Even President Donald Trump’s most staunch apologists, who are an extraordinarily staunch lot, occasionally have to admit he can say or “tweet” some pretty damned stupid stuff. When there’s no plausible defense for it they either flatly deny that Trump said what all the video evidence clearly shows he said or raw saved screenshots screenshots show what he wrote in a hastily deleted “tweet,” or they fall back on the explanation that he was obviously joking and his stupidly humorless critics just didn’t get it.
Late last week Trump invited a considerable amount of ridicule by asking the government’s scientists to investigate that COVID-19 could be cured by somehow exposing a patient’s innards to “ultra violet or some other powerful light” or perhaps injecting the sort of disinfectants that have been proved kill the coronavirus on surfaces. No, he didn’t say that people should drink bleach or shoot up Lysol, as many internet wags giddily paraphrased it, but enough people took the idea seriously enough that the poison control center hotlines in four states saw a spike in calls about it and disinfectant manufacturers felt compelled to issue public warnings agains ingesting their products, and asking the government’s scientists to waste precious time and resources on such an obviously absurd and unscientific spur-of-the-moment idea was an indefensibly stupid thing to say. Which initially led to White House spokespeople denying he’d said what all the evidence even on Fox News clearly shows he said, or that at least it had been taken out of context, even in reports that showed the whole thing from beginning to end, and they rightly noted that some internet wags on the fringes of the internet were falsely implying Trump had urged people to drink bleach.
Trump was nonetheless clearly losing the news cycle and all the late night comedy shows still airing, what with all the damning videotape from all of the networks including Fox News were obligated to run, so by Sunday he had switched to saying that yeah he’d said what they said he’d said but was just kidding. He explained that “I was asking a sarcastically to reporters like you, just to see what would happen. I was asking a sarcastic and a very sarcastic question to the reporters in the room about disinfectant on the inside. But it does kill it and would kill it on the hands, and it would make things much better.” Alas, none of this utter nonsense is likely to save the news cycle for Trump.
Trump told one of the assembled reporters he was looking at him as he made his joke, but the reporter replied with the provable fact he hadn’t been at the news conference and that Trump was looking at a government scientist in apparaent earnestness, and the all the videotape even from Fox shows that Trump was looking at his coronavirus coordinator when he touted ingestion of disinfectants as a possible cure. As avid students of the cynical art of humor who appreciate a subtle wit we can also say that if Trump was only kidding he is by far the most deadpan comedian we have ever encountered. As empathetic human beings, we will also venture to opine that right now isn’t an appropriate moment for presidential sarcasm even if that s the official explanation..
Somehow Trump found time over the weekend to “tweet” that all the reporters who’d won “nobles” for reporting on Trump’s contacts with Russians during his presidential campaign should return them, and the that the “nobles committee” should instead confer the honor on the reporters who reported the story more in line with Trump’s version of events. As avid students of the cynical art of humor we were able to deduct that Trump meant the Nobel Prizes, which honor scientific and diplomatic and literary achievement but not American journalism, and that by “Nobel Prizes” he meant the Pulitzer Prizes, which do. After deleting the “tweets” he “tweeted” that deliberately meant to disrespect the Nobel Prizes he’s never won and never will win by ironically calling them the “noble prizes,” which is not bad if he’s really that subtle, but he was still mixed up about the Nobel and Pulitzer prizes and seemed to be losing yet another news cycle.
Trump’s astoundingly staunch apologists always wind up saying to forget anything Trump stupidly says or “tweets,” and to watch what he does, We’ll do exactly that, and hope for the best as America gropes its way through the worst public health and economic crisis of our lifetimes, making difficult decisions about how to balance both problems based on incomplete data, but we’d feel slightly better about it if the President of the United States refrained from saying stupid things even if he was just being sarcastic.
— Bud Norman