This article is republished with permission from JMORE.
When people talk about the simple courage to tell the truth during a difficult time, they can now start with Gov. Larry Hogan.
And among Republicans and others with puckered lips surrounding President Donald Trump, they can pretty much end there as well.
On the CBS program “Face the Nation” on Sunday, Apr.25, Hogan responded bravely to Trump’s breathtaking suggestion that human beings might beat the coronavirus by ingesting disinfectants.
The president’s words, Hogan said, have “not been great.”
In normal times, this would be known as understatement.
In today’s climate, with this president who specializes in political pettiness, revenge and retribution, this is considered an act of courage.
Admittedly, it’s not as pithy as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s remark, but still …
Pelosi was asked by CNN’s Jake Tapper on Sunday’s “State of the Union” what she thought about ingesting disinfectants for any reason whatsoever.
Pelosi replied, “We’ve spent a lot of time on what the president said, and disinfectant in the body. You know what they call that? They call that embalming.”
Now we’re getting somewhere.
But Hogan, to his credit, wasn’t through. When words are spoken by the president of the United States, even words as harmful and idiotic as this president’s, they carry weight. Precisely how much weight, Hogan was brave enough to tell us.
“We had hundreds of calls in our hotline here in Maryland about people asking about injecting or ingesting these disinfectants, which is, you know, hard to imagine that people thought that that was serious,” Hogan said.
Trump’s words were, in fact, so ludicrous that once the barrage of criticism began landing on the president, he did what he so often does out of sheer instinct — he lied. He said he meant the remarks “sarcastically.”
Does this man not know that his every public statement is recorded both visually and orally? Does he not know that the reactions of those around him — who sit there, astonished, at his sheer incompetence — are also recorded?
And that’s what makes Hogan’s remarks such an act of courage. He spoke the simple truth.
Yet so many of the sycophants around Trump seem to find such a gesture impossible.
Take Dr. Deborah Birx. Somebody, please. She’s the White House coronavirus response coordinator. She’s been sitting there when Trump’s made some of his most outrageous remarks. She could walk to the lectern and say, “Sorry, but that’s incorrect. In the name of God, don’t believe it.”
But she doesn’t.
Then, on Sunday, she had a session with CNN’s Tapper, who gave her another chance to issue appropriate warnings about the dangers of ingesting disinfectants.
And she blew it. She said something about the president musing aloud about his thoughts. She suggested the media had missed the point.
This is the kind of mealy-mouthed response that makes millions wonder, “If we can’t trust such scientists and medical people, then who we can we trust?”
Or as Gov. Hogan flatly put it on “Face the Nation,” “I think it’s critical that the president of the United States, when people are really scared and in the middle of this worldwide pandemic, that in these press conferences that we really get the facts out there.”
OK, then. Was that so hard?
Well, yes. If you don’t think so, consider Dr. Rick Bright, who led the federal agency working toward a coronavirus vaccine. He was yanked from his job and claims it’s because he “resisted efforts to fund potentially dangerous drugs promoted by those with political connections.”
His reference was to hydroxychloroquine, touted as a “game changer” for weeks by both Trump and some of his puppets at Fox News. Last Friday, the FDA warned that the drug could cause “serious heart rhythm problems in patients with COVID-19.”
Then consider Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. He warned that a second wave of coronavirus next winter “will actually be even more difficult than the one we just went through” because it will coincide with flu season, and added that public demonstrations against stay-at-home orders are “not helpful.”
For this, Trump tweeted that Redfield was “totally misquoted by Fake News @CNN.”
No, he wasn’t.
But Redfield was forced onstage, at Trump’s daily press briefing. To his credit, Redfield said he was quoted accurately. But he didn’t want to contradict Trump, so he hedged. His explanation sounded tortured.
Gov. Larry Hogan knows he’s dealing with a petulant bully in the White House. All he did was speak the simple truth. But it sounded, in this frightening moment, like a cry of courage.
Michael Olesker, columnist for the News American, Baltimore Sun, and Baltimore Examiner has spent a quarter of a century writing about the city he loves.He is the author of several books, including Michael Olesker’s Baltimore: If You Live Here, You’re Home, Journeys to the Heart of Baltimore, and The Colts’ Baltimore: A City and Its Love Affair in the 1950s, all published by Johns Hopkins Press.