There’s Something about that Disinfectant Comment

5 mins read

I know he seems like the Teflon President, who can do or say anything and slide past it. But the disinfectant comments strikes me as fundamentally different from other sensational or rage-provoking comments Trump has uttered.

I don’t think he’ll live this one down.

Why is this different from, say, children in cages or the Mexicans-are-rapists comment? I think it’s because the comments that most rile us (like Mexicans are rapists, or mocking a disabled reporter) actually feed into the divisions, racism, and anger of his base.

Here were his exact words:

Many of Trump’s lies directly benefit some part of his base or donors. Denying climate change, for example, enriches the people (including Putin) who get rich from selling hydrocarbons.

The Greenland comment can be explained as a distraction, a game. But not the suggestion that we inject bleach. He was SO obviously engaging in weird magical thinking instead of providing leadership.

Did you all know that Alex Jones has claimed that governments have “weather weapons” and can create and steer groups of tornadoes? It’s part of the Deep State conspiracy theory and familiar to the Alex Jones set. So for Trump’s base (the Alex Jones devotees) that one wasn’t really that far fetched.

Cancer from windmills is a lie that serves a purpose (keep people dependent on hydrocarbons.)

Because fascist / hierarchical thinkers despise the weak. The disabled were among the first victims of the Nazis.

The “inject disinfectants” thing is different because it doesn’t perpetuate the usual hierarchical thinking or “deep state” theories.

This is particularly true because anyone who sees the clip knows he wasn’t joking.

“He did it to bait people” is probably worse than “he had a lapse in cognitive functioning” because “joking” means he intentionally suggested something that can kill people.

Ted Lieu had a great answer to the “it was the fault of the liberal media” defense:

This tweet came after days of ridicule about the disinfectant comments. It is clear to me that Trump was embarrassed.

Trump’s supporters and donors are embarrassed. Nobody can defend it.

Trump’s critics will be making hay out of this for a long time.

The Democrats are usually not as good at messaging as Republicans, which I believe has to do with the psychological differences. Some of the research on psychological make up of those with authoritarian dispositions versus non-authoritarians explains some of the success of the far right in slogans and messaging: They dislike complexity. Non-authoritarians embrace nuance.

Nuance doesn’t fit into bumper stickers. For that matter, the truth often doesn’t, either. Suggesting that what we all know is poison (those bottles we keep locked from toddlers) should be injected or ingested is so stupid, but so visceral.

Recall that “her emails” sank so deeply into the public consciousness while actual lawbreaking slid under the radar. It’s called the “repeated exposure effect.” The more something is repeated, the deeper it sinks.

See where this is going?

Don’t let them forget. It wasn’t just a stupid comment: It was a metaphor for the entire presidency.

It’s the perfect metaphor for a conman president: He has no interest in solving the public health problem. He keeps looking for quick fixes. Remember when he wanted to own any vaccine Germany developed? Or when he said the virus would magically disappear?

Precisely. That’s what makes it perfect.

All Biden has to do in a debate is mention the disinfectant comment. Trump will then throw a nutty. Biden calmly plays the clip.

“Do you all really want a president who suggests injecting disinfectants?”

The end.

Originally posted on Musing About Law, Books, and Politics.
Re-posted with permission.


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Teri has written novels, short stories, nonfiction for both young readers and adults, and lots of legal briefs. She is currently working on a book on disinformation to be published by Macmillan Publishers. Her political commentary has appeared on the NBC Think Blog and CNN.com. Her articles and essays have appeared in publications as diverse as Education Week, Slate Magazine, and Scope Magazine. Her short fiction has appeared in the American Literary View, The Iowa Review, and others. For twelve years she maintained a private appellate law practice limited to representing indigents on appeal from adverse rulings. She believes with the ACLU that when the rights of society's most vulnerable members are denied, everybody's rights are imperiled. She also believe with John Updike that the purpose of literature is to expand our sympathies. Teri lives with her family on the beautiful central coast in California.

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