Donald Trump seems to be having difficulty keeping his thought processes aligned. Previously, it seemed that for most of his statements the default mode was simply to lie, regardless of the outcome. I used to believe that this was intentional, a strategy used to gaslight the American public. So many in his White House inner circle repeatedly and mercilessly lie (until they go too far and make idiotic statements about Hitler).
But for the Donald, I’m starting to wonder. Given the monumental flip-flops we’ve just seen on major policy issues in the past two weeks—including 180–degree reversals on about six things in a single day—it seems the president may be having trouble keeping his own ideas straight in his mind.
Take, for example, a gaffe last Wednesday, in which he forgot which Middle Eastern country the U.S. had bombed and had to be reminded by a Fox Business anchor.
On one hand, Trump seems to have an instinctual reaction to say the first thing that pops into his head, truth be damned. On the other, there’s a realization that people around him are telling him he’s wrong on so many of the things he claimed he would do as president. This seems to be confusing him.
I first noticed the pattern during his White House press conference with King Abdullah of Jordan on April 5. Trump has been using the phrase “radical Islamic terrorism” publicly since at least 2015, when he criticized former President Barack Obama for refusing to use the loaded words.
He’s been praised on Fox News for doing so. But following that meeting with King Abdullah, the phrase disappeared from his statements, replaced with a softer message on “evil.” You could sense the uncomfortable pause as the internal battle in his brain unfolded.
This type of internal cognitive struggle also is playing out on Twitter. On Sunday, the president posted a series of tweets that really have no logical consistency, like a spider spinning a web while hyped up on caffeine.
After thousands of people protested across the nation on Saturday calling on Trump to release his tax returns—and Trump clearly knew about them since his presidential motorcade took an alternate route to Mar-a-Lago in order to avoid them—the president responded by doing what he can’t stop doing: talking about the elections. Again.
And in the very next tweet, he ridiculed the size of the Tax March protests by claiming they were funded by an unnamed (read: Democratic) enemy. Then he deflected with a classic Trump non sequitur—hey, the election is over! Huh?!
Yes, the election is over. Please stop talking about it and just release your taxes.
In an earlier tweet also on Sunday, the president brushed aside one of those flip-flop moments I was talking about with another contradictory statement:
Oh, I don’t know, maybe it’s because…
Somebody needs to get this guy on message soon and keep him there. While you’re at it, please limit his Twitter use to statements on the Easter Bunny.