Is Donald mad—or mad?
Mad as in angry…or mad as in deeply disconnected from the here and now? Not halfway through his first 100 days, there is screaming evidence for both diagnoses.
No doubt the new president is angry. On Friday, just before flying to Mar-a-Lago, a fuming Trump summoned his top aides to the Oval Office. The group included chief strategist Steve Bannon, chief of staff Reince Priebus, daughter Ivanka, son-in-law Jared Kushner, communications director Mike Dubke and press secretary Sean Spicer.
The prez was positively seething that loyal Attorney General Jeff Sessions will no longer head the Justice Department’s investigation into Russia’s attack on the 2016 election. That made Sessions the second high-ranking Trumpster to get publicly slapped for being too cozy with the dour Russian Ambassador, Sergey Kislyak — and then lying about it.
The week had gotten off to such a cheerful start, Trump grumbled to the assembled aides. The reviews for Tuesday’s speech to Congress had been so upbeat — and now this!?
But in the hot glare of Palm Beach, angry-mad soon gave way to the fact-free, certifiable, seeing-things-that-don’t-exist kind of mad. Without a crumb of actual evidence, the Tweet-happy commander-in-chief accused “Bad (or sick) guy” Barack Obama of tapping the Trump Tower telephones. “Nixon/Watergate,” typed the so-called leader of free world. “McCarthyism!” Apparently, he’d been listening to right-wing talk radio or reading Breitbart News again.
Obama’s people declared the claim “simply false.” And all day yesterday, sane-ish political people on both sides of the aisle were trying to decide: Which was it? Should they be baffled, frightened or stunned?
“The president’s in trouble,” snorted New York’s Chuck Schumer, the Democratic leader of the Senate. Republican senator Ben Sasse charged that Trump had just unleashed a “civilization-warping crisis of public trust.” A nice turn of phrase! Republican Marco Rubio could only shake his head and roll his eyes. “I've never heard that allegation made before by anybody,” the Senate intelligence committee member said.
But hand it to Republican Mike Rogers, former chairman of the House intel committee, for delivering the quote of the day. “He just put another quarter in the conspiracy parking meter,” Rogers said of our mad president.
Metro columnist Ellis Henican is a veteran journalist, a bestselling author and a frequent commentator on CNN and other TV networks. Follow him on Twitter @henican.