The star of ‘Presidential Apprentice’ is sliding into a mental decline. So say Republican strategists and the two best friends Donald Trump has in media.
Yesterday, Trump could not seem to stop saying bizarre and inane things: Andrew Jackson could have stopped the Civil War, which took place after he died; he would be “honored” to meet with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, whom he praised for “moving his country forward;” he admired Rodrigo Duterte, brutal dictator of the Philippines, for being popular.
On the domestic front, Trump vacillated on the Republican health care bill, took both sides on the issue of a gas tax increase, set off alarms in the West Wing by talking about a breakup of major banks, and walked away in the middle of an interview with CBS after saying “I stand behind nothing.”
Today, Trump called for a government shutdown in September. Responding to his utter defeat in this week’s budget negotiations, the president tried to spin congressional nixing of any funds for his border wall by claiming that a slight increase in border maintenance funding is really a “down payment” on his silly dream.
Of course, some of this can simply be marked down as the political convulsions of a man who lacks coherent philosophy, and whose sole concern is his own popularity.
But to presidential historian Douglas Brinkley, Monday was an unprecedented display of unpresidential behavior. “It seems to be among the most bizarre recent 24 hours in American presidential history,” Brinkley told POLITICO of Trump’s multiple media appearances. “It was all just surreal disarray and a confused mental state from the president.”
The interviews — published by Bloomberg, Face the Nation and the SiriusXM radio network — seemed timed to the president’s 100-day mark but contained a dizzying amount of news, even for a president who often makes news in stream-of-consciousness comments. Trump’s advisers have at times tried to curb his media appearances, worried he will step on his message. “They were not helpful to us,” one senior administration official said. “There was no point to do all of them.”
White House officials said privately there was no broader strategy behind the interviews. GOP strategists and Capitol Hill aides were puzzled by it all. “I have no idea what they view as a successful media hit,” said one senior GOP consultant with close ties to the administration. “He just seemed to go crazy today,” a senior GOP aide said. (Emphasis mine)
On MSNBC this morning, Mika Brzezinski expressed a feeling that something has snapped. “For better or worse, no matter what people have thought along the way, we have known this man for a very long time. And we’re not seeing the same guy here,” she said. In fact, Brzezinski and her co-host bear outsize responsibility for the normalization of their friend Donald Trump during the election cycle.
But Joe Scarborough agreed that something has gone wrong. Responding to Doris Kearns Goodwin, who said that Trump “lives in the moment,” Scarborough compared the president to his own experience with elderly people in decline.
“My mother lives in the moment, too. And I’m not saying that Donald Trump has dementia, but my mother has dementia,” Scarborough explained. “She lives in the moment. She forgets what she said a day ago, a week ago. We can’t have presidents that do that. And I’m not saying that he has dementia. I will leave that to his physician to figure that out.”
While there is no serious talk of removing Trump yet, Brzezinski pointed out that Republican lawmakers have been forced to alter their political calculus. “Are you going to stand by this guy? Because he’s nowhere,” she said. “He doesn’t stand by anything. And I’m quoting him right now.”
Will Trump end up being removed from office? “The history of besieged Presidencies is, in the end, a history of hubris—of blindness to one’s faults, of deafness to the warnings, of seclusion from uncomfortable realities,” writes Evan Osnos in a well-timed New Yorker article about the potential for Trump to be removed from office. Noting that impeachment and the 25th Amendment are inherently political processes, Osnos says that “law and history make clear that Trump’s most urgent risk is not getting ousted; it is getting hobbled by unpopularity and distrust.”
Trump, after a lifetime in a family business, with no public obligations and no board of directors to please, has found himself abruptly exposed to evaluation, and his reactions have been volcanic. Setting a more successful course for the Presidency will depend, in part, on whether he fully accepts that critics who identify his shortcomings are capable of curtailing his power. When James P. Pfiffner, a political scientist at George Mason University, compared the White House crises that confronted Nixon, Reagan, and Clinton, he identified a perilous strain of confidence. In each case, Pfiffner found, the President could not “admit to himself that he had done anything wrong.”
Donald Trump is unpopular. Donald Trump is increasingly distrusted by the public, his own party, and even his closest allies. In his own mind, the siege is already under way. It just hasn’t been formalized yet.
- How White Nationalist WH Aide Stephen Miller Became The Perfect Trump Voter - August 4, 2017
- Michele Bachmann Wants Church-State Separation To Protect Hate Crimes - August 2, 2017
- Attorney General Jeff Sessions Lied On His Security Clearance Form - July 13, 2017
- Trump Begins The American Kleptocracy With Air Traffic Control - June 5, 2017
- Neo-Nazi National Guardsman Converts To Islam, Kills His Neo-Nazi Roommates - May 23, 2017
- Morning Joe, Republicans Agree: Donald Trump Is Losing It - May 2, 2017
- Trump Waves Off Questions About His Russia Ties, ‘Wiretap’ Claims (VIDEO) - May 1, 2017
- For Michael Flynn, Orange Really Is The New Black - April 27, 2017
- Fox Five’s Greg Gutfield Wants To Inspire The Next Robert Dear - April 26, 2017
- Donald Trump Will Bear All The Blame For A Government Shutdown - April 24, 2017