December 9, 2018

Trump, Fantasy and Reality

From Donald Trump to Stormy Daniels to Rudolph Giuliani to Michael Avenatti there is virtually no escape from the Washington circus—all news all the time in multiple forms.

That reality makes it all the more important to sift through the flood of information to find the incident or comments that offer some insight into what is animating the chaos and what lies ahead.

On Wednesday the nation witnessed, but paid insufficient attention to, a clarifying moment that offered a glimmer into Donald Trump’s mind and the world in which he lives.

He and Melania attended a meeting at FEMA (the Federal Emergency Management Agency) ostensibly to discuss the upcoming hurricane season and FEMA’s preparations.

Trump welcomed each cabinet member in attendance with a brief comment on the job they were doing (only Attorney General Jeff Sessions was short-changed on laudatory comments from the boss) with the predictable sidebars having nothing to do with the topic at hand (e.g. the Black unemployment rate).

Trump then then launched into a brief commentary about the “great people” and the “great job” that FEMA has done in recent disaster relief efforts. For a while he followed the script.

But then, suddenly, he let loose with his all too predictable extemporaneous “thoughts.” Thoughts that were, simply, bizarre. He decided to single out the Coast Guard for special praise because, of all things, their “branding” (i.e. they are part of our armed forces, but his attention is drawn to their marketing prowess ) and their courage in rescuing Texans in the oddest of circumstances,

increased branding—the brand of the Coast Guard has been something incredible what’s happened. Saved 16,000 people, many of them in Texas, for whatever reason that is. People went out in their boats to watch the hurricane. That didn’t work out too well.” [Watch video here, emphasis added].

But the branding faux pas was the least of his strange thoughts.

At a cabinet meeting at FEMA, seemingly aimed to encourage and praise a federal agency before the most challenging part of its year—hurricane season Trump betrays what is so wrong with him and his dealings with the world. In performing what should be a straightforward and mundane task, the president of the United States couldn’t avoid demonstrating his bizarre magical thinking—believing that something is actually so because he says it is so.

Trump’s assertion that the Coast Guard rescued 16,000 people, many of whom went out to sea “to watch the hurricane”— is simply not true, it never happened. Politifact rates it a “Pants on fire” falsehood. The Republican governor of Texas and sheriff of Harris County both wondered what Trump was talking about.

It’s not an assertion that he needed to make as a debating point or to advance an argument he was in. It was a gratuitous comment that scarily offers an insight into how reckless and sloppy Trump’s mind is.

One has to wonder what animates the president to brazenly describe his fantasies and then to actually believe them. If you watch him make his claim, he appears genuine—reality is not an issue that he seems concerned about.

That magical thinking concurrently betrays his shocking lack of logical thinking.

What normal, sane, fact-constrained individual would assume that thousands of people would take to their boats during a category 4 storm with winds blowing at 130 miles per hour to “watch the hurricane.”

It simply defies common sense. And if one heard it, normal folks—let alone the president of the United States—would do a little fact checking before making such a screwy assertion before the world.

But not Trump.

Trump seems to have no filter where logic intercedes before he makes an assertion; the tragedy is that those around him are all too eager to acquiesce to his crazy musings. He asserts, the heads nod and for those of his aides who have some modicum of common sense and attempt to do clean up-he decries and demeans them.

The video and transcript can’t be cleaned up, his nuttiness is indisputable, Trump simply makes things up and thinks he is right.

Fortunately, in this case, no one pays a price for his mendacity. But that same lack of rigor and logic are revealed in areas that matter to the country, to our security, to our democratic institutions and our future.

The sycophants who surround him and the Congressional leaders who lack spine will someday have to see and declare that this emperor has no clothes. It is they who stand between us and disaster. As a wag once observed, “A lie has no power whatsoever by its mere utterance. Its power emerges when someone else agrees to believe the lie.”