Most people think Donald Trump recovered from Covid. He didn't. It killed him.
I am speaking of course about politics, not mere life. Four years ago, I was certain Trump would win the election. Today, I'm just as sure he will lose here tomorrow.
Why? It's not his incessant whoppers, well documented by the Washington Post at more than 22,000 false or misleading claims to date. It's not the allegations of corruption because his businesses get money from foreign nations as well as US agencies.
It's not his public fondness for dictators like Putin and Kim, while attacking America's oldest friends like France, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. It's not tearing up useful treaties like the Paris Climate Accords, Nafta or Iranian Nuclear Agreement.
It's not his incoherent 3am tweets that remind you of a demented uncle. It's not our Mueller Report into alleged obstruction of justice to hide Russian campaign assistance. It's also not his January impeachment for allegedly coercing Ukraine to find dirt on Joe Biden. It's not Trump's race-based comments, like when he called for a ban on Muslim immigrants, labelled Mexicans "rapists" or refused to condemn swastika-waving Nazis at a US demo. It's not the 26 women who claim he sexually assaulted them (allegations he denies). It's not even Trump's frequent suggestions that he won't leave office if he loses, or his scary musings on becoming President for Life. And it's not about his callout last month to a right-wing militia to "stand back and stand by" for Election Day.
Sad but true: none of these were a deal killer for the American people. The killer is Covid.
Trump will not win tomorrow's election because Americans will not and cannot re-elect a man whose reckless handling of the pandemic has contributed to the death of more than 230,000 of us. And it's still climbing at about 1000 deaths a day, heading toward 300,000 by the time Joe Biden is inaugurated in January.
That is why Trump has lost the support of America's seniors, a key group that carried him to victory last time. That is also why the polls clearly favour Biden, nationally and in the few heavily contested battleground states where the election will actually be decided. It doesn't mean there won't be cheating. It doesn't mean the intentional slowing of the US mail won't cost Biden a lot of votes. It doesn't mean there won't be violence as his armed supporters and his army of lawyers attempt to strong arm a Trump victory. It might get bloody. But he is going to lose at the polls.
New Zealanders should be rightly proud of themselves and the most impressive leadership of your PM, who from 7000 miles away looks the very image of steel wrapped in silk. You showed the world how to wrestle a lethal virus to the ground. Whereas Trump has misled, bungled and lied to the American people about Covid since it emerged.
He told author Bob Woodward that Covid was a unique killer with a 5 per cent fatality rate on February 7. But on February 28, he told the American public that the virus was a "new hoax" that would simply vanish. He still hasn't secured sufficient PPE, testing or tracing for our country. We still have no national plan. He promoted wacky research into injecting disinfectants and stuffing UV lights up your nose. He endlessly touted the anti-malaria drug chloroquine as a false cure. He actively opposed wearing masks. He called on armed right wing anti-masker goons to "Liberate Michigan". They showed up with assault rifles to interfere with the local pandemic response. And some were arrested last month for planning to kidnap and execute the governor.
Trump pushed hard for imprudent early reopenings of businesses and schools, against medical advice, that greatly increased the number of cases. A new Stanford University study out last week estimates his maskless campaign rallies alone have caused 30,000 new cases and killed 700 Americans.
He interfered in the operation of our world famous CDC health agency. He ignored the best epidemiologists on Earth and listened instead to the Fox News herd immunity theories of a celebrity radiologist with zero expertise in either virology or epidemiology.
That's pretty much the definition of negligent homicide for political gain. In fact, it's getting pretty close to the Treaty of Rome definition for a "crime against humanity". We have 230,000 dead in the world's pre-eminent medical science nation, vs about 1750 in Japan, 465 in South Korea and 25 in New Zealand.
And here's the irony: Responding honestly and vigorously to the pandemic would have almost certainly guaranteed Trump's re-election. Every leader who even attempted a meaningful response has seen their popularity soar, like Trudeau in Canada, Merkel in Germany and many US governors. They didn't need a New Zealand level of brilliant success to raise their standing. Just an honest effort. By going with deception and inaction, Trump chose the only two paths to hell. For us and now for him too.
In the end, Trump can't survive the vast and growing Army of the Dead his own actions created here. This year, the virus gets to vote. It's immune to bull, campaign tricks and Trump's Neanderthal charm. And it's not voting Republican.
• Dick Brass was vice-president of Microsoft and Oracle for almost two decades. His firm Dictronics developed the first modern dictionary-based spellcheck and he was an editor at the Daily News, NY.