If you, like the rest of us, were baffled by the vague language and non-specific messages that President Donald Trump’s doctor Sean Conley appeared to be using all weekend, the president’s estranged niece Mary Trump has helpfully provided a way to look into her uncle’s soul. She told NPR that she had not heard from her family about her uncle’s medical condition, and that they couldn’t rely on the information from his medical team “which is unfortunate because we need as much accurate information as possible,” she said in an interview. 

But it appears the way the president managed the message he sent to the public with regard to COVID-19 was very much in keeping with what Mary said was her family’s reaction to illness of any kind. “It was unacceptable and a display of unforgivable weakness, which sounds incredible and cruel but happens to be true. And when I say ‘illness’ I mean both physical illness over which nobody has any control necessarily, but also — in the case of my grandmother who had osteoperosis — that was not really tolerated or dealt with in any direct way.”

“It also has to do with things like addiction, and my dad was an alcoholic,” Trump added. “In my family it was treated as a moral failing.”

Mary Trump says her family considered illness as a sign of weakness

Mary Trump told NPR that her grandfather never got sick, saying, “…between that and my grandfather’s adherence to Norman Vincent Peale’s power of positive thinking, which he took to such an extreme level that it was toxic because it left no room for expressions of what he considered negativity of any kind, you know, sadness, despair, being physically ill.”

It also helps to explain Sean Conley’s vague comments on his patient’s illness, from whether Trump had a fever to whether he had received supplemental oxygen. After obfuscating on the president’s COVID-19 timeline and his medication, Conley had offered this clarification: “I didn’t want to give any information that might steer the course of illness in another direction, and in doing so, you know, it came off that we were trying to hide something, which wasn’t necessarily true.” White House communications adviser, Alyssa Farah said: “When you’re treating a patient, you want to project confidence, you want to lift their spirits, and that was the intent” (via New York Times).

A day after the news broke that her uncle had taken ill, Mary Trump had tweeted: “I reserve my sympathy, empathy, and despair for those who are sick and for those who have died because they were misled, lied to, or ignored. Wear a f***ing mask. #VOTE”.

Mary’s last tweet was a call to action: “Gloves off. #VOTE #BidenHarris2020”

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