In a blunt-talking column for The Atlantic, a former White House official who served under President George W. Bush claims that Donald Trump is mentally unraveling at an accelerated pace due to the combined pressure of the coronavirus pandemic and the possibility it may cause him to lose his re-election bid in November.
According to Peter Wehner, who served as the head of the White House Office of Strategic Initiatives under Bush, the president has gone far beyond the way that he has been parodied on television.
"In case there was any doubt, the past dozen days have proved we’re at the point in his presidency where Donald Trump has become his own caricature, a figure impossible to parody, a man whose words and actions are indistinguishable from an Alec Baldwin skit on Saturday Night Live," Wehner wrote. "President Trump’s pièce de résistance came during a late April coronavirus task-force briefing, when he floated using 'just very powerful light' inside the body as a potential treatment for COVID-19 and then, for good measure, contemplated injecting disinfectant as a way to combat the effects of the virus 'because you see it gets in the lungs and does a tremendous number on them, so it’d be interesting to check that.'"
Noting that Trump launched an attack over the weekend on former President Bush for the crime of releasing a video calling for all Americans to pull together during the pandemic that has claimed the lives of almost 70,000 Americans, Wehner marveled at how increasingly tone-deaf the preside t has become.
"Think about that for a minute. George W. Bush made a moving, eloquent plea for empathy and national unity, which enraged Donald Trump enough that he felt the need to go on the attack," he wrote before pointing out four other examples of the president acting outrageously.
"I could have picked a dozen other examples over the past 10 days, but these five will suffice," he explained. "They illustrate some of the essential traits of Donald Trump: the shocking ignorance, ineptitude, and misinformation; his constant need to divide Americans and attack those who are trying to promote social solidarity; his narcissism, deep insecurity, utter lack of empathy, and desperate need to be loved; his feelings of victimization and grievance; his affinity for ruthless leaders; and his fondness for conspiracy theories."
"We are witnessing the steady, uninterrupted intellectual and psychological decomposition of an American president. It’s something the Trump White House cannot hide—indeed, it doesn’t even try to hide it anymore. There is not even the slightest hint of normalcy," he continued.
Worse, he noted, is that people who know better are standing by and watching the president go off the rails.
"Watching formerly serious individuals on the right, including the Christian right, become Trump courtiers has been a painful and dispiriting thing for many of us to witness. In the process, they have reconfigured their own character, intellect, and moral sensibilities to align with the disordered mind and deformed ethical world of Donald Trump," he lamented. "And we will see, as we have for the entire Trump presidency, the national Republican Party fall in line. Many are speaking out in defense of Trump while other timid souls who know better have gone sotto voce out of fear and cowardice that they have justified to themselves, and tried less successfully to justify to others."
"What this means is that Americans are facing not just a conventional presidential election in 2020 but also, and most important, a referendum on reality and epistemology," he wrote before warning, "Donald Trump is asking us to enter even further into his house of mirrors. He is asking us to live within a lie, to live within his lie, for four more years. The duty of citizenship in America today is to refuse to live within that lie."
You can read the whole piece here.