Josh Marshall on yesterday’s Trump presser:
This is that rare time when I think the cliched phrase is appropriate: That press conference speaks for itself. There’s very little I can think to add. It all amounts to a confirmation of what most of us already know. This man is not emotionally or characterologically equipped to serve as President. He lacks the focus, the ability to commit to even a passable amount of work without immediate emotional gratification. Thus his decision to hold a campaign rally in Florida on Saturday. (It’s literally a campaign event, put on by his 2020 reelection campaign). Trump lacks the emotional resilience or toughness to deal with what is the inevitable criticism and difficulties of being President, which – lets be clear – are great.
These different deficits all feed upon each other. He lacks the steadiness for the job.
There are credible reports of Richard Nixon being in this sort of state in the final weeks of his presidency. But Nixon, to give him his due, was at the center of the greatest political scandal in American history, bearing down on him for months and pushing him toward the greatest political disgrace and humiliation in his nation’s political history. He was overseeing the Vietnam War, witnessing various domestic civil disturbances, grappling with foreign policy blowups which neared superpower confrontations. There was a lot going on. Trump has been President for less than four weeks. Aside from domestic, media driven and other crises of his own making, virtually nothing has happened.
But the man who just appeared before the press for a free-ranging airing of grievances looked tired, sullen and half broken. His bracing insistence that everything is going perfectly in his White House sounded desperate and bizarre.
If it weren’t for the fact that lives — a lot of them — hang in the balance, it would have been fun to watch, like an old episode of Seinfeld. But it’s not.
I don’t like to throw around words like “crazy” or “mentally ill” because that trivializes mental illness and those who suffer from them. In addition, psychiatrists and psychologists have a taboo about diagnosing someone from afar. But when you see events like this, you know you’re dealing with someone who either knows how to manipulate the crowd and knows exactly what kind of reaction he’s going to get from a base of True Believers, or you’re up against someone whose perceptions of reality are, shall we say, skewed.
While I’m not a psychiatrist or a medical professional, I am a doctor of theatre, specializing in dramatic criticism. It’s perfectly within my area to review and analyze a performance from the audience and make an evaluation of what I’m seeing based on my years of study and performances. I have to say that if Trump is acting and all of this is just a performance, he’s got it down well. But it also requires a great deal of talent and energy to maintain that level of characterization and embodiment, and at some point the scene has to end, the lights have to come up, and the make-up comes off. But if this is the real thing and it’s not an act, then get the hook.