Matt Taibbi's latest report in Rolling Stone is an unnerving read that should give everyone cause for very serious concern about the mental state of the president. While much has been written about Trump's mental health from a decidedly liberal perspective (our own Robert Covington weighed in on this yesterday), Taibbi writes that even diehard Trump supporters are beginning to notice that their man is losing his grip on reality.
Taibbi traveled to Phoenix, Arizona to cover a campaign style rally at the end of last month and saw first hand how unhinged the president has become, and witnessed noticeable bemusement amongst his followers. During a 77 minute maniacal rant that saw Trump try to explain away his atrocious response to Charlottesville, lie about CNN's ratings, brag about the size of his apartment (yes, really), and claim the media at the event wasn't broadcast his speech in order to 'silence' him (they weren't) Taibbi described a notable difference in the tone and style of the rally from his pre-presidential rallies:
Phoenix is different. Trump seems to believe what he's saying. He really thinks that not just CNN, but all of the networks are shutting down their feeds, overwhelmed by the power of his words. "Boy, those cameras are going off," he says, coming back to the subject. "Oh, wow. Why don't you just fold them up and take them home? Oh, those cameras are going off. Wow. That's the one thing, they're very nervous to have me on live television..."
The president of the United States is seeing things. He might as well be shooing imaginary ants off his suit. His followers still love him, but even they're starting to notice. They come for the old standards, but this new Trump material gets mixed reviews.
Outside, a fan gives the speech a half-hearted thumbs up. "I liked 'Lock her up,'" the man says with a shrug. "They did that for a little while."
"[He's saying] 'I don't promote racism, that's just the media trying to fuck with me,'" says Rich Yukon, a biker from a Tempe-based club called the Metalheads. "But he gets a little out of hand here and there, he says some shit."
Apparently Trump was not happy about the event either, and as usual blamed everyone but himself:
After the event, Trump tweets, "Beautiful turnout of 15,000 in Phoenix tonight!" Later, he reportedly fires the organizer of that same "beautiful" event, longtime aide and RNC contractor George Gigicos, apparently for not delivering a terrifyingly massive enough crowd. Sources told Bloomberg that Trump saw open floor space in TV shots before he took the stage, and this put him in a "foul mood" from which he never recovered.
The rest of Taibbi's piece recounts the president's erratic behavior in the weeks following the Phoenix disaster and attempts to figure out whether Trump really is insane by asking highly trained psychologists to offer a clinical diagnose (and all basically agree -- he is dangerously mentally unwell). The diagnosis Taibbi presents is actually so bad that it is enough to elicit a degree of compassion for Trump, who appears to have regressed badly over the past few months in office. This is however, the president America voted for, and the president they deserve. Says Taibbi:
Maybe crimes will soon be discovered and he'll be impeached, or maybe he'll run naked down Pennsylvania Avenue this fall, or nuke someone, and be declared unfit. Until then, he's just the president we deserve, dragging our name down where it belongs. He is miserable, so are we, and we're stuck with each other. Karma really is a bitch.
While Taibbi is decidedly depressed about this, the takeaway that Trump's most ardent supporters are beginning to notice his descent into madness should give some hope for the rest of us. Trump wields power over the GOP because they are less popular than he is. But should his hardcore fans begin to tire of him (and it looks like they are) , the power dynamic could shift and the GOP may find itself in a position to get rid of him before 2020. Trump's polling is already disastrous, and should it get worse, the GOP will have little choice but to act. It's not a lot to go on, especially given Trump's uncanny ability to survive disasters, but things are now so bad we must take what we can get.