All the president's symptoms: In last Saturday's matinee performance, the sheer stupidity of Donald Trump's claims occasionally provided some comic relief.
The rare matinee performance began at 4:15 PM Eastern. Before long, the president was reciting one of his favorite monologues—the one about the way the fiendishly dishonest governors have been making absurd requests.
Governor Cuomo was named without being named. The commander in chief said this:
TRUMP (4/4/20): It’s very understandable that officials would seek to get the most they can get for their communities, but the fears of the shortages have led to inflated requests. We have some states and areas where they’re just asking for far more. I mean, look, we had one state asking for 40,000 ventilators. Forty thousand. Think of it: 40,000! It’s not possible. They won’t need that many, and now they’re admitting they don’t need that many. But we’re getting as many as we can to them.Some governors are asking for ventilators even when they know they don't need them! According to the commander in chief, it gives them "that extra feeling of d=satisfaction" when they get more than they'll ever need.
Again, nobody has ever seen anything like this in terms of ventilators, in terms of protective equipment and uniforms and outfits. But it makes it more difficult for distributors to prioritize the real need, and it could intentionally and, you know—look, they everybody has proper intentions but they want to make sure they’re 100 percent. And sometimes, when they know they don’t need it, they want it anyway. It gives them that extra feeling of satisfaction, but we just can’t do that. It’s not even possible to think about it.
The commander was attributing conduct to unnamed governors which was virtually sociopathic. Comically, he soon recited another monologue.
In this second performance, the governors ask the commander in chief for far less than they actually need. If people weren't losing their lives every day, this would simply be humorous:
TRUMP: A lot of times—and we have to stop playing this game—if a governor wants 200 ventilators, and I say, “No, we’re going to send you a thousand. We think you need more than 200.”According to this emerging monologue, when some governors ask for 200 ventilators, the commander will send them a thousand! The commander had now defined his two major problems:
And then the media meets with the governor and they say, “Oh, you got more." "Well, it’s not enough. The president should have sent more.”
So he’s asking for 200. We give him a thousand. They say, “How’s the president doing?” “He should have given more.” Because that’s politics. That’s politics. And that’s unfortunate, because we can’t play that game.
In order to most effectively target the distribution of supplies, we’ve been asking states to provide us with daily updates on the number of ventilators and their utilization rates, because some states have more ventilators than they need. They don’t even like to admit it. They’ll admit it when everything is over, but that’s—it doesn’t help us very much.
1) The governors who ask for way too little.Even in this second storyline, the governors continue to behave in a deeply dishonest way, dishonestly badmouthing Trump to the press. Meanwhile, please note:
2) The governors who ask for too much.
A third storyline emerges in the excerpt posted above. According to this third recitation, some governors already have too many ventilators, but they refuse to admit it. Eventually, these governors will admit that they had too many, but only when the plague is over, when it will be too late.
As presented by Donald J. Trump, this third set of governors seem a bit "socio" too.
Some governors ask for way too much, some for way too little! Watching the matinee performance, we were struck by the sheer stupidity of those two conjoined tales.
That said, we were also struck by another symptom of psychiatric disorder. We refer to the relentless way the commander in chief slimed and savaged all comers over the course of almost two hours.
Yesterday, we showed you what he said about Captain Brett Crozier, who didn't make the decision to stop in Vietnam with the USS Roosevelt. Above, we've shown you the way he attributed behaviors to three sets of unnamed governs who seemed to be virtually sociopathic, given the circumstances.
That said, these were just a few of the attacks which littered Saturday's televised performance. The commander started in early on the press as a whole, delivering this appraisal:
TRUMP: Every decision that we’re making is made to save lives. It’s really our sole consideration. We want to save lives. We want as few lives lost as possible. It’s therefore critical that certain media outlets stop spreading false rumors and creating fear and even panic with the public. It’s just incredible. I could name them, but it’s the same ones. Always the same ones. I guess they’re looking for ratings. I don’t know what they’re looking for. So bad for our country and so bad—the people understand it. You look at the levels and approval ratings, and they’re the lowest they’ve ever been for media. It’s so bad for—for our country. So bad for the world. You ought to put it together for a little while, get this over with, and then go back to your fake news.Just as he didn't name any governors, he didn't name any news orgs at this point. That said, their behavior tilted toward sociopathic. And then, there were the individual reporters Trump would later attack.
He attacked the Wall Street Journal's Catherine Lucey when she asked about the problems which seemed to be occurring within the new SBA loan program.
These problems had been widely reported. But Trump insisted they didn't exist, that the program had been "flawless so far."
AS he made this improbable claim, Trump said these things to Lucey:
"This is typical with you in particular...You should say, 'I hear you’re doing well, but maybe—'...Here something is working so well and you ask a question in such a negative way...It’s doing great. You know it and so does everyone else. Everyone is shocked how well it’s doing."
Lucey was being dishonest too, according to the commander. But then, once again for comic relief, consider what happened when the commander attacked CNN's Jeremy Diamond.
The blinding stupidity was back on display as Trump attacked Diamond for asking about the possibility that, in the end, we'll end up with a "shortage of ventilators."
"Always a nasty question from CNN," the commander initially fumed. When Diamond restated his question, the commander delivered a long soliloquy on the brilliance of his own performance and the dishonesty of the governors who ask for way too much.
Diamond had asked the exact same question a second time. Speaking to the same reporter about the same question, the disordered commander now ended his diatribe by saying this:
"It’s a very fair question. I understand that question very well."
Just like that, Diamond's question had gone from "nasty" to "very fair." Cable networks continues to give several hours of free time per day to this vastly disordered man.
Trump's flip-flop with Diamond provided some comic relief. No such relief could be found in the commander's savage attacks on a string of other players.
Inspector General Atkinson? He was "a disgrace to IGs...He's a total disgrace."
The unnamed whisteblower from the Ukraine matter? "He’s a fake whistleblower. And, frankly, somebody ought to sue his ass off."
Captain Crozier? He was mocked for conducting "a class of literature." He was falsely accused of making the decision to stop in Vietnam.
Joe Biden? If Biden was watching the matinee, "he doesn’t understand what he’s watching."
Governor Cuomo? At two separate points, the commander ran through his grossly misleading monologue about the way Cuomo could have purchased 16,000 ventilators for a very good price a few years ago.
"I'm not blaming anyone," the commander absurdly said.
The attacks went on and on, a phenomenon which has only increased at these televised sessions in the past two days. Vicious attacks on all comers may signal a type of psychiatric disorder. More striking, perhaps, was the lack of empathy the commander displayed during Saturday's matinee session.
We refer to a new monologue, one he debuted at this session. By Sunday, he'd amped his performance up. On Saturday, he said this:
REPORTER: Is there anything you want people to do to show their support, especially...to show their support for the medical community? Is there something that— We’ve seen people clapping when nurses leave. I’ve seen people make—"They don’t even know what’s going to happen?" Let's translate for the commander:
TRUMP: Well, we’ve seen a lot of that. You might say something there. I have seen such support. I saw this morning where everyone—they’re clapping for fire department, they’re clapping for police. But they are really going—these people are—
REPORTERS: What should people do?
TRUMP: You know what they’re like? They’re like— Tony, they’re like warriors. Mike, they’re like warriors. They were going into Elmhurst Hospital, which has been tragic—right near where I grew up, in Queens—going in. And the people in buildings—there’s—going. I mean, they’re the rock stars. They’re warriors. Nurses, doctors, first responders, what they’re, what they’re going through.
And they don’t even know what’s going to happen. I mean, they go in. And, by the way, even if they have great equipment they’re catching it. You know, great equipment. They have good equipment, they catch it. They catch it with good, with bad. It is evil.
When those nurses and doctors walk into those hospitals, they don't know if they're going to die.
By Sunday, the commander had improved his inspiring tale. By Sunday, he was displayed his lack of empathy in the following manner:
TRUMP (4/5/20): I would ask that all Americans pray for the heroic doctors and nurses, for the truck drivers and grocery store workers, and for everyone fighting this battle. I had mentioned yesterday, where I see the nurses rushing into hospitals, and they’re putting on their outfits, and they’re putting on their masks and goggles, in some cases. They’re rushing into war. They’re rushing into war.By now, the self-serving melodrama had been improved. Trump was describing doctors and nurses putting their equipment on even as they "ran into" their hospitals. He enjoyed a sponge bath of "stolen valor" as he described this scene while making one omission:
And I see people from apartment houses screaming and shouting and singing their praises. It’s an incredible thing. They’re warriors—these doctors and nurses. They’re running into buildings, and they’re literally putting it on as the doors are opening. They’re putting all their stuff and running inside. And they’re running inside to tremendous danger. Tremendous danger.
He didn't mention the fact that many nurses lack the requisite safety equipment because of his own massive bungling. They can't put on full safety equipment because they simply don't have it.
On Friday night, Don Lemon had interviewed a 28-year-old New York City doctor who said she had made out her will and shared her wishes with her family. She had done that because of the danger to which she was being exposed on a daily basis.
Cable news has spilled with reports of the way doctors and nurses have been performing in the absence of safety equipment. On Saturday afternoon, a man who seems to lack all empathy began to steal valor from those people. He seemed unable to grasp what his own words meant, to find the gravity there:
"They don’t even know what’s going to happen?" In fact, they don't know if they're going to die. The commander seemed unable to grasp the reality behind that state of affairs. Instead, he framed a new melodrama, designed to make us feel good, even whilke suggesting it doesn't matter if they lack equipment:
The evil virus will take them out whether they have full equipment or not..
Similarly, Trump auditioned a new storyline at this matinee. In his new storyline, which has since been abandoned, he creepily offered this:
TRUMP: One of the reasons that I keep talking about hydroxychloroquine is that the question that nobody ever asks, and the question that I most hate the answer to, is: “What happens if you do have a ventilator? What are your chances?”The commander was auditioning a new message—ventilators don't work.
And I just hope that hydroxychloroquine wins, coupled with perhaps the Z-Pak, as we call it—dependent totally on your doctors and the doctors there, because you know the answer to that question. If you do have the ventilator, you know the answer to that question. And I hate giving the answer.
So I don’t want to get them there. I don’t want to get them there. There’s a possibility—a possibility—and I say it: What do you have to lose?
I’ll say it again: What do you have to lose? Take it. I really think they should take it. But it’s their choice and it’s their doctor’s choice, or the doctors in the hospital. But hydroxychloroquine—try it, if you’d like.
But when you have a ventilator, don’t ask the answer because I hate it. If you have it, and it’s working beautifully — I don’t like the answer, because it’s not a very high percentage.
So I want to keep them out of ventilators. I want to keep them—if this drug works, it will be not a game changer, because that’s not a nice enough term; it will be wonderful. It’ll be so beautiful. It’ll be a gift from heaven if it works. Because when people go into those ventilators, you know the answers, I know the answers, and I’m glad you don’t write about it.
It's obvious how this message might help him down the line. Apparently, it was rejected as too ghoulish, because the monologue hasn't been repeated in the past two days.
That said, the commander rarely seems to show proper respect for the value of human life. On Saturday, he repeatedly displayed his pique and annoyance with the idea that Cuomo would ask him to help. As we watched that day's performance, it seemed to us that the commander was perhaps providing a bit of a self-diagnosis.
Is it possible that our commander in chief is in fact a "sociopath?" The term is more Hollywood than DSM, but it's connected to real diagnoses—diagnoses of tragic psychiatric disorders which can cause great harm in the world.
Tomorrow, we'll discuss what that fraught term seems to mean. For today, we'll only say that the commander seemed to be showering symptoms all over the place during Saturday's televised performance.
Increasingly, President Trump won't let Dr. Fauci speak. In a somewhat similar way, the upper-end press corps won't let other specialists discuss the blindingly obvious questions we'll ask.
Tomorrow: Symptoms and prevalence