Trump Has No Reality Contact

Were he anything other than president of the United States, one might feel sorry for him. Because he is president of the United States and went to great lengths to secure that position, he is nothing but a blight on the Republic.

The thing one might feel sorry for is the fact that the Donald genuinely does not seem to understand that other people pay attention to what he says, then compare subsequent statements to the previous one and notice discrepancies, or that people expect him actually to do things he has said he would do.

At the moment, perhaps the most famous example of this problem is that Trump promised repeatedly at various points in the past to release his income tax returns, which presidential candidates have made a regular practice of doing at least since Richard Nixon to let the public know their financial situation.

As the Daily News put it, when protests erupted around the country on tax day calling for Trump to releases his tax returns, he took to Twitter to whine, claiming to have performed a nearly impossible feat for a Republican in winning the electoral college, then, “Now tax returns are brought up again?” He went on to suggest, without evidence, as always, that someone was paying protesters.

This is not exactly a failure to realize that people pay attention to what he says as it is a more general failure to appreciate that many people, likely most people, do not see the world exactly as he does and that, in the United States, we have no obligation whatsoever to conceal our disagreements with the president or any other public official.

At the broadest level, we can perhaps describe this as a near total lack of reality contact.

A more naked, obvious example was his recent claim that “Our tax bill is moving along in Congress, and I believe it’s doing very well.” There is no tax bill in Congress at all right now. This statement was a complete fabrication.

The Donald has made a number of statements since taking office that are complete fabrications. He has claimed repeatedly, but with zero evidence, that he would have won the popular vote in last year’s election if not for “millions” of illegal voters. He has repeatedly promised that he would form a commission or a committee to investigate this alleged problem of illegal voters, but so far has totally failed to follow through, despite an abortive ceremony for his signing an order creating a commission for that purpose.

Trump has also claimed, again with no evidence, that the Obama administration conducted surveillance of him and his presidential campaign in the period just before the election. This is a special case of Trump’s problem — in this instance, it was a simple matter to ask an authoritative person to confirm or, as it happened, to deny the claim. In testimony before Congress, shortly before the Donald fired him (!), FBI director James Comey stated flatly that he had no evidence of any surveillance of the Trump campaign.

One can respect the reluctance of mental health professionals to diagnose the president with a mental illness in the absence of direct conversation with him, but still ask if his obvious lack of ability to sustain a coherent thought across time and/or lack of reality contact — or perhaps some other problem that they know better than lay people — is not sufficient reason to demand that his cabinet invoke the 25th amendment and relieve him of the powers of the presidency.

This is not a job in which the incumbent should suffer from lack of reality contact.

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