The President Is Ramping Up as a Public Menace

Jack Holmes
·7 mins read
Photo credit: The Washington Post - Getty Images
Photo credit: The Washington Post - Getty Images

From Esquire

It's hard to know which outbreaks of Presidential Behavior are worthy of note these days. The world's most powerful man has long been a few bulbs short of a chandelier, and he has for some time regularly said things in public that for most private citizens would lead the kids to take away the car keys. But now that he's in a bout with COVID-19, and he's been given a steroid called dexamethasone, normally reserved for patients on ventilators in induced comas, and which can in some cases lead to "mild to moderate psychiatric side effects like anxiety, insomnia, mania or delirium," the stakes seem to have ramped up even higher. The President of the United States is cornered, losing the election and in significant legal peril if he's shorn of the protections of his office, and possibly hopped up on mood-destabilizing drugs to treat his deadly pandemic illness.

With all that in mind, it felt necessary to engage with the president's public exhibition on Thursday, which began with an interview on Maria Bartiromo's Fox Business show—his first live interview since his diagnosis, in which the completely embarrassing Bartiromo TALKED AT HIM EXTREMELY LOUDLY over the phone like you would an elderly parent—and ended with another Fox appearance in the evening, on Sean Hannity's program. Both were by phone, though he also released a video in which he rambled from the White House lawn, telegraphing along the way that his internal polling shows he's hemorrhaging support among seniors. There was also a report from the New York Times in which, using trademark Timesian understatement, it was made clear that the president is losing his mind.

It's hard to wrap your arms around the sheer volume of insane bullshit emanating from the president's immediate vicinity at this very moment. He is yelling in public for his attorney general, William Barr, to prosecute his political opponents, including by sharing a Chris Farley meme. (You know, democracy stuff.) He said if Barr declines to do so, he'll be remembered in history as "a very sad, sad situation." (I think you can book that one.) He called Kamala Harris, the Democratic nominee for Vice President of the United States, a "communist" and a "monster." He said Nancy Pelosi is plotting a coup against him, and while that's deranged, the Speaker of the House has announced plans to discuss the 25th Amendment to the Constitution on Friday. The president, who set some dynamite under economic stimulus negotiations on Wednesday—declaring them over through Election Day and seemingly eager to take the blame—has now signaled he wants to make a deal with that same Nancy Pelosi.

The president mused to Bartiromo that he may have been infected by Gold Star families he hosted at the White House, whom he said always want to hug and kiss him. On the subject of his prognosis, the president declared, "I’m back, because I’m a perfect physical specimen and I’m extremely young." He's headed into his second week in the course of COVID-19, which can be highly dangerous for many patients, particularly 74-year-olds who are clinically obese. Trump says he plans to hold a rally in Florida on Saturday. He repeatedly refused to tell loyal apparatchik Sean Hannity if he's tested negative for COVID yet. He wouldn't tell Bartiromo either, though he did say, "I'm essentially very clean." No one in the president's orbit will say when he last tested negative.

But there was also some more everyday presidential lunacy, particularly in the Hannity interview.

Again, if your grandpa was talkin' like this, you'd take the keys away. (You can hear Hannity—who has reportedly told people he thinks the president is insane, and that was before the 'roids—shuffling his papers nervously.) This guy still has the nuclear codes, even if one of the guys who carries the nuclear football has COVID. By the way, Trump's voice went hoarse and even cut out at points, perhaps as he tried to suppress a cough mid-interview.

Fire up Air Force One! Let's get this guy yelling at people in person!

Elsewhere, the president said the Governor of Virginia supports executing live babies, which is, of course, untrue, and also insane. With Bartiromo earlier in the day, he ran roughshod over her attempts to end the interview and started yelling about Hillary Clinton, and he continued that with Hannity. He repeatedly accused people of treason, and seemed to be on some sort of loop by the end—spying, treason, indictment, Obama, spying. There was, particularly in the Bartiromo chat, an incredible amount of time devoted to Hillary Clinton's email protocol. He concluded his phone chat with BFF Sean by proclaiming Vice President Mike Pence's refusal to commit to a peaceful transfer of power to be his best answer of Wednesday night's debate.

But the most dangerous stuff came on the topic of Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer. On Thursday, the FBI announced they'd busted up a plot by militants to kidnap the sitting governor of a U.S. state, and potentially to hold some sort of "trial" on the basis that she was a "tyrant." (I think we can deduce what the verdict would have been.) Whitmer tied extreme rhetoric from Trump and Republicans over the last few months to the plot uncovered this week. Here was the response from the President of the United States.

Governor Whitmer of Michigan has done a terrible job. She locked down her state for everyone, except her husband’s boating activities. The Federal Government provided tremendous help to the Great People of Michigan. My Justice Department and Federal Law Enforcement announced......today that they foiled a dangerous plot against the Governor of Michigan. Rather than say thank you, she calls me a White Supremacist—while Biden and Democrats refuse to condemn Antifa, Anarchists, Looters and Mobs that burn down Democrat run cities......I do not tolerate ANY extreme violence. Defending ALL Americans, even those who oppose and attack me, is what I will always do as your President! Governor Whitmer—open up your state, open up your schools, and open up your churches!

Coming from the "LIBERATE MICHIGAN!" guy, this is basically an endorsement of the extreme rhetoric against Whitmer and a preview of how he will handle further unrest as the election ramps up. His mention of the "dangerous plot" and his declaration he does not "tolerate ANY extreme violence" are almost footnotes in the overall message, and they're heavily diluted.

Again, the president is not well, and he is deeply afraid of what will happen to him if he loses. The guy's business is a rat's nest of loan liabilities and potential tax crimes. He has demonstrated zero concern about the prospect of political violence, and continually characterizes his opponents as treasonous criminals attempting to rig the election, which he has declared will, in fact, be rigged if he doesn't win. There is no reason to believe he will do anything but make the situation more dangerous while he has any tools at his disposal to do so. He is a danger to the republic and the citizens he purportedly serves.

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