During his Sunday press conference, President Donald Trump advocated for the use of the drug hydroxychloroquine to help people with coronavirus. The drug hasn’t been proven to work. However, he acknowledged he’s not exactly the best person to listen to on the topic.
“But what do I know? I’m not a doctor,” the president said.
It was that admission that Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson was looking for, noting it’s rare for Trump to speak with such “clarity.”
“Unfortunately, this observation came Sunday amid an avalanche of nonsense about the anti-malaria drug that he believes to be a magic bullet against covid-19. It is remarkable how a tongue-twisting word few of us were familiar with a month ago — hydroxychloroquine — has suddenly come to represent so many of the reasons Trump should not be president, especially during a time of crisis,” Robinson wrote in his Monday column.
He said that one phrase further revealed Trump’s “anecdote-based method of making decisions,” even during a crisis. It also showed his “reliance on cronies” in his administration who have no experience or training.
According to Sunday reports, Trump’s economic adviser Peter Navarro attacked Dr. Anthony Fauci during a coronavirus task force meeting, saying that hydroxychloroquine needed to be sent everywhere because it was some kind of miracle drug. When Dr. Fauci pointed out that the cases Navarro was citing were anecdotal, Navarro began shouting. Trump ultimately decided to trust his economic adviser over the top government infectious diseases doctor.
“But what do I know? I’m not a doctor.” Nor is Navarro. But “they say” it works, according to Trump. One emergency room doctor explained the side effects that can cause all sorts of health problems to people who take the drug. Still, demand for it is up.
Robinson explained it’s just a further example of Trump’s rejection of science “or perhaps his failure to understand how science even works.” It shows “his defiant stubbornness in clinging to what he ‘knows,’ even when he doesn’t actually know it; his obsessiveness even in the face of contrary evidence; and his imperviousness to fact-based arguments he does not want to hear.”
“Instead of heeding Fauci’s caution, Trump has reportedly been listening to his personal lawyer, former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, who told The Post in an interview that he has advocated the use of the drug ‘three or four times’ in phone calls with the president.
“I discussed it with the president after he talked about it,” Giuliani said. “I told him what I had on the drugs.”
“If I had a loved one who was hospitalized and desperately ill with covid-19, I would want doctors to try everything, including hydroxychloroquine, that might conceivably help,” said Robinson. “But Trump has dangerously suggested that the drug be taken prophylactically by healthy people to guard against the disease. Hydroxychloroquine is used to treat some autoimmune conditions, and Trump has cited anecdotal reports from a handful of doctors that their patients who suffer from lupus seem to have some resistance to covid-19.”
Trump said Saturday, “I may take it.” Though he hasn’t yet. As he asked, “What do you have to lose?”
Robinson closed by saying that he hopes it works because America needs whatever it can get to help people.