News & Politics

Is Trump Crazy, or Just a Jerk?

President Donald Trump reacts to the song as he arrives at a rally at the Phoenix Convention Center, Tuesday, Aug. 22, 2017, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

All around the world in 2018, people of all races, creeds, and gender identities are asking one burning question: Is President Donald Trump crazy or what?

Is he out of his ever-lovin’ mind? He’s gotta be insane in the membrane, right? Loco in the coconut? A few floors short of a tower?

For some, the answer is a resounding “No.” Trump is crazy like a fox, his biggest fans will tell you. Everything he does is part of his master plan. He keeps owning the libs by telling them how great he is and how stupid his haters are, and in response, those liars in the fake news media keep making fools of themselves as they try to prove him wrong. He loves to tweak the elites, the ones who think of themselves as our moral, ethical, and intellectual betters. They were shattered by Hillary Clinton’s loss, and they’ll grasp at any straw they think will hurt the guy who beat her.

So Trump just keeps throwing out straws. For example, early Saturday morning he tweeted the following in reaction to Michael Wolff’s new book, Fire and Fury (all capitalization and punctuation in the original):

Now that Russian collusion, after one year of intense study, has proven to be a total hoax on the American public, the Democrats and their lapdogs, the Fake News Mainstream Media, are taking out the old Ronald Reagan playbook and screaming mental stability and intelligence. Actually, throughout my life, my two greatest assets have been mental stability and being, like, really smart. Crooked Hillary Clinton also played these cards very hard and, as everyone knows, went down in flames. I went from VERY successful businessman, to top T.V. Star to President of the United States (on my first try). I think that would qualify as not smart, but genius… and a very stable genius at that!

Trump baits the trap, everybody with a journalism degree leaps into it headfirst, and the citizens of MAGA Land cheer at the exasperation and misery of their hated foes. Anything that makes the bad guys unhappy is good. Spite and schadenfreude rule the day. As one of the 20th century’s most influential political thinkers once wrote: “A good tactic is one your people enjoy.”

Then there are those who find this appallingly undignified. If you believe that the president of the United States is a man* whose job is to solve all your problems, to be America’s Dad**, this is terrifying. You’re mortified, just as all children are mortified by their embarrassing parents. Trump isn’t behaving the way other presidents have behaved, he isn’t behaving the way you would behave if you were in the Oval Office, so he must be nuts.

Then there’s Door Number 3: Trump isn’t crazy, he’s just a jerk. Jerks say a lot of crazy things, because they’re jerks. They call people rude names, and say things that are provably untrue, and complain about anything and everything that bruises their egos. They do these things not because they’re out of touch with reality, but because they just don’t care about it. Reality is boring. Who needs it?

Trump’s behavior is beneath the dignity of the office, but maybe that’s not such a bad thing. Maybe the office shouldn’t have been so dignified for all these centuries. Maybe we’ve exalted the presidency too highly. Maybe this Trump/media knife-fight is a good thing, in the long run.

Maybe!

Trump proves that winning an election doesn’t make anybody a better person, and the media’s reaction proves that losing an election doesn’t erase our memory of how they behaved when they were the ones in power. As the two sides try to destroy each other, they remind the rest of us just how small and flawed they really are.

I’m not a fan of either tribe in this war. They both need to be taken down a peg or two or 200. Let them fight.

None of it will matter anyway, once this reality-TV nightmare is replaced by The President Oprah Show.

(And if anything I’ve just said made you angry, please consider this: If Barack Obama had ever come right out and said, “I’m a very stable genius,” I would’ve mocked the hell out of him. I would’ve marveled at his narcissistic delusions, and listed all the empirical evidence proving him wrong. Now it’s supposed to be different because the Republicans have their own version of Obama? Nope. Sorry I’m not more sorry, folks.)

*Or, one day, a woman.
**Or, one day, America’s Mom.