As you witness the increasingly bizarre behaviour of Donald Trump, the President of the United States, the mightiest nation on earth, do you wonder about his mental state? Do you speculate about his stability, his judgement, his reasoning? Recent events, piled on each other, beg the question; ”Is Donald Trump crumbling”?
Mental deterioration can afflict any of us quite suddenly. On the other hand, it can overcome us in a number of smaller steps. Could this be the case with Donald Trump?
Let’s recount some recent events that are indicative.
Take the devastating fires in Southern California that Vox
described ”…as the single most destructive and third-deadliest fire in state history”
. In its account of the fires, Reuters
reported: ”Donald Trump is known for his fiery comments, but his recent tweet has outraged prominent celebrities who slammed it as ‘demented’.
What did he say? Did he empathise with those who had lost their houses? Did he express horror at the appalling loss of life? No. He reflected on the emergency, in a Tweet of course, with: “There is no reason for these massive, deadly and costly forest fires in California except that forest management is so poor. Billions of dollars are given each year, with so many lives lost, all because of gross mismanagement of the forests. Remedy now, or no more Fed payments!” A dire threat as a proxy for empathy!
This example alone is sufficient to raise the suspicion of significant mental deterioration, even in someone as bizarre as Trump.
The president of the California Professional Firefighters assailed Trump with “The president’s message attacking California and threatening to withhold aid to the victims of the cataclysmic fires is ill-informed, ill-timed and demeaning to those who are suffering as well as the men and women on the front lines.”
Celebrities lashed out at Trump’s ’ill-judged and out-of-touch’ tweet as an absolutely heartless response…there aren’t even politics involved. As you tweet, there are good American families losing their homes and evacuating into shelters.”
But that’s just the start.
At a recent rally in Texas, Trump, the ‘America First’ man, said: “You know what I am? I’m a nationalist. Ok? I’m a nationalist…. Use that word. Use that word”.”
At the commemorations in Paris on November 11 to mark the Armistice that ended the First World War, French President Emmanuel Macron denounced nationalism with the words: ”Nationalism is a betrayal of patriotism…a withdrawal into isolationism “a grave error that future generations would very rightly make us responsible for… the old demons are rising again, ready to wreak chaos and death. History threatens to take its sinister course again”.
Appealing for global unity in the fight against global warming, poverty, hunger, inequality and ignorance, Macron added: “Let us add our hopes together instead of seeing our fears oppose each other”.
Trump was unresponsive, one of the last to applaud. Macron’s words did not match his own. Did he not know the difference between nationalism and patriotism? Trump has his own view of the world, which is not amenable to change, even when that solemn occasion demanded that the tragedies of past conflicts be remembered.
Incongruously, in contrast to his lukewarm response to other leaders, Trump gave a thumbs-up and a warm pat to Putin
, a demagogue who murders journalists and opponents, uses a nerve agent to assassinate a dissident on British soil, annexes Crimea, shoots down commercial flights, facilitates war crimes, and attacks American democracy. How can we account for such aberrant behaviour? Only by invoking mental instability as a plausible explanation.
Even before he reached Europe, Trump had managed to upset Macron who had said in an interview that Europe needed to protect itself against cyber threats and the ‘interference in our democracies’ from ‘China, Russia and even the United States’. Misinterpreting Macron’s words, Trump tweeted angrily: ”President Macron of France has just suggested that Europe build its own military in order to protect itself from the US, China and Russia. Very insulting, but perhaps Europe should first pay its fair share of NATO, which the U.S. subsidizes greatly!”
Once in France, he had been scheduled to lay a wreath at the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery and Memorial, 100 kilometres northeast of Paris, to honour Americans who has lost their lives in the Battle of Belleau Wood, a critical conflict in the war and a pivotal encounter in Marine Corps history. He cancelled because of rain!
The cancellation drew sharp criticism from those who said the president should have found a way to travel to Aisne-Marne regardless of the weather. Trump was criticised in harsh terms by Winston Churchill’s grandson, Nicholas Soames, who tweeted: “They died with their face to the foe and that pathetic, inadequate @realDonaldTrump couldn’t even defy the weather to pay his respects to The Fallen #hesnotfittorepresenthisgreatcountry.”
Nicholas Burns, an American diplomat who served both Republican and Democratic presidents, called that choice ‘astonishing’.
Trump was also scheduled to join dozens of world leaders at a ceremony at the Arc de Triomphe and was to deliver remarks at the Suresnes American Cemetery and Memorial, located five miles west of Paris, before returning to Washington. Instead, he spent most of the day at the US ambassador’s residence.
Trump lives in his own bubble with his finger twitching to tweet, isolated from the reality of the past, and alarmingly oblivious to future threats, a sign of dislocation from truth and reason.
Trump’s confused state of mind is not new. It was evident when the leaders of Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia visited the White House in April. At the resultant press conference, Trump praised his visitors and their countries for being good members of NATO and for not producing ‘fake news’! At a private meeting, Trump opened by attributing to the Baltic leaders the responsibility for the war in Yugoslavia. They took a moment to realise that ‘Baltics’ and ‘Balkan’ were getting mixed up in the mind of the American president
How many more things are being mixed up in his mind? How disconnected from reality is he becoming?
Following the mid-term elections at which he lost control of Congress to the Democrats, but did better in the Senate, he declared the result ‘a great victory’, although every commentator acknowledged that the Democrats could cause him a mountain of grief as they now control the legislative agenda. At his White House press conference
, at which he famously crossed swords with CNN reporter Jim Acosta, and insultingly expelled him, Trump declared; “I think it was a great victory. I’ll be honest: I think it was a great victory.”
If you missed it you can relive the whole horrible hour and a half of the press conference here
: Then, as if he didn’t have enough disagreement swirling around him, he forced his Attorney General Jeff Sessions to resign and controversially replaced him with Mat Whitaker, which may be unconstitutional. Whitaker is sceptical about the Mueller probe; Democrats fear he may abort it.
An article yesterday in CNN politics: Trump's mood takes a foul turn: 'He's pissed at damn near everyone'
sums up Trump’s crumbling mental state. The whole article is worth a read, but this paragraph serves to illustrate:
In the last week, the President's frayed and fraught relationships have been laid bare for all to see: He's furious at Kelly for a Paris trip that ended in a public relations debacle. He's blaming his political advisers for losing the winning narrative of the midterms. And he was caught off guard by his wife's shot across the bow at one of the top advisers in the West Wing – a sign that their private conversations clearly aren't functional.
So there you have it. Event after event that call into question Donald Trump’s mental state. Episode after episode of bizarre behaviour. Countless instances of forgetfulness. Account after account of absurd statements and incongruous actions. Tweet after astonishing tweet from the most powerful man in the world, who believes that tweeting is the way to conduct global diplomacy, initiate trade wars, address worldwide conflicts, threaten adversaries, and carry out international negotiations. He even sees tweeting as a mechanism for conducting global business, in which he believes he is the ‘master of the deal.’
It is difficult to draw any other conclusion than Trump is indeed crumbling.