President Donald Trump began his week with a staggering admission. Seemingly off the cuff, he announced that he was taking the drug hydroxychloroquine.
What followed was a public debate strange even by present standards. Was the president telling the truth, or was he lying, in a sly provocation, to annoy reporters who have fetishized his recurring promotion of the drug?
The evidence that the president was lying was strong. His lips were moving, for one thing. For another, he was vague and even self-contradictory about how long he’d been taking the drug and why. A statement issued later by his doctor was meant to serve as a confirmation, but never explicitly asserted that he had prescribed the drug for the president. And Trump is famously squeamish about ingesting foreign substances. A man who says he’s never allowed an intoxicant to pass his lips doesn’t seem like the sort of person who would submit his body as a test tube in a one-off nonclinical trial of a controversial drug.
A strong case for the skeptics!
And yet I have come to take the president at his word. Trump has a jumbo-size tolerance for risk. As a businessman, he was a high-wire act, swinging from one bankruptcy and defaulted loan to the next with scarcely a glance at the abyss yawning below him. His diet of taco bowls and Quarter Pounders and gobbets of ketchup washed away in rivers of Diet Coke is what you’d expect from an orphan boy with a bit of pocket money. He refuses any exercise more salubrious than stepping into and out of a golf cart. Maskless in the White House, he inhales unfiltered the vapors of the yes-men who surround him. With unsettling regularity, the man tempts fate—his own and ours.