We'll go one step farther: On Friday night's Eleventh Hour, Donny Deutsch delivered the mail.
Deutsch has known Donald J. Trump for decades. He remains friendly with Michael Cohen.
As someone from outside the guild, he tends to be willing to ignore guild rules. For that reason, he spoke to Brian Williams in the manner highlighted below about the commander-in-chief:
WILLIAMS (5/17/19): Donny, I don't want to "end dark," but I'm going to have to. And that is to say that, when you are on Deadline: White House with Nicole Wallace at 4 in the afternoon, you are often one of the voices that reminds the table, and reminds the viewers beyond, exactly how bad things are in your view, and exactly how dark we've gotten.Brian closed with a plug for an upcoming show. Donny called Trump a "sociopath" and seemed to say that he wouldn't go peacefully.
But like the frog boiling experiment, it hasn't felt like that. It would feel like that if we took a vacation on the moon and came back. So the question, how dark are things right now to you?
DEUTSCH: Very, very dark. And I want to say this with no exaggeration. If you look throughout history and [if] you become a student of history and the worst of what humans have done throughout history, Trump is using that play book in every way you possibly can.
You start with creating an "Other." You get enough rich people to look the other way and that's how you get power.
And then what you do is obviously destroy the credibility of a press. You get a judicial system that is no longer independent. You start to blur separation of powers.
And we should be very frightened. It's not just saying, you know, "Oh, authoritarian tendencies." I believe this man is capable of horrific, horrific deeds. And I'm not saying specifically what that is, but let your imagination go.
And also, do not kid yourself. If he gets voted out of office, he will say it was fake. He will say the polls were rigged. He will tell his people to take to the streets.
People have to understand this is not a man who is playing with any boundaries on what a normal civilization and normal democracy has. And I use the word "sociopath," and I know you're not supposed to use psychological terms, but—and Michael Cohen who, you know, stood by his side for ten years, the last thing he said when he spoke to Congress was, "He will not go softly." So the Democrats better get this one right.
WILLIAMS: It is no longer darkness on the edge of town. It's come downtown and all around.
Donny Deutsch, the host of Saturday Night Politics, tomorrow evening, 8 PM Eastern time on this very network. Donny, thanks very much for coming on our broadcast.
Is Donald J. Trump a sociopath? We aren't equipped to make that judgment. Neither, we'll guess, is Deutsch.
Beyond that, Trump hasn't engaged in "the worst of what humans have done throughout history," at least not at this point.
That said, Deutsch has known Trump for decades. In his assessment, Trump is capable of "horrific, horrific deeds."
We don't know the extent to which that assessment is true. That said, we see one flaw in Deutsch's logic:
As he finished, Deutsch seemed to suggest that there's some way the Democrats can somehow "get this one right." We're not sure why he would say that.
If Trump won't go peacefully after an election defeat, he also wouldn't go peacefully after an impeachment and removal. Imaginably, he could start a war to help his re-election chances. Could he imaginably start a war in an attempt to declare some type of martial law after an election defeat, or after removal from office?
We don't have the slightest idea. "Common sense" says that he wouldn't do something like that.
That said, we have no prior experience with a chief executive who seems to be this disordered—with a man our cable team would like to lock up as soon as he leaves office.
In a more rational world, a full discussion of this matter would be under way. But as Deutsch told Williams, our journalists have agreed to play by a rule in which "you're not supposed to use psychological terms," even if the man with the nuclear codes seems to possibly be psychologically or cognitively unwell.
Back in the 1990s, Brian Williams was involved in The Rise of Leadership Down. It was the era when NBC News and its cable arms were directed by General Electric CEO Jack Welch, an aggressive conservative who seemed to assemble a somewhat peculiar Nantucket-based news team.
The war against the woman Trump (barely managed to) "beat" started during that journalistically disordered era. There was a whole lot of "darkness" back then too, but the liberal world stared into air. Eventually, the craziness of people like Chris Matthews helped lead us down the road to our current state of affairs.
(If he hadn't called her "Nurse Ratched" and "Evita" so often, might she have beaten Trump in the electoral college, not just in the popular voter?)
Elsewhere, skillful analysts whose work we admire still want to know why we "obsessed so much" back in the day. That is to say, in real time, not a full twenty years later!
"Basic skill levels still seem to be down," we thoughtfully say to the analysts.