In a presidency marked by incoherent pronouncements and bizarre visions of grandeur, Donald Trump seemed to reach new, troubling heights last week.
He referred to himself as “the chosen one.” He quoted a rabid conspiracy theorist radio host who declared that Israeli Jews love Trump as if he were the “King of Israel” and “the second coming of God,” while Trump himself accused American Jews of “great disloyalty” if they voted for Democrats. He attacked the prime minister of Denmark (“nasty”) because she will not sell him Greenland and she mocked the very idea as “absurd.” He suggested he might serve more than two terms in office. He slurred his words while reading a speech off a teleprompter. He accused journalists of trying to ruin the U.S. economy. He claimed Google had “manipulated” millions of votes in Hillary Clinton's favor during the 2016 election. He suggested giving himself a Medal of Honor. He said doctors in El Paso, Texas, left their operating rooms mid-surgery in order to greet him during his visit there following a local gun massacre. And he referred to the NRA as if it were a co-equal branch of the federal government.
That was all within the span of approximately 48 hours. For all previous American presidents, that would have far surpassed the irrational missteps they made during entire four- or eight-year terms. For Trump, it was just his vacation week.
Yet the press remains consistently timid in dealing with Trump's blatantly unstable behavior. Newsrooms today nearly uniformly refuse to address the mounting, obvious signs that Trump remains a deeply troubled man. In other words: Nothing to see here, folks.
Following Trump's erratic Greenland episode, The New York Times ran a head-shaking editorial headlined, “Mr. Trump and Greenland: Is This Real Life?” and described his strange view of the world as “frightening.” But the Times refused to acknowledge the obvious context regarding Trump's instability. And of course, the Times refuses to call for Trump's resignation, even though it's clear the paper's editorial board views him as a dangerous, befuddled fool.
In its news pages, the Times labeled the Greenland farce an “odd moment” in the Trump presidency, which is an overly kind description. Then, in reviewing his bizarre week, the paper conceded the diplomatic embarrassment came “at a time when Mr. Trump has seemed particularly erratic.”
True. But what does that mean, for Trump to be “erratic”? What does it mean for the most powerful leader in the free world to be acting in a bizarre and often schizophrenic fashion? Why aren't the Times and other news outlets consulting experts in the field of mental health on a regular basis? And why isn't Trump's obviously “erratic” behavior the story of his presidency, since it's so obviously an unprecedented development in this country's history of nearly 250 years?