President Donald Trump has been keeping himself busy recently — and not just with playing golf. He denied bragging about grabbing women’s genitalia, reposted anti-Muslim videos on Twitter, revived birther conspiracy theories against his predecessor Barack Obama, made derogatory comments about Native Americans and disregarded the fact that women have accused him of sexual misconduct.
“Hey, look, I’m president. I don’t care. I don’t care anymore.”
Trump spoke those words at a speech he gave in Missouri talking about the new tax plan. But, as stated by The Washington Post, “he might as well been describing his mind-set.”
Experts and politicians alike have weighed in and agreed. “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 27 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President,” a New York Times bestseller by Bandy X. Lee of the Yale School of Medicine published last month, features numerous analyses of the president’s erratic, unstable behavior and suggests that his mental state deems him unfit for his role.
“Collectively with our coauthors, we warn that anyone as mentally unstable as Mr. Trump simply should not be entrusted with the life-and-death powers of the presidency,” the book’s intro states.
Stopping short of making a diagnosis without formally evaluating Trump, the prologue further states, “it doesn’t take a psychiatrist to notice that our president is mentally compromised. Members of the press have come up with their own diagnostic nomenclature, calling the president a ‘mad king’ (Dowd 2017), a ‘nut job’ (Collins 2017), and ‘emotionally unhinged’ (Rubin 2017).”
Republican Sen. Sue Collins (Maine) over the summer said she is worried about Trump after Democratic Sen. Jack Reed (R.I.) called him “crazy.”
In August Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) expressed similar sentiments to reporters.
“The president has not yet been able to demonstrate the stability nor some of the competence that he needs to demonstrate in order to be successful,” he said.
And what have members of his inner circle, White House staffers and fellow Republicans done? They have accepted Trump’s alternate version of reality.
Perhaps the most damning Trump incident was the denial of his “Grab them by the p***y” comment on a 2005 “Access Hollywood” recording. According to a New York Times article, Trump has recently called into question whether or not the recording was authentic.
As a reminder, Trump said last year when the recording became public, “I said it, I was wrong, and I apologize.”
Just yesterday Trump exhibited his unstable behavior on his favorite platform, Twitter, when he posted anti-Islam videos that had originally been posted by a leader of a far-right British party convicted earlier this month of abusing a Muslim woman. At the time of this publication, the tweets are still posted on his account.
The president received praise from David Duke, former grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, who said in part, “Thank God for Trump! That’s why we love him!” Trump has not yet condemned Duke’s tweets, despite the fact that he has been active on Twitter since they were posted.
According to The Times, Trump has also revived claims that Obama was not born in the U.S. and that he only lost the popular vote in the election due to “voter fraud.”
Why does Trump continue to display such off-putting, unstable behavior? Because there appear to be no consequences. When he says and does insane things, there is always a staffer, an aide, another Republican or a spokesperson to clean up his mess.
When he denied the “p***y” comments, White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders came (or attempted to come) to his rescue at a press conference with a bizarre defense blaming the media. After calling Sen. Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas” at the Native American event Sanders brushed it off and in fact cast blame on Warren herself.
The Times also suggested that Trump’s inner circle is aware of Trump living in his own reality — and perhaps encourages it by playing into his delusions rather than addressing them. An unidentified senator who listened as Trump repeated the birther claims “chuckled” at Trump’s mania.
“Mr. Trump’s journeys into the realm of manufactured facts have been frequent enough that his own staff has sought to nudge friendly lawmakers to ask questions of Mr. Trump in meetings that will steer him toward safer terrain.”
So lawmakers laugh when the president pushes conspiracy theories and they have to attempt to pull Trump back into reality when speaking with him.
“Mr. Trump’s friends did not bother denying that the president was creating an alternative version of events,” The Times reported.
And as long as he is living in his own reality, the president believes he is untouchable.
Despite the “p***y” comments, the birther conspiracy and not denouncing David Duke’s support while on the campaign trail, Trump was still elected. At this point, what does he have to lose?
He also demonstrated this belief when he commented on the firing of NBC’s Matt Lauer following accusations of sexual misconduct against him.
“Wow, Matt Lauer was just fired from NBC for ‘inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace,’” he tweeted.
Trump failed to mention the own mounting accusations of sexual misconduct against him (which the White House last month explained away, insisting the women who accused him were lying). And while Lauer, Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey and others who have been accused of sexual harassment or assault have been ousted from their jobs, Trump has remained in his extremely high position of power — further encouraging the president that he doesn’t have to change a thing.
In his tweet about Lauer, Trump also called out other “Fake News practitioners at NBC” — including alluding to an “unsolved mystery” involving MSNBC host Joe Scarborough.
The “mystery” appears to involve a former aide to Scarborough when he was a congressman in Florida. Lori Klausutis, 28, passed away in 2001. She was found dead in one of Scarborough’s district offices. But no evidence exists to implicate Scarborough in her death, or even suggest that he was in any way involved. Politifact rated Trump’s tweet a “Pants on Fire!” lie.
Scarborough, for his part, said he believes the president “is not well.”
Looks like I picked a good day to stop responding to Trump's bizarre tweets. He is not well. https://t.co/XJhW5ZHNfs
— Joe Scarborough (@JoeNBC) November 29, 2017
Others appeared to share this sentiment.
Charles Blow boldly declared in a Times column, “Donald Trump is completely unfit to be president of the United States.”
Maggie Haberman of the Times said on CNN, “Something is unleashed with [Trump] lately.” She added she doesn’t know “how to describe it.”
Senior CNN commentator David Axelrod also questioned Trump’s “delusional behavior.”
Even by Trumpian standards, today has been a remarkable day, filled with despicable Tweets and reports of delusional behavior.
What has pushed him over the edge? Is it Flynn?
— David Axelrod (@davidaxelrod) November 29, 2017
And, not mincing words, CNN’s Brooke Baldwin bluntly questioned: “Is there something seriously wrong with him?”