Tuesday, November 28, 2017
Or maybe he's just batshit crazy
The New York Times is reporting tonight that our president creates his own reality.And he's been doing it since he took office. In fact he's been doing it for years. That "you can believe me or you can believe your lyin'eyes" thing is not a strategy. He may not even know it isa lie. In case anyone's wondering, this is very abnormal behavior:
Shortly after his victory last year, Donald J. Trump began revisiting one of his deepest public humiliations: the infamous “Access Hollywood” tape of him making vulgar comments about women.
Despite his public acknowledgment of the recording’s authenticity in the final days of the presidential campaign — and his hasty videotaped apology under pressure from his advisers — Mr. Trump as president-elect began raising the prospect with allies that it may not have been him on the tape after all.
Most of Mr. Trump’s aides ignored his changing story. But in January, shortly before his inauguration, Mr. Trump told a Republican senator that he wanted to investigate the recording that had him boasting about grabbing women’s genitals.
“We don’t think that was my voice,” Mr. Trump told the senator, according to a person familiar with the conversation. Since then, Mr. Trump has continued to suggest that the tape that nearly upended his campaign was not actually him, according to three people close to the president.
As the issue of sexual harassment has swept through the news media, politics and entertainment industries, Mr. Trump has persisted in denying allegations that he, too, made unwanted advances on multiple women in past years. In recent days, he has continued to seed doubt about his appearance on the “Access Hollywood” tape, stunning his advisers.
More generally, Mr. Trump’s views on the issue have changed depending upon the political party involved. He has praised women for coming forward after accusations were made against a Democrat, Senator Al Franken of Minnesota. But in the case of Roy S. Moore, a Republican candidate for Senate from Alabama, Mr. Trump has said he believes Mr. Moore’s denials that he behaved inappropriately with teenage girls, and he has effectively endorsed Mr. Moore’s candidacy.
Mr. Trump’s falsehoods about the “Access Hollywood” tape are part of his lifelong habit of attempting to create and sell his own version of reality. Advisers say he continues to privately harbor a handful of conspiracy theories that have no grounding in fact.
In recent months, they say, Mr. Trump has used closed-door conversations to question the authenticity of President Barack Obama’s birth certificate. He has also repeatedly claimed that he lost the popular vote last year because of widespread voter fraud, according to advisers and lawmakers.
One senator who listened as the president revived his doubts about Mr. Obama’s birth certificate chuckled on Tuesday as recalled the conversation. The president, he said, has had a hard time letting go of his claim that Mr. Obama was not born in the United States. The senator asked not to be named to discuss private conversations.
Mr. Trump’s journeys into the realm of manufactured facts have been frequent enough that his own staff has sought to nudge friendly lawmakers to ask questions of Mr. Trump in meetings that will steer him toward safer terrain.
To the president’s critics, his conspiracy-mongering goes to the heart of why he poses a threat to the country.
“It’s dangerous to democracy; you’ve got to have shared facts,” Senator Jeff Flake, Republican of Arizona, said in an interview on Tuesday. “And on so many of these, there’s empirical evidence that says no: You didn’t win the popular vote, there weren’t more people at your inauguration than ever, that was your voice on that tape, you admitted it before.”
Mr. Flake, who is not running for re-election, said in the interview that he was about to begin a series of speeches on the Senate floor outlining his concerns about Mr. Trump. The first, he said, will be dedicated to what Mr. Flake called the president’s disregard for the truth.
Many Republican lawmakers — not wanting to undermine the party’s fragile negotiations over a much-sought tax overhaul — declined to talk on the record about Mr. Trump’s pattern of plunging into what one senator called “his rabbit holes.” But the president’s success last year has also left some in his party in awe of his achievement and uneasy about angering his base of supporters.
“He’s nobody’s choir boy, but neither were people like Winston Churchill, for example,” said the senator. “This guy, I think, is a historic person of destiny at a time and place in America when we’ve got to make a right-hand turn here.” Asked if the truth still matters, Mr. Perdue said: “Oh, absolutely. Facts are what you base decisions on.”
But Mr. Trump seems to not want to fully accept those facts that are embarrassing or inconvenient.
In October 2016, when The Washington Post first emailed Mr. Trump’s aides about the dialogue from the “Access Hollywood” tape, Mr. Trump said the words described by the newspaper did not sound like things he would say, according to two people familiar with the discussions. However, when an aide played the audio after the newspaper posted it online, Mr. Trump, who had been preparing for his second presidential debate with Hillary Clinton, did not deny it.
“It’s me,” he told people in the room as he listened. Yet after The New York Times published an article last weekend revealing that the president had questioned the authenticity of the recording, White House aides refused to answer questions about whether Mr. Trump still believes it was him on the tape.
Mr. Trump’s friends did not bother denying that the president was creating an alternative version of events. One Republican lawmaker, who asked not to be identified, said that Mr. Trump’s false statements had become familiar to people over time. The president continues to boast of winning districts that he did not in fact win, the lawmaker said, and of receiving 52 percent of the women’s vote, even though exit polls show that 42 percent of women supported him.
Remember, Trump wasn't talking to himself. Billy Bush was on that tape too. Weirdly he doesn't share Trump's delusion. He said:
"Obviously I'm embarrassed and ashamed. It's no excuse, but this happened eleven years ago—I was younger, less mature, and acted foolishly in playing along. I'm very sorry."
“Looking back upon what was said on that bus, I wish I had changed the topic. [Trump] liked TV and competition. I could’ve said, ‘Can you believe the ratings on whatever?’ But I didn't have the strength of character to do it.”
Instead, Bush characterizes his younger self, who rode that bus with the future President of the United States, as a “sycophantic” “pleaser.” Describing the nerve-wracking assignment of covering both Trump and The Apprentice at the time, Bush lays out a scenario that might sound familiar to anyone who follows the civil-war currently raging inside the White House. According to Bush, Trump “decided a lot of times from day to day, moment to moment, who he liked, who was in and who was out. And my job was to remain in. I needed to be in, or maybe I’d be out.”
He seems to accept that it was Trump he was talking to that day and that he said what we heard. It is on tape after all.
Trump isn't doing this as a strategy. He's doing it because he has forced people to buy into his lies simply by asserting them for years. He may even believe them after he tells them enough times. He is so narcissistic that he thinks he can alter reality itself. He is ill.
You might wonderhow this can go on. Who knows? But at least they'll get their motherfucking tax cuts.
Update: The Washington Post has more:
President Trump has expressed certainty that the special-counsel probe into his campaign’s possible collusion with Russia will be finished by the end of the year, complete with an exoneration from Robert S. Mueller III, according to several friends who have spoken with him in recent days.
Trump has dismissed his historically low approval ratings as “fake” and boasted about what he calls the unprecedented achievements of his presidency, even while chatting behind the scenes, saying no president since Harry Truman has accomplished as much at this point.
Read on, there's more. Good God.
digby 11/28/2017 08:00:00 PM