Der Trumpenführer gave an interview to the New York Times after being told that the interview was being recorded. The results of the interview have many further convinced that not only is Trump unable to speak coherently, but he is authoritarian and shockingly uninformed on a host of issues. Worse yet, some mental health experts believe he is mentally ill. I have thought the latter for a long time and believe it should have been obvious to anyone not charmed by his call outs to racists and promises to religious extremists. A piece in Vox concludes that Trump is not well mentally. The take away is that sane and rational Americans - and the entire world - ought to be very, very afraid with Trump in the White House. Here are article excerpts:
The president of the United States is not well. That is an uncomfortable thing to say, but it is an even worse thing to ignore.
Consider the interview Trump gave to the New York Times on Thursday. It begins with a string of falsehoods that make it difficult to tell whether the leader of the free world is lying or delusional. Remember, these are President Donald Trump’s words, after being told a recording device is on:
Virtually every Democrat has said there is no collusion. There is no collusion. And even these committees that have been set up. If you look at what’s going on — and in fact, what it’s done is, it’s really angered the base and made the base stronger. My base is stronger than it’s ever been.
It almost goes without saying that literally zero congressional Democrats have said that there was no collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign during the 2016 election. Zero.
What key Democrats are actually saying is closer to the opposite. On December 20, for instance, Sen. Mark Warner, the vice chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee and thus the Senate Democrat leading the investigation into collusion, said, “despite the initial denials of any Russian contacts during the election, this Committee’s efforts have helped uncover numerous and troubling high-level engagements between the Trump campaign and Russian affiliates — many of which have only been revealed in recent months.”
Nor is Trump’s base strengthening, or even holding steady. In a detailed analysis of Trump’s poll numbers, FiveThirtyEight’s Harry Enten concluded that the president is losing the most ground in the reddest states . . .
CNN took a different angle on the same question and also found slippage among Trump’s base. It looked at the change in Trump’s approval ratings from February to November among the demographic groups that formed the core of Trump’s electoral coalition — in every group, there’d been substantial declines. Trump’s numbers have fallen by 8 points among Republicans, by 9 points among voters over 50, by 10 points among whites with no college, by 17 points among white evangelicals.
As for Trump’s contention that “it’s been proven that there is no collusion,” it’s hard to even know how to begin responding to that. In recent months, Trump’s former campaign manager and national security adviser have both been charged with crimes by Robert Mueller, and the investigation is not just ongoing but apparently widening in its scope and ferocity. . . . . Sen. Feinstein has not said that she, or any of the ongoing investigations, has concluded that there was no collusion. What she has said is that investigators believe Trump may have obstructed justice in his efforts to derails inquiries into collusion . . .
It would be comforting, on some level, to believe that Trump is simply lying, that he is trying to convince us of what he knows to be untrue. It is scarier to believe that Trump is delusional, that he has persuaded himself that Democrats have said things they’ve never said, that his base has strengthened when it has actually weakened, that it’s really his opponents under investigation for collusion, that his campaign has been cleared of wrongdoing when the circumstantial case for collusion has only grown stronger.
But that is far from the end of the interview. Trump: “I have absolute right to do what I want to do with the Justice Department”
Read Trump’s phrasing carefully: “I have absolute right to do what I want to do with the Justice Department.” It’s a statement that speaks both to Trump’s yearning for authoritarian power and his misunderstanding of the system in which he actually operates.
And it’s followed by something yet scarier. “For purposes of hopefully thinking I’m going to be treated fairly, I’ve stayed uninvolved with this particular matter,” he says. . . . . He appears to believe that he is engaged in some explicit or implicit quid pro quo with the Department of Justice: He doesn’t fire Jeff Sessions, or demand prosecution of his political enemies, or whatever it is he imagines doing with his “absolute right to do what I want to do,” so long as they treat him and his associates “fairly,” which likely means protecting him from Mueller’s investigation.
Trump does not know what he doesn’t know, and he overestimates what he does know:
I know more about the big bills. … Than any president that’s ever been in office. Whether it’s health care and taxes. Especially taxes. And if I didn’t, I couldn’t have persuaded a hundred. … You ask Mark Meadows [inaudible]. … I couldn’t have persuaded a hundred congressmen to go along with the bill. The first bill, you know, that was ultimately, shockingly rejected ... I know the details of taxes better than anybody. Better than the greatest C.P.A. I know the details of health care better than most, better than most. And if I didn’t, I couldn’t have talked all these people into doing ultimately only to be rejected.
In psychology, there’s an idea known as the Dunning-Kruger effect. It refers to research by David Dunning and Justin Kruger that found the least competent people often believe they are the most competent because they “lack the very expertise needed to recognize how badly they’re doing.” This dynamic helps explain comments like the one Trump makes here.
Over the course of reporting on the Trump White House, I have spoken to people who brief Trump and people who have been briefed by him. . . . In all cases, their judgment of Trump is identical: He is not just notably uninformed but also notably difficult to inform — his attention span is thin, he hears what he wants to hear, he wanders off topic, he has trouble following complex arguments. Trump has trouble following his briefings or even correctly repeating what he has heard.
As the Dunning-Kruger effect suggests, he doesn’t know how much he doesn’t know, and that, combined with his natural tendency toward narcissism, has left him dangerously overconfident in his own knowledge base.
Whatever the cause, it is plainly obvious from Trump’s words that this is not a man fit to be president, that he is not well or capable in some fundamental way. That is an uncomfortable thing to say, and so many prefer not to say it, but Trump does not occupy a job where such deficiencies can be safely ignored.