I get it. The April media briefing where President Donald Trump mused about using disinfectant to fight the coronavirus — often inaccurately portrayed by the left as his urging Americans to “inject themselves with disinfectant” or “drink bleach”– is a moment the Democrats want to hold on to.
At some point, however, given the rapidity with which the news cycle refreshes, you have to pull an Elsa and let it go.
The ideal point was long before Thursday, but here we are: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi decided to use the metaphor at her weekly news conference.
At issue was Trump’s answer regarding whether he’d commit to accepting the election results and the concomitant transfer of power, saying, “We’re going to have to see what happens,” and expressing concerns about mail-in voting.
President Trump is asked if he will commit to a peaceful transfer of power after the election
— CBS News (@CBSNews) September 23, 2020
Anyone with a passing familiarity with how the Constitution works knows this is a leading, nonsubstantive question designed to get a clip for the evening news. Whether Trump accepts the results — win, lose or draw, as the reporter put it — has no bearing on whether he’ll remain in the Oval Office.
Say what you will about his answer, it was an invitation for Democrats to trip over themselves in their responses to it. Enter Pelosi, who told reporters at her news conference that it was “really sad you even have to ask that question” and it was “stunning” how “complicit” Republicans were.
“We know who he admires. [Russian President Vladimir] Putin. [North Korean leader] Kim Jong Un. [Turkish President Recep Tayyip] Erdogan,” she said. “You are not in Russia. He is not in North Korea. He is not in Turkey.
“He’s trying to have the Constitution of the United States swallow Clorox.”
“I don’t know why the press doesn’t make more of this, to be very honest with you,” Pelosi continued. “If he says to people, ‘Swallow Clorox,’ we hear about it for the rest of our lives, but he’s trying to have the Constitution of the United States swallow Clorox — I appreciate these questions that all of you have this morning, I guess, provoked by the arrogance and the disregard for the Constitution of the president’s statement last night.”
“He is trying to have the Constitution of the United States swallow Clorox.”
Asked of her plan if Trump won’t recognize a Biden victory, Pelosi says, she has “a pretty good idea of the method of his madness” and it’s “stunning” how “complicit” GOP are. https://t.co/mRWa6yO6vC pic.twitter.com/RSJQj5qWWI
— ABC News (@ABC) September 24, 2020
This quote got plenty of reaction on Twitter, with most wondering if Pelosi was all right.
PELOSI: President Trump “is trying to have the Constitution of the United States ‘swallow Clorox’.”
— Benny (@bennyjohnson) September 24, 2020
— JENNY GARCIA SHARON FOR CONGRESS (@jenny4congress) September 24, 2020
How can a constitution swallow Clorox?
— Despacito Joe 🇺🇸 (@orangeblitz47) September 24, 2020
It there ANYBODY in DC that is NOT 100 years old?
— BearsBasketballMom (@BearsBasketbal1) September 24, 2020
When do they start throwing tomatoes at Pelosi? Or bring out the big Vaudeville hook and pull her off stage.
— todd hickling (@hickling_todd) September 24, 2020
These people would have been RETIRED years ago at any simple job.
— Ligia Parmenter (@ParmenterLigia) September 24, 2020
My personal favorites were callbacks to Pelosi’s strange Sunday appearance on ABC’s “This Week,” where she answered a simple question with the bizarre response, “Good morning. Sunday morning.”
A losing tantrum. Good morning, good Thursday
— saquen_a_carrillo (@fuera_carrillo) September 24, 2020
— EmbraceTheTank (@JPederman) September 24, 2020
I suppose if you’re going to make fun of someone for his or her odd verbal infelicities, it helps if you use something of a more recent provenance.
The actual statement that Pelosi was referencing was from an April 24 coronavirus briefing at the White House.
First, Bill Bryan, undersecretary for science and technology at the Department of Homeland Security, told reporters that “our most striking observation to date is the powerful effect that solar light appears to have on killing the virus — both surfaces and in the air.”
He then said that researchers were also testing the effects of readily available disinfectants on the virus.
“We’ve tested bleach, we’ve tested isopropyl alcohol on the virus, specifically in saliva or in respiratory fluids,” Bryan said. “And I can tell you that bleach will kill the virus in five minutes; isopropyl alcohol will kill the virus in 30 seconds, and that’s with no manipulation, no rubbing — just spraying it on and letting it go. You rub it and it goes away even faster.
“We’re also looking at other disinfectants, specifically looking at the COVID-19 virus in saliva.”
The president soon followed up by saying, “I see the disinfectant, where it knocks it out in a minute. One minute. And is there a way we can do something like that, by injection inside or almost a cleaning. Because you see it gets in the lungs and it does a tremendous number on the lungs. So it would be interesting to check that. So, that, you’re going to have to use medical doctors with. But it sounds — it sounds interesting to me.
“So we’ll see. But the whole concept of the light, the way it kills it in one minute, that’s — that’s pretty powerful.”
Trump went on to clarify his comments, saying, “It wouldn’t be through injection. We’re talking about through almost a cleaning, sterilization of an area. Maybe it works, maybe it doesn’t work. But it certainly has a big effect if it’s on a stationary object.”
Months later, we’re getting back to that with a jape that landed with a thud on social media. The president’s comments aren’t particularly fecund territory five months on, and it’s not going to help if this is Pelosi’s best shot.
As abstract poetry or song lyrics, the image of the Constitution drinking Clorox doesn’t resonate with most voters. If anything, they wonder whether Pelosi needs a nap and a nice cup of tea.
And who knows? Maybe some people got the joke:
Speaker Pelosi today saying Trump wants the Constitution to swallow Clorox! I cracked up at that. 😄
— SillyNilly (@Pam1Sadge) September 25, 2020
Who said the left has become humorless?
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