In the pivotal courtroom scene near the conclusion of the classic movie A Few Good Men, Tom Cruise, the military prosecutor, turns to Jack Nicholson, the officer on trial, and demands that Colonel Jessep, (Nicholson) tell him the truth. Nicholson retorts, “You can’t handle the truth!” Most Americans watching President Trump’s daily press briefings also want the truth. Sadly, they recognize that it is indeed the President who cannot handle the truth.
Over the past weeks the President has repeatedly filled his nightly reality shows with lies, half-truths, ignorance, and ad hominem attacks on the press. Under normal circumstances, these outbursts would have been dismissed and ignored as just nonsense. With the nation and the entire world living in the grips of a pandemic, however, it would be reassuring if the country could rely on the statements of the leader of the free world demonstrating respect for facts and science.
His ignorance of fundamental scientific facts and his dismissive approach to serious journalists trying to report needed information to a scared public, reached its nadir yesterday evening. The fact that the President even could have suggested that people should inject themselves with germ disinfection or ultra-violet rays was appalling. The expression on the face of the Deborah Birx, the White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator, during the President’s absurd proposal was a clear message for any reasonable observer.
The problem with what happened yesterday was it only compounded what had occurred the previous day. On Tuesday, the Director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, Dr, Rick Bright, a vaccine expert at the Department of Health and Human Services , was transferred because he had repeatedly publicly challenged the President’s persistent recommendation that hospitals should be treating the Covid-19 virus with hydroxychloroquine.
Dr. Bright as well as many other medical and scientific experts had observed that this drug was unvetted and was unproven to fight the coronavirus. Following the dismissal of Dr. Bright and then President Trump’s medical “recommendations” on Thursday, the Food and Drug Administration this morning issued a warning specifically against prescribing the use of hydroxychloroquine in the treatment of Covid-19 because of potential coronary risks.
Sadly, this three-day episode is only a tiny representation of the lack of a reliance on truth by this White House; but this is occurring in the midst of a national crisis. Trump’s inability, and unwillingness to rely on facts and science to administer the affairs of the nation, especially during this pandemic is frightening. The dangers which the country faces now and may well be facing in the weeks and months ahead are in the hands of a leader who of is running his re-election campaign every day from the White House Press Briefing Room. The nation is looking for reassurance based on solid reliable data and all the country receives from the President is wild, unscientific gossip which have been delivered to him largely from self-interested friends and media supporters.
President Trump continues to be surrounded only by sycophants. They pander to his incompetence and ignorance and refuse to challenge his blustering rants. They, like Donald Trump, cannot handle the truth; but the American people desperately want the facts.