In the good old days, the likes of Fidel Castro and Hugo Chávez entertained their people with seemingly unending ramblings about nearly every topic under the sun. Both rulers are dead now, but a few presidents still cling to notions of omniscience and feel the need to shine their light on issues they know virtually nothing about.
Sometimes it just cannot be helped, and one must take US President Donald Trump to task over his increasingly bizarre behaviour during the daily Coronavirus Task Force briefings staged at the White House. On Thursday, the event descended to a new and painful low as the mightiest man on earth, sporting his signature fake tan, took leave of whatever senses he had left to suggest sunlight and Lysol as possible cures for covid-19.
Whilst President Trump kept blabbering, oblivious to the ridicule he sparked, renowned scientists such as task force coordinator Dr Deborah Birx barely managed to hide their disbelief and stupefaction at so much nonsense being spouted by a single person. Taking to the lectern, President Trump philosophised at great length about cleansing the insides of the human body with some sort of disinfectant and later suggested covid-19 patients could be bombarded with bright light to kill off the virus.
Immediately after he was done, Washington State emergency authorities rushed out a tweet, warning citizens not to try out any of the president’s suggestions. Reckitt Benckiser, the British maker of Lysol, warned that its disinfectants under no circumstance should be administered into the human body.
The very event that means to reassure the American public that the federal government is doing all it can to contain the virus and battle the disease, has now become a stage for the dissemination of crackpot solutions and dangerously silly ideas. It is a daily show lasting up to two hours that features an emperor without clothes, sycophants too afraid to point out the obvious, and a few scientists trying to make the best of a very bad situation.
We should all be exceedingly grateful to the many thousands of dedicated civil servants and professionals who keep the United States federal government on an even keel by ignoring to the best of their ability any instructions from above. They must try and keep this up for another 271 days until the inauguration of the 46th president when a sense reason may resurface in the White House. Donald Trump may then replace that poor man James Buchanan as the worst president in US history – a full 44 notches down from Honest Abe. The other possibility does not bear thinking about.