Voodoomeister: Trump takes a spin as medicine man
President Donald Trump's daily appearances at White House COVID-19 briefings have resolved a friendly dispute playing out at dinner tables across America: Is our president more aptly described as a danger or a dolt? There is no longer a need to quibble over this, and here's why: There's no incorrect answer.
The president's suggestion that we consider bombarding ourselves with ultraviolet light and injecting disinfectant to cure the coronavirus seems to have turned the light switch on for some Americans who had been laboring under the perfectly understandable presumption that he was compos mentis. On Thursday, Trump decided to reassure a deeply anxious country reeling under both pandemic and national economic collapse by sharing his thoughts about a potential solution. "Suppose we hit the body with a tremendous -- whether it's ultraviolet or just very powerful light," said the leader of the free world, turning to two of his top medical advisors, whose blood appeared to drain from their faces on national television. "Supposing you brought the light inside the body, which you can do either through the skin or in some other way. I think you said you're going to test that, too. It sounds interesting." He continued: "Then I see the disinfectant, where it knocks it out in a minute. One minute. And is there a way we can do something like that, by injection inside or almost a cleaning? So it would be interesting to check that."
Quicker than you could say "25th Amendment," everyone in the world whose name is not Rush Limbaugh warned that the president's invitation to self-administer disinfectant was not merely stupid but dangerous. The American Cleaning Institute, fearing that this bit of presidential idiocy would cause yet more deaths on top of what we are experiencing, issued this statement: "Disinfectants are meant to kill germs or viruses on hard surfaces. Under no circumstances should they ever be used on one's skin, ingested or injected internally." Facing widespread mockery, the president chose the path most familiar to him. "I was asking a sarcastic and a very sarcastic question to the reporters in the room," he lied baldly the next day, despite video that made it obvious this was hogwash. The president's new press secretary, evidently determined to become a laughing stock even more rapidly than her numberless predecessors, offered this whopper in his defense: "The president gives specific facts."
This was hardly the president's first disastrous foray into dispensing medical opinions. For weeks he has endorsed the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine as just the treatment for serious coronavirus cases. "(I)f somebody is in trouble you take it, I think," he said, tweeting that it had "a real chance to be one of the biggest game-changers in the history of medicine." Last week a nationwide study of the drug's use in veterans hospitals showed a greater rate of death of those who took it than those treated under standard protocols. And the Food and Drug Administration warned that it had dangerous side effects.
The president was likewise dead wrong in predicting that the virus would disappear with warmer weather. "Looks like by April, you know in theory when it gets a little warmer, it miraculously goes away," he opined. When Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's leading infectious disease expert, confirmed that it would return with a vengeance this fall, Trump asserted without explanation that Fauci was wrong.
The more interesting clinical question is why anyone would believe a word this president says. His former secretary of state pronounced him a "moron." His former chief of staff called him an "idiot," and his former secretary of defense said he has the understanding of a "fifth or sixth grader." Let's face it: This is not an especially good time to have a flashing "vacancy" sign in the Oval Office. And the evidence is that what we have is even worse.
Jeff Robbins, a former assistant United States attorney and United States delegate to the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, was chief counsel for the minority of the United States Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. An attorney specializing in the First Amendment, he is a longtime columnist for the Boston Herald, writing on politics, national security, human rights and the Mideast.Copyright 2020 Creators Syndicate Inc.