The president has been hospitalized. As always, America’s adversaries will examine this unusual development, looking for ways to use it to their advantage—either to weaken or threaten the United States. Fortunately, they won’t find much to work with.
For starters, they’ve watched America weather COVID for over six months. They’ve seen that it’s had near zero impact on U.S. foreign policy.
American soldiers and Marines remain deployed around the world. Our ships are on station. Our planes are flying.
American diplomacy is as robust as ever. In fact, this week while the president recuperated at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Defense Secretary Mark Esper was wrapping up a four-country tour of Northern Africa and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, newly returned from South America, went back on the road to Japan.
Further, any adversary worthy of the name who has studied the U.S. knows that America has robust means to ensure continuity of operations in the federal government and an ironclad legal system to ensure presidential authority is unaffected by illness, calamity or malicious activity.
In particular, post-9/11, much was done to update and strengthen the U.S. protocols that ensure continuity of government. We have come a long way from the days when Vice President Dick Cheney had to be tucked away at an undisclosed location. From the White House bunker to Air Force One, the government’s ability to communicate—both domestically and with friends and allies across the globe—is far more resilient, secure and assured now than it was even under threat of all-out nuclear conflict during the Cold War.
From an adversary’s perspective, there are also few obvious opportunities for making mischief that would hurt the U.S. without incurring significant risks for the instigator. Region by region, U.S. policy has been pretty strong, leaving no obvious gaps to exploit.
There is the oft-stated concern that America’s enemies would use this opportunity to flood the U.S. with disinformation, inflaming doubt and discord. Perhaps, but how would we know? The volume on domestic discord is turned up so loud, what could an adversary accomplish? Should they try to inject something into the conversation, it would be like yelling fire at a (pre-COVID) Super Bowl stadium with the score tied, the ball on the 20, and 10 seconds left in overtime. Their voice would be lost amid the din of 80,000 screaming fans.
Perhaps the most persuasive dissuader to foreign mischief is the fact that—despite the pandemic of conjecture and rumor sweeping through America’s chattering class—there is zero hard evidence that the president’s ability to be president has been seriously impaired. Even while receiving treatment at Walter Reed, he continues to competently perform his duties.
If anything, this incident has served to show why Americans express increasingly less confidence in much of mainstream media and the political class. Far too many have forsaken objective, fact-checked reporting and responsible commentary in favor of creating controversy, stoking fear and trying to score partisan political points.
From “Saturday Night Live” to the Sunday morning news shows, a desperate attempt to exploit the president’s illness is painfully evident. In the past, when presidents were hospitalized, the normal response was simply to pray for swift recovery. Most Americans would appreciate a little more such normalcy from those in positions of power and influence. Sadly, we’ve come to learn not to expect it. So perhaps even this aspect of the president’s hospital stay hasn’t disturbed Americans that much.
In an unprecedented year with more ups and downs than a season of “Designated Survivor,” the president’s bout with COVID so far has perhaps been the least disruptive event in the lives of everyday Americans.
This piece originally appeared in Fox News