There was a point early last year in which Donald Trump’s behavior was so erratic, a reporter felt compelled to ask White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders during an official briefing whether Americans should be “concerned about the president’s mental fitness.” She initially responded by trying to change the subject.
Trump responded soon after by publishing a series of tweets in which the Republican described himself as “like, really smart.” He added that he’s “a very stable genius.”
Yesterday, during an event ostensibly about agriculture and trade, the president upgraded his self-assessment: he’s not just a “very stable genius”; he’s now an “extremely stable genius.” Trump then proceeded to prove the opposite.
Sometimes even the president of the United States needs somebody to vouch for him.
No, Trump insisted Thursday, he did not have a temper tantrum a day earlier when he cut off a White House meeting with congressional Democrats after just three minutes.
To prove it – in the middle of a meeting with farmers – he called on five members of his staff to bear witness to his demeanor.
One by one, his advisers dutifully stepped forward to testify, saying Trump had been “very calm,” albeit “direct,” in his meeting with the Democrats.
It was as bizarre as it sounds. The president began yesterday tweeting about his “extremely calm” demeanor during a meeting a day earlier in which he refused to discuss his own infrastructure plan with lawmakers. Hours later, Trump interrupted his own event on agriculture and trade to brag about his even-keeled temperament.
Soon after, he sought public testimonials from five members of his team, each of whom was asked to attest to how “calm” the president was while blowing up infrastructure talks. The unnerving display lasted for more than seven minutes.
I won’t pretend to be a Shakespearean scholar, but the phrase “doth protest too much” keeps coming to mind.
There is no precedent for an American president pushing members of his team to tell the press how great his temperament is. The Republican ended up proving the opposite of his intended point.
Indeed, this is probably the sort of point Trump would struggle to understand, but those who are both stable and geniuses don’t behave the way he behaved yesterday.