Wineke: What kind of man is this?

MADISON, Wis. — It’s kind of hard to be truly shocked by anything the president does these days, but what happened last week comes close.

We learned something big in the past week or so: The president knew in February that COVID-19 is virulent and is transmitted through the “air.” Journalist Bob Woodward reported that in his new book, “Rage.” He provided tapes of President Trump saying that. The president later acknowledged that he knew, but said he didn’t tell the country because he didn’t want to cause panic.

That’s not what’s shocking, but it sets the stage for what is shocking.

Trump staged a rally in Henderson, Nevada that attracted thousands of people to an indoor arena where they spent hours together, mostly mask-free, in close contact, shouting approval of the president.

Trump later told a reporter who asked him about the rally that he was in no personal danger because he was on a stage, physically separated from his devotees.

So, the president knows how the virus spreads but creates venues where his most ardent admirers will almost surely be exposed to it.

And it’s not even the first time.

Three weeks after a previous rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, officials reported a record number of COVID-19 cases. One of those spotted in the audience, wearing no mask and cheering the president was Herman Cain, a former presidential candidate, who later died of the disease.

It’s not as if they didn’t know.

To even get into a Trump rally you have to sign a disclaimer foregoing your right to sue the Trump campaign if you come down with the virus.

My question is this: What kind of man would willingly expose his most enthusiastic admirers to a disease that will potentially kill some of them?

I mean, forget all the arguments about “policy” and about who is right and who is wrong on any given issue. Forget the way this guy demeans anyone who stands up to him. Even forget the disastrous way he has led the country through the virus with 200,000 dead by this weekend.

We can disagree on those things. But what kind of man would willingly ask his most enthusiastic admirers to gather in a room where they might be exposed to a disease that will kill some of them?

And if you think that is acceptable, what kind of person are you?