Will the White House Send Donald Trump Over the Edge Into Madness?


Andrew Sullivan returns to semi-regular writing about politics today. His first topic is Donald Trump’s apparently uncontrollable lying, and what it means about his mental stability:

I know we’re not supposed to bring this up — but it is staring us brutally in the face. I keep asking myself this simple question: If you came across someone in your everyday life who repeatedly said fantastically and demonstrably untrue things, what would you think of him? If you showed up at a neighbor’s, say, and your host showed you his newly painted living room, which was a deep blue, and then insisted repeatedly — manically — that it was a lovely shade of scarlet, what would your reaction be? If he then dragged out a member of his family and insisted she repeat this obvious untruth in front of you, how would you respond?

If the next time you dropped by, he was still raving about his gorgeous new red walls, what would you think? Here’s what I’d think: This man is off his rocker. He’s deranged; he’s bizarrely living in an alternative universe; he’s delusional. If he kept this up, at some point you’d excuse yourself and edge slowly out of the room and the house and never return. You’d warn your other neighbors. You’d keep your distance. If you saw him, you’d be polite but keep your distance.

I think this is a fundamental reason why so many of us have been so unsettled, anxious, and near panic these past few months. It is not so much this president’s agenda. That always changes from administration to administration. It is that when the lynchpin of an entire country is literally delusional, clinically deceptive, and responds to any attempt to correct the record with rage and vengeance, everyone is always on edge.

This is true, but here’s the thing: as near as anyone can tell, Trump has been like this for decades. The difference, of course, is that before this year he was mainly in the entertainment industry, where his delusions were more or less harmless. They also made for great TV, so no one ever pushed back very seriously. This was something Trump could handle.

The Oval Office is different. There’s a lot of pushback, and not of the giggling Billy Bush variety. The press is on him 24/7, people die when he screws up, and his policies end up as disasters thanks to his ADD and unwillingness to think beyond bumper stickers. We don’t know how Trump’s fragile psyche will respond to continuous rolling disasters and front pages like the one in the previous post. That’s why everyone is on edge.

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