Thursday, October 19, 2017

A Man With A Plan

In late June, Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski noted they "have known Mr. Trump for more than a decade and have some fond memories of our reltationship together. But that hasn't stopped us from criticizing his abhorrent behavior or worrying about his fitness," which they evidently believe borders on mental illness.

"I think — I think he’s crazy. I mean, I don’t say that lightly and as a kind of a goofy guy,” said Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) to Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), who clearly chooses not to disagree, in a conversation they thought private

Many psychiatrists argue that Donald Trump suffers from a sort of  mental illness.  John McCain recognizes Trump "can be impulsive in his speech and conduct," which is about as far as any senator can go in questioning a president's personal behavior.

Similarly, Jay Bookman of the Atlanta Journal Constitution argues the President "is not a man who picks his battles carefully or strategically. To him, conflict is not a necessary evil or a means to an end, it is his natural state of existence."  Benjamin Hart in New York magazine explained this perspective:

Almost eight months into his decidedly abnormal presidency, there remains a persistent and surprisingly widespread impulse among political journalists to transmogrify Trump into a traditional president, one who makes decisions based on long-term strategy, one not governed by pure id — a president who has something in common with men who came before him. (Perhaps there’s something comforting in that?)...

Waiting for him to transform into some semblance of a normal human being, much less a president governed by anything beyond impulse, will be a long wait indeed.

Donald Trump certainly is very impulsive and he may suffer from a mental and/or psychological disorder. But with all of that, there is a strategic element and a method to his madness. As Chris Hayes pointed out Tuesday evening, "the President has his own conceept of truth. To him the question isn't whether he's right. It's whether  many people are saying it." Hayes referred to Trump's interview in late January with ABC News' David Muir and an interaction earlier Tuesday when

President Trump was confronted by Mike Sacks of Scripps News Service, who reminded Trump that he has "repeatedly said that we are the highest tax nation in the world when that's been seen as objectively false, with the credibility you need to pass tax reform."  Then

Mr Trump responded by interrupting and claiming he was merely using it as shorthand and it might be more accurate to say the US is the most taxed nation among developed countries.

He said: “Some people say it differently, and they will say we are the highest developed nation taxed in the world.” 

“A lot of people know exactly what I am talking about, and in many cases they think I am right when I say the highest. As far as I am concerned, we are really essentially the highest. But if you’d like to add the ‘developed nation,’ you can say that, too. But a lot of people agree that the way I am saying is exactly correct.”

A lot of people know exactly what I am talking about... they think I am right... a lot of people agree with me.

The President's assumption is decidely and demonstrably false but the "everybody is saying it" tactic is a tried-and-true formula for Trump. Five days after he was inaugurated, he was interviewed by ABC's Muir. Muir told the President that Speaker Ryan had said "I have seen no evidence" that 3-5 million people had voted illegally and  that Senator Graham had observed "it's the most inappropriate thing for a president to say without proof."   However, it became clear that Trump was unconcerned with accuracy when he responded

Let me just tell you, you know what's important, millions of people agree with me when I say that if you would’ve looked on one of the other networks and all of the people that were calling in they're saying, "We agree with Mr. Trump. We agree." They're very smart people.

The people that voted for me- lots of  people are saying they saw things happen.

Millions of people agree with me... lots of people are saying they saw things happen.

Logic suggests there is a reason, somewhere, that Donald Trump thinks if he keeps repeating something, and adds that many people believe it, other voters will conclude that they also should.  This strategy did not appear to him out of  thin air for

Donald Trump reportedly owned a copy of Adolf Hitler’s speeches and kept them in his bedside cabinet.

A 1990 Vanity Fair article about billionaire businessman stated that Mr Trump’s then wife Ivana, said her husband owned a copy of “My New Order” – a printed collection of the Nazi leader’s speeches.

Marie Brenner, the article’s author, wrote: “Ivana Trump told her lawyer Michael Kennedy that from time to time her husband reads a book of Hitler's collected speeches, 'My New Order', which he keeps in a cabinet by his bed. 

Call him remarkably, even unbelievably, impulsive and mentally ill or emotionally twisted. Whatever he is, however, he has a strategy and one which has kept him extremely popular with a sizeable minority of American voters.

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