There’s been a change in President Donald Trump. He used to say he had accomplished more than any other President, a debatable claim. But now he’s using messianic language about himself.
“I’m the chosen one,” he said Wednesday about what he claims is a singular, and still only hoped-for, trade deal with China.
That was after he quoted a conspiracy theorist who described him, literally, as being like the King of Israel and said Jews “love him like the second coming of God” - – also known as the Messiah.
Then Trump joked in front of a group of veterans about giving himself the Medal of Honor – an award that recognizes the highest levels of military valor.
“Is this real life?” asked the New York Times Editorial Board on Wednesday in a piece about Trump’s decision to cancel a visit to Denmark over its Prime Minister’s cool reaction to his idea that the US should buy Greenland. (She was given the designation “nasty” on Wednesday, joining other prominent women who have crossed Trump.)
The Times wasn’t arguing that the idea of buying Greenland was a bad one but that Trump’s decision to go diplomatically nuclear with Denmark – a tiny country that has been a steady military ally – over a perceived slight involving a real estate offer that wasn’t even officially made is surreal.
And that’s the point. Trump’s reality – where countries can be bought and sold and where it’s worth spending a day rhetorically fighting Denmark – is different from other people’s.
His amazingly thin skin, his combative foreign policy, his complete rejection of diplomacy, his demand for complete loyalty all come at a very real public cost.
He continues to pursue nuclear talks with a regime run by an infantile strongman with whom he feels he has a good relationship despite most diplomats saying he has enabled anti-US propaganda.
His paranoia about a deep state and a witch hunt out to ruin his presidency has threatened American confidence in the justice system and the intelligence community.
His supreme belief in his negotiating ability has alienated American allies and brought the country into a trade war with China that increasingly threatens the world economy.
His inability to back down led to the longest partial government shutdown in US history.
There’s been a historic level of turnover in his Cabinet as he turns hot and cold and then either discards top aides very publicly or is abandoned by them.
And the misstated facts and outright lies he spreads seem to be increasing and not decreasing during his time in the White House. CNN’s Daniel Dale counted 84 false claims emitted from the President either by tweet or by mouth last week. That was, according to Dale, a record during the last six weeks. Trump’s all-time record came just before the 2018 midterms, so stay tuned for more from Trump as the presidential campaign heats up.
It is not just his inability to use facts, however. Everything becomes about him. Even during his trip to El Paso to comfort the victims of gun violence, he bragged about this size of his rally there months before and criticized the city’s mayor as a RINO.
Either he’s trolling everyone, saying outlandish things to get a rise or, as some psychiatrists viewing him from afar have argued for some time, he may be becoming delusional.
As far as the Constitution is concerned, it might not matter what his mental state is. The mechanism to remove a President from office for unfitness is the 25th Amendment, which requires a mutiny of his Cabinet, large portions of which aren’t filled by permanent officials. He’s in office and surrounded by people who never publicly disagree with him.
But just because he is President and there’s little or no chance he’d ever be removed does not mean there’s not cause for concern when he starts sounding like he has a God complex.
His former communications director Anthony Scaramucci, who was fired by Trump and was then a surrogate for him, has fully turned on the President and is encouraging fellow Republicans to do the same.
“I broke from Trump because not only has his behavior become more erratic and his rhetoric more inflammatory, but also because, like all demagogues, he is incapable of handling constructive criticism,” Scaramucci wrote in The Washington Post, a sentiment that drew the scorn of his former boss.