Donald Trump’s disastrous reality show: Master trash-talker turned flailing president searches for a new villain


President Donald Trump speaks during a news conference, Thursday, Feb. 16, 2017, in the East Room of the White House in Washington. ()

(Credit: AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

So President Donald Trump is taking his act on the road again. Apparently being president isn’t nearly as much fun as running for president and he needs to cut loose in front of an adoring crowd to charge up his batteries. So he’s having one of his Victory Rallies in Florida on Saturday. And yes, they’re calling it a campaign rally so stock up on the Stoly and Beluga caviar, because that means Trump is already running for re-election.

On Thursday he gave his followers a little teaser by holding his first real press conference since the inauguration. It was what professional presidential scholars refer to as “a doozy.” The press was more pungent in its criticism. CNN’s Jake Tapper called it “unhinged” and “wild” and a “Festivus airing of grievances.” MSNBC’s Chris Hayes tweeted, “we can agree across all ideological, political and partisan divisions that this is a deranged performance, right?” Even Shep Smith of Fox News seemed shell-shocked, saying, “It is crazy what we are watching every day, it is absolutely crazy.” CBS News’ Scott Pelley said, “Today we learned the length of the president’s fuse.” (Which unfortunately brought to mind what my great-aunt used to say about her first husband: “He was a six-foot, three-inch stick of dynamite with a little bitty fuse.”)

That was just the tip of the iceberg. The Daily Beast reported:

[A]s the official White House press conference disintegrated further into unhinged criticism and belligerent sniping, reporters seated in the East Room could hardly contain themselves. There was an awkward mix of laughing with Trump, and chuckling at him as the president kept venting and sneering. The reporters present couldn’t stop quietly gossipping about Trump. “What is going on?” one journalist whispered to another. “This is insane” and “What the hell?” were other popular refrains in the room.

There have been dozens of articles and listicles already published about this inane and surreal event, so I won’t go through the whole litany again. If you’ve got the time, it’s worth watching the whole press conference just to bear witness to the wholesale destruction of what we used to call the dignity of the office. Trump makes George W. Bush look like George Washington by comparison, and Bush was the guy who spit a wad of chewing gum into his hand before signing the Treaty of Moscow.

Trump mostly concentrated on how much he loathed the lyin’ press and despised all the fake news, oddly insisting that it’s nothing more than a coverup for Hillary Clinton’s “terrible loss.” In fact, he just can’t quit her, which presidential historians note is very odd:

Hard to think of another President who kept talking about his defeated opponent one month into his Presidency.

— Michael Beschloss (@BeschlossDC) February 16, 2017

I think there’s a good reason Trump does this and it’s related to why he needs to get in front of his cheering followers. He is obviously in over his head and cannot deal with the complexity of the task he’s been elected to perform. If anyone watching the campaign thought he must have hidden depths they have been disabused of that by now. His full range of talents were on display on stage in those rallies.

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