M,” the president tweeted. “Feeling really good! Don’t be afraid of Covid. Don’t let it dominate your life. We have developed, under the Trump Administration, some really great drugs & knowledge. I feel better than I did 20 years ago!”

    As I wrote in the post, I think a head of state deserves the best care possible but this person must understand that some of the medicines available to him won’t be available to the 7,662,635 currently diagnosed for a long time. In addition, what hospital can gather such a medical team and such watchfulness for so many?

  10. Lucrezia Said:

    Those remarks were not limited to Fox News. The man isn’t playing with fire, but rather toying with a hand grenade or time bomb. He might have to learn how not to behave the hard way, and if so, the nation will be forced to bear much of the cost.

  11. jmbyington Said:


    I attributed the copy to Fox because I was lazy. I could have untangled his tweet from the rest of the copy and I didn’t. It was all over TV and in all venues as you pointed out because it was inflammatory.

    When DJT removed his mask before entering our house – – the White House – – he also spit in the face of all of us as we are all potentially targets for this horrible disease especially if people continue to conduct themselves in an irresponsible careless way. By tossing his mask he showed extraordinary disrespect for the people who work in the White House given his diagnosis.

    Your reference to hand grenade is apt.

  12. Martha Takayama Said:

    I am so outraged by all the activity described in this blog and so concerned by the questions it addresses that I have to collect myself before answering.

    When compliance can mean life or death there should be no room for disobedience to the applicable rules. Rank. position, title, or power should categorically not be criteria for permission to violate those rules. Rather those in a position of authority should set an example by adhering to what is required.

    Behavior like that of Donald Trump, who continues to ignore any and all rules for hygiene and prevention of contagion from the pandemic, actually is murderous and totally without conscience.

    The Cleveland Clinic doctor should have insisted that those who refused to comply with the mandate to wear masks leave the auditorium immediately, covering their face with their hands or an article of clothing as they did so. The callous disregard for the lives of others is not to be tolerated.

    In the case of the doctor or Chris Wallace, the moderator, the proceedings should have been brought to a halt, even cancelled if there was not full cooperation. In a situation such as the debate, those in charge would logically fear incurring the wrath of the President, his family, the television networks, their sponsors. and his supporters as well as the loss of their jobs. However, it also could be a shining moment to act heroically on behalf of mankind, to set a standard for actually acknowledging the power and horror of the pandemic. Any spokesperson for the hospital should have been adamant in insisting on any and all medical protocols being observed. The Hippocratic oath should override the fear of offending any unconscionable figure, public or otherwise. Furthermore we are not a monarchy!

    The White House ignores CDC protocols and guidelines, but then the CDC has been successfully stripped globally of any credibility and prestige by the ignorant, delusional and ultimately genocidal behavior of the President. It is impossible to understand what makes people go along with this destructive behavior. It seems as if these followers have no intellect, no judgment, and no self-respect. Many followers refuse to change their behavior despite the ever-increasing number of people who have tested positive from engaging in crowded activities filled with other unmasked people. I am totally unmoved by the meaningless hypocritical apologies of Rev. Jenkins. or anyone else who behaved in such an irresponsible fashion. It is immature, foolish and unbefitting a responsible adult.

    The pathological, genocidal Trump is the Commander-in-Chief of the medical doctors caring for him who have succumbed to the deterioration of any and all who acquiesce to him. Their credibility and their dignity are gone, but perhaps they should reflect on the aftermath of World War II and the Nuremberg Trials. Do they remember the phrase “I was just following orders”?

  13. Jeanne Byington Said:


    Chris Wallace wasn’t aware of what was going on in the auditorium. He had his part in the debate to focus on. However, he spoke with others afterwards for a picture of the no mask scenario.

    The Trump group all had masks: They walked into the auditorium with them on and removed them when they sat down. They might have been refused entrance without them. The other terrible thing is that every other person in the room EXCEPT the Trump contingent were given covid tests. Because they were late they were all “on their honor” to be covid-free. I wonder if Trump wanted to avoid a test and if he already knew he tested positive. I wouldn’t put it past him. It would ruin his plans.

    It is unreasonable to expect others to do your dirty work and I understand why the Biden side of the auditorium didn’t say anything but I will enjoy a conjecture: What if they demanded that the others put on masks or they would demand a delay until they did.

    As far as the collaborators in the Rose Garden, I have no words. I cannot believe that they all–including the president–had such disrespect for one another and all the people they know whom they endangered with a life-threatening disease.

  14. MarthaTakayama Said:

    It certainly seems that the Trump contingent were indulged by being permitted to enter the room after showing up too late to have covid tests. The arrival was deliberate and should have made entry not permissible. The Trump faction should have been given a choice of immediately putting their masks back on or exiting the room. The proceedings should have been held up or postponed for testing no matter what the consequences,since the odds were life/death. Full blame should have been placed on Trump and his entourage. There can be no more indulging of their callous and criminal behavior. Mankind cannot afford it.

  15. Jeanne Byington Said:


    We have already paid far too dearly for the mistakes of this crew. They threw their weight around before their father/father-in-law became president; it has only gotten worse. People don’t do well in the heat of the moment when confronted by well-trained bullies. Look at the doctors who permitted the president to enter an SUV endangering the secret service staff for a frivolous reason–to wave at his fans! And doctors are used to being treated with respect, their orders carried out.

    Plus their patient wasn’t in the hospital to have his toenails clipped. He was sick and contagious.

    Well known is that a bully often caves when stood up to. Will a chunk of the 40 percent who have up to now supported DJT finally stand up to him now–at the ballot box?

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