Donald Trump has never seemed the most stable of characters. From his days as a fixture in the gossip columns of the New York City tabloids, to his turn as a reality TV star, through his quixotic run for president that ended in his most-unlikely election, the man formerly known as The Donald has always seemed not a little whacky.
But even by his singularly low standards, the president’s Twitter frenzy on Wednesday morning was worrisome. It seemed to be more clear and indisputable evidence that the frequently unstable Trump had become even more unbalanced.
Trump, without comment, retweeted three postings from a fringe right-wing group that calls itself Britain First. The tweets, each containing a video purporting to show Muslims engaged in violent acts, are of dubious origin. But in Trump’s through-the-looking-glass world, where he calls real news fake, facts are immaterial. It’s all just a show. So he retweeted the videos. Their titles:
“Muslim migrant beats up Dutch boy on crutches!”
“Muslim destroys a statue of Virgin Mary!”
“Islamist mob pushes teenage boy off roof and beats him to death!”
There is no reason whatsoever to believe that the videos represent what their sensational titles claim.
And yet Trump retweeted them. Yes, the president of the United States did this. And though his move was outrageous, by anyone’s definition, it was, or should have been, the next easily anticipated step in Trump’s very public downward spiral. There are only two real choices here: Either Trump is losing his way, or he is pretending to. Each is exceedingly troubling in its own right.
If the president of the United States, the most powerful man on the planet, cannot be counted on to act rationally – no matter what – we are all in real trouble.
With this guy as president, each new day brings a new opportunity for a new self-made crisis.
During last year’s presidential campaign, this space repeatedly raised doubts about Trump’s abilities and qualifications. He not only demonstrated little understanding of national or global affairs, he also appeared to lack even the most basic sort of curiosity. He didn’t know what he didn’t know. And didn’t care to know. Add to this his frequent race-baiting, his demonization of immigrants and foreigners and Muslims in particular, his undeniably sketchy character, his lack of experience in politics or in the military, and the mix appeared toxic in the extreme.
Nonetheless, after Trump’s stunning win 13 months back, we strove to give him the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps he would grow into the job. Maybe the gravity of the office would change him.
But no. Time and again, the reality TV star shows that he’s got no clue, no grasp, no sense of how he ought to be acting. His Wednesday anti-Muslim retweet fest was only the latest. And as egregious as a display as it was, no one can rationally believe that it will be his last.
An increasingly unmoored, unhinged, angry and frequently incoherent character is president of the United States. And the members of his Cabinet and most Republicans in the Congress continue to act as though everything is just fine and dandy.
It most decidedly isn’t.
They are whistling past the graveyard. They are shirking their constitutional duty. They are hoping for the best, or at least for something better, when there’s absolutely no cause to have such hope.
The situation is dire. Less than a year after Trump took the oath of office, one can reasonably ask if we are witnessing our nation’s chief executive losing his mind before our very eyes. The question isn’t a pretty one. Neither is the most likely answer.
We are long past the time for those in power to continue to remain silent, to keep looking the other way.