There is no universe where the President approving of comparisons of himself to the Messiah is not strange and disturbing.
The problem, of course, is that presidents in free market economies don’t have anything resembling the power to “hereby order” American companies to do his bidding. Even the arcane phrasing is monarchical bordering on delusional. But that has been a theme of his grandiose visions — President Trump seems to see himself as invested with the powers of a king, constrained only by the generosity of his will. Which is why he rails against any individual or institution who attempts to hold him accountable.
Isolate any of these comments and they read like they are ripped from the pages of a dark Christopher Buckley satire about an extremely unwell president. But taken together they demand a bit more scrutiny from a citizenry that is becoming accustomed to treating this President as a reality show star.
His supporters in Congress and the partisan press will be held accountable for this in the future. They will have to own it. Deflecting to Democrats’ problems or meme-ing their way to sleepy-eyed cynicism is not remotely sufficient. Their alleged conservative values are being violated every day. And, for many, their sense of responsibility will be heavier in the future because they know the truth about the President’s erratic behavior but are afraid to say it out loud.
While it is impossible to imagine any past president offering up the delusional statements that Trump uttered Wednesday on the White House lawn, it is easy to imagine Fox News devoting days — if not weeks — of hyperventilating coverage if President Barack Obama had pronounced himself “the chosen one” or joked about awarding himself the Medal of Honor. Instead, we heard crickets. The evangelical community is likewise silent about statements that could easily be seen as sacrilegious.
But it is to say that we should not be lulled into a false sense of normalcy by the spectacle of this President. As Tom Friedman said to Anderson Cooper on Wednesday, this is behavior that would have any CEO removed by their board of directors.
This is not a reality show — it is our country. While we are becoming a laughingstock in the eyes of the world, we run the risk of amusing ourselves to death in the process.
This commentary has been updated to include the President’s remarks on Friday.
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