That, in a straight news story on the president's embarrassingly pronounced, weekend mental disintegration, was yesterday's New York Daily News' lede. The paper's full story makes clear that its opening line was not intended to be humorous. Rather, the unfolding story was the uneasiest of straightforward syllogisms in play: That Trump is "bugging out" is the undeniable conclusion to be drawn from a plethora of supporting propositions.
Chief among them: "A senior U.S. official in the current administration [the vice president?] said Trump was shooting from the hip with his [overtly paranoid, Obama-bashing] tweets, and never consulted with any current officials who might confirm or deny his charge." Hence even White House insiders are troubled by the president's ineffable recklessness. What's more, bipartisan anguish now reigns not only over Trump's familiar absence of human decency, but his swelling abundance of mental instability. Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff, of the House Intelligence Committee, sighed that "No matter how much we hope and pray that this President will grow … or demonstrate even the most basic regard for the truth, we must now accept that President Trump will never become that man." Republican Lindsey Graham added that "I'm very worried that our President is suggesting that the former President's done something illegally." "Worried" — a polite acknowledgment of personal terror over a bunker mentality gone superfluously mad.
What the Daily News diagnoses as "bugging out," the NY Times calls "remarkable." Trump's "accusations against his predecessor of politically motivated wiretapping — without offering any proof — was remarkable, even for a leader who has repeatedly shown himself willing to make assertions that are false or based on dubious sources." "Remarkable" is also a psychiatric term for a chartable abnormality.
Speaking of abnormalities, the president seems to have relied on two others, as acute impetus for his: Breitbart "news" and the perpetually demented radio talker, Mark Levin, the former of which merely followed up on the latter's calculated paranoia. As the Washington Post reports, Levin had "alleged the Obama administration received approval from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court in October to monitor Trump Tower communications." In a deliciously logical twist, former governor Howard Dean observed that Levin's allegation would mean that a federal judge "found probable cause that Trump was engaging in criminal activity and issued a warrant for a wire tap."
While Trump exhibits "bugging out" psychosis, his White House alternatively engages, more so, in the mundanity of incompetence. Initially, one WH official "said that Donald F. McGahn II, the president's chief counsel, was working to secure access to what Mr. McGahn believed to be an order issued by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court authorizing some form of surveillance related to Mr. Trump and his associates." Oops. That would mean the WH was interfering in the Justice Department's "traditional independence on law enforcement matters." Such an egregious "breach" of propriety, the WH official was utterly unaware of. Having recognized that the WH's defense of Trump's chief counsel was but an indictment of WH operations, another official rushed to clarify that the administration's "earlier statements about [McGahn's] efforts had been," ahem, "overstated." This sort of blundering is amateur hour extending into weeks and months.
Still, WH incompetence is rather dismissible when one reflects on the far more alarming perceptibility that the man at the top of it all is, discernibly, bughouse nuts. Only the sane recognize their occasional, creeping impulses of insanity, and thus restrain them. Trump makes no such attempts at restraint — for he simply cannot distinguish normality from madness.