White House staff have been leaking information to the press in unprecedented numbers since the beginning of Trump’s presidency, but recent leaks indicate that Trump aides are starting to question the president’s very sanity.
“He just seemed to go crazy today,” one senior Republican aide told Politico after Trump’s bizarre behavior last Monday during a series of media appearances.
In one 24 hour span, the president suggested that the Civil War was unnecessary and that Andrew Jackson (a slaveowner who died 16 years before the war) could have stopped it. He said he would be “honored” to meet with brutal North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un “under the right circumstances” while also saying “none of us are safe” from a North Korea attack. He extended an invitation to the White House for Philippines president Rogrigo Duterte – who has executed thousands of his own citizens without trial and has bragged about being the Philippines’ version of Hitler.
Trump also casually brought up the possibility of a tax on gasoline – which he then backed off of – and said he was “looking at” possibly breaking up the big banks, which quickly caused the stock market to fall and provoked outrage from within his own party. He also promised to enact changes to the Republican health care bill despite not being sure what was actually in the bill.
“[The media appearances] were not helpful to us,” another perplexed senior administration official told Politico. “There was no point to do all of them.”
Republicans familiar to the Trump administration are similarly befuddled, with one senior Republican consultant confessing “I have no idea what they view as a successful media hit.”
Trump’s alarming behavior continued today, when he tweeted that he may attempt to change longstanding Senate rules which require 60 votes to approve a budget plan so that he can enact his agenda with less resistance. He also said the government “needs a good ‘shutdown’ in September to fix this mess!”
Presidential historians, who often are able to put current events into a larger context, seem equally confused.
“It seems to be among the most bizarre recent 24 hours in American presidential history,” said presidential historian Douglas Brinkley. “It was all just surreal disarray and a confused mental state from the president.”
David Blight, a Civil War historian at Yale University, said Trump’s comments about the Civil War will likely continue to stoke the passions of American racists. While this accusation has been made before, Blight wondered whether Trump was even doing it on purpose, in light of his erratic behavior.
“White supremacists, lost causers, states-rights activists could latch onto this,” he said. “I don’t know if Trump even knows he’s doing it. You can be too ignorant to know you’re ignorant.”
Nathan Wellman is a Los Angeles-based journalist, author, and playwright. His less-political Youtube channel can be found here. Follow him on Twitter: @LightningWOW