Opinion: Mr. President, not Dr. President

In a White House briefing on April 23, President Trump suggested that Americans could inject disinfectants to cure coronavirus. It’s so outlandish that it almost sounds like a story from The Onion. Oh wait, it was. Twenty-eight days before Trump’s comments, the satirical news website published an article titled “Man Just Buying One Of Every Cleaning Product In Case Trump Announces It’s Coronavirus Cure.”

In the briefing, Trump directed coronavirus response coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx and the Department of Homeland Security to investigate whether disinfectant injections were a viable treatment for COVID-19. “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,” the president asked, continuing that “you see it gets in the lungs, and it does a tremendous number on the lungs. So, it would be interesting to check that.”

            Trump also proposed “heat and light” as a potential cure. Although it was delivered with a straight face, Trump later insisted that his comments were a joke. “I was asking a question sarcastically,” he claimed.

Disinfectant manufacturer Lysol didn’t seem to get the joke. Shortly after Trump’s comments a spokesperson for Reckitt Benckiser, the United Kingdom-based owner of Lysol, said in a statement to NBC News that “as a global leader in health and hygiene products, we must be clear that under no circumstance should our disinfectant products be administered into the human body (through injection, ingestion or any other route).”

This isn’t the first time President Trump has made us all chuckle with one of his funny, lighthearted, sarcastic comments. Does anyone remember when the President “sarcastically” asked a foreign government to hack into a U.S. official’s accounts? Or that time when he claimed President Obama founded a terrorist organization?

Trump’s comments are not slip-ups. They are not sarcasm. They are not the president “speaking his mind.” They are the nonsensical ramblings of a powerful fool. The president thinks he is a doctor, and he clearly is not. “People are really surprised I understand this stuff,” the president claimed during a tour of the CDC on March 6. “Every one of these doctors said, ‘How do you know so much about this?’ Maybe I have a natural ability.” If hubris is a ‘natural ability,’ Trump certainly has it in spades.  After all, the man is, in his own words, a “stable genius.”

The disinfectant debacle isn’t the first time Trump has touted a coronavirus treatment without evidence. On March 21, Trump claimed that the experimental drug hydroxychloroquine could be “one of the biggest game changers in the history of medicine,” and encouraged people to take the drug, asking “What do you have to lose?” According to actual experts, however, such as those of the European Medicines Agency, “the benefits of [chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine] have not yet been demonstrated, but their potential side effects have.” The side effects are serious, too, including risks of heart rhythm problems, liver and kidney problems, and nerve cell damage that can lead to seizures and hypoglycemia. He also claimed, once again without any evidence and despite his medical experts that the experimental drug remdesivir “could have a very positive effect, or a positive effect, maybe not very, but maybe positive.” The Food and Drug Administration has since been forced to reiterate that there are currently no drugs approved to treat COVID-19.

If it is any consolation, Trump has since stepped down from his daily coronavirus test briefings, which is for the best, but at the end of the day, this is yet another example of why this president should not be trusted. He is a human incarnation of the Dunning-Krueger effect; that is, the dumber you are, the smarter you think you are. He purports to be an expert with money, but his business ventures have gone bankrupt six times. He isn’t an oncologist, but he said windmills cause cancer. He isn’t a meteorologist, but he claimed Hurricane Dorian would hit Alabama. He isn’t a doctor, but he thinks that injecting disinfectant could be an effective treatment for coronavirus patients. Why should we trust a single word he says?