What we learn when Trump says crazy stuff

Weekend Herald - - World - Jen­nifer Ru­bin

Yes­ter­day, US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump showed once again that he lacks even a tan­gen­tial re­la­tion­ship with re­al­ity: “3000 peo­ple did not die in the two hurricanes that hit Puerto Rico. When I left the Is­land, AFTER the storm had hit, they had any­where from 6 to 18 deaths. As time went by it did not go up by much. Then, a long time later, they started to re­port re­ally large num­bers, like 3000,” he wrote on Twit­ter.

He con­tin­ued: “This was done by the Democrats in or­der to make me look as bad as pos­si­ble when I was suc­cess­fully rais­ing Bil­lions of Dol­lars to help re­build Puerto Rico. If a per­son died for any rea­son, like old age, just add them onto the list. Bad pol­i­tics. I love Puerto Rico!”

To put it mildly, this is bonkers. There is no plot. Democrats didn’t rig the stud­ies by pub­lic health ex­perts that es­ti­mate nearly 3000 per­ished be­cause of the ef­fects of Hur­ri­cane Maria last year. There is no ba­sis for say­ing that they did.

Democrats quickly de­nounced his out­burst as rub­bish. Even some Repub­li­cans sug­gested the Pres­i­dent had gone too far.

When Trump makes pal­pa­bly false state­ments, all the in­sider ac­counts — Michael Wolff ’s book Fire and Fury, Bob Wood­ward’s book Fear, the anony­mous op-ed in the New York Times last week — gain cred­i­bil­ity. In fact, when in­sid­ers use sweep­ing gen­er­al­i­ties (“im­petu­ous, ad­ver­sar­ial, petty and in­ef­fec­tive,” the anony­mous in­sider wrote to de­scribe Trump’s gov­ern­ing style), they fail to con­vey the depth of Trump’s ca­pac­ity for self-delu­sion and his in­abil­ity to recog­nise how crazy he sounds to oth­ers.

Trump’s out­burst should re­mind us of sev­eral trou­bling facts.

First, whether he is ly­ing (or is sim­ply a vic­tim of his own self­delu­sion that he is in­ca­pable of er­ror) is be­side the point. He’s not func­tion­ing as a pres­i­dent or any other of­fice­holder should. He can­not com­pre­hend facts, process them and take ap­pro­pri­ate ac­tion. He is, in a word, non-func­tional.

Sec­ond, the “se­nior of­fi­cials in his own Ad­min­is­tra­tion . . . work­ing dili­gently from within to frus­trate parts of his agenda and his worst in­cli­na­tions” (as re­counted in the anony­mous Times op-ed) are kid­ding them­selves.

They are en­abling some­one with a weak grasp on re­al­ity to main­tain the pre­tence of nor­malcy.

Our al­lies see through the act; our foes do, too.

When co­gent de­ci­sion-mak­ing is re­quired by the chief ex­ec­u­tive, we are at the mercy of his whims and fac­tors be­yond our con­trol.

Third, the prob­lem is get­ting worse and more cringe-wor­thy. When the Pres­i­dent fal­si­fies the crowd size at his in­au­gu­ra­tion, no one gets phys­i­cally or eco­nom­i­cally harmed. When he de­nies that his inat­ten­tive­ness and sloth have con­trib­uted to thou­sands of deaths, prob­lems don’t get fixed, more Amer­i­cans are put at risk and the dan­ger of fu­ture er­ror in­creases dra­mat­i­cally.

Don­ald Trump

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