Trump: Why aides are worried
The conventional wisdom is that President Trump is “a con man,” said Jonathan Chait in NYMag.com. But news reports last week suggested the nation’s chief executive has taken a disturbing step into believing his own lies, and has in fact “lost all touch with reality.” Trump has been telling stunned advisers and supporters in private that the Access Hollywood tape of him boasting of sexual assault was probably fake— even though he admitted when it was released, “I said it.” The president reportedly “still questions” whether Barack Obama was born in the U.S., and continues to insist he lost the popular vote only because of fraudulent voting, that his historically low poll ratings aren’t real, and that the entire Russia investigation is a partisan sham. If so, the man is “delusional.” Americans must hope that when Trump rants and raves like this inside the White House, he’s just “shooting his mouth off,” said Jim Geraghty in National Review.com. Because if he does “believe what he says,” then invoking the 25th Amendment to have him removed from office on the grounds of mental unfitness “doesn’t seem so unthinkable.”
Maybe Trump is just smarter than we think, said Greg Sargent in WashingtonPost.com. He won the presidency by blurring the lines between fiction and reality and by attacking the credibility of news outlets that held him to account. Questioning “empirically verifiable facts” that he previously accepted may be an escalation of that strategy—to render “reality irrelevant” and make “fact- and evidence-based inquiry itself a cause for suspicion.” That would be a plausible explanation if Trump were pushing these falsehoods in public, said Paul Waldman in TheWeek.com. But he is doing so “in private, to those he trusts.” That suggests he really believes his own conspiracy theories— indicating he may be “coming unglued.”
My theory is that Trump isn’t becoming “crazier,” said Jonah Goldberg in NationalReview.com—he is “simply getting more comfortable.” When the businessman first moved into the White House, he no doubt felt intimidated by the job and made a show of listening to his advisers at least some of the time. But now the awe has “worn off,” and Trump is starting to “take it for granted he belongs in the Oval Office.” Emboldened by the failure of aides and congressional Republicans to restrain him, he now is “less likely to restrain himself.” For those who fear Trump’s worst instincts, that’s a disturbing thought.