President Donald Trump speaks before signing an executive order establishing regulatory reform officers and task forces in US agencies in Washington, DC on February 24, 2017.
Olivier Douliery - Pool/Getty Images

Trump wants to talk about who’s ‘lost their grip on reality’

Updated
Donald Trump has used his Twitter account quite a bit less this week, but the president hasn’t yet retired his favorite online medium. This morning, for example, Trump said he considers it “pathetic” that Senate Democrats “have still not approved my full Cabinet.”

The Rachel Maddow Show, 2/23/17, 9:00 PM ET

Maddow: Is the Trump administration stupid or nefarious?

Rachel Maddow reviews a litany of mistakes and infractions committed in the opening month of the Trump administration and wonders if they’re a sign of malice or just incompetence.
Rachel Maddow reviews a litany of mistakes and infractions committed in the opening month of the Trump administration and wonders if they’re a sign of malice or just incompetence.
That doesn’t make any sense. It’s not really up to Democrats to confirm his nominees – they’re in the minority; they can’t filibuster nominees; and they have limited control over the Senate’s calendar – and as of yesterday, literally all of Trump’s cabinet choices who are eligible for a vote have already been approved.

In other words, the president woke up, turned to Twitter, and started whining about concerns that were wholly detached from reality. I can appreciate the challenges of keeping up with day-to-day events, but Trump should probably have some basic understanding of the status of his cabinet – and yet, here we are.

All of this came to mind when the president also decided to stick up for his embattled attorney general, who made claims – while under oath – that weren’t true about his contacts with Russian officials. Trump said:
“Jeff Sessions is an honest man. He did not say anything wrong. He could have stated his response more accurately, but it was clearly not intentional. This whole narrative is a way of saving face for Democrats losing an election that everyone thought they were supposed to win. The Democrats are overplaying their hand. They lost the election and now, they have lost their grip on reality. The real story is all of the illegal leaks of classified and other information. It is a total witch hunt!”
Note, he almost completed the whole thought without an exclamation point. Almost.

There are, of course, quite a few problems with the Republican’s pushback. Trump’s obsession with the 2016 election results, for example, aren’t related to Jeff Sessions getting caught lying.

But what stood out for me is the president’s belief that Democrats have “lost their grip on reality.”

Not to put too fine a point on this, but if there’s anyone on the planet who should avoid complaining about others losing their grip on reality, it’s Donald J. Trump. By all appearances, the man routinely finds himself living in an alternate reality, filled with strange ideas and conspiracies that only the president can see.

I have an ongoing debate with a friend of mine who insists no one should ever accuse Trump of lying because that assumes he has the capacity to tell the difference between fact and fiction. The one thing my friend and I can agree on, however, is that the president’s propensity for saying things that aren’t true is practically limitless.

As the New York Times’ Paul Krugman noted today, “No president, or for that matter major U.S. political figure of any kind, has ever lied as freely and frequently as Donald Trump…. It’s important not to indulge in an easy cynicism, to say that politicians have always lied and always will. What we’re getting from Mr. Trump is simply on a different plane from anything we’ve seen before.”

This, in turn, has led to a fair amount of speculation about the president’s mental health. The New York Times’ David Brooks recently said Trump’s “mental state is like a train that long ago left freewheeling and iconoclastic, has raced through indulgent, chaotic and unnerving, and is now careening past unhinged, unmoored and unglued.” The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank added, “My worry is the president of the United States is barking mad.”

New York’s Andrew Sullivan put it this way:
[T]here is the obvious question of the president’s mental and psychological health. I know we’re not supposed to bring this up – but it is staring us brutally in the face. I keep asking myself this simple question: If you came across someone in your everyday life who repeatedly said fantastically and demonstrably untrue things, what would you think of him? If you showed up at a neighbor’s, say, and your host showed you his newly painted living room, which was a deep blue, and then insisted repeatedly – manically – that it was a lovely shade of scarlet, what would your reaction be? If he then dragged out a member of his family and insisted she repeat this obvious untruth in front of you, how would you respond? If the next time you dropped by, he was still raving about his gorgeous new red walls, what would you think?

Here’s what I’d think: This man is off his rocker. He’s deranged; he’s bizarrely living in an alternative universe; he’s delusional. If he kept this up, at some point you’d excuse yourself and edge slowly out of the room and the house and never return. You’d warn your other neighbors. You’d keep your distance. If you saw him, you’d be polite but keep your distance.
We can certainly have a discussion about which members of the political world have “lost their grip on reality,” but Trump may not like where the conversation ends up.