As the right wing ramps up their conspiracy theory about the how “deep state,” under the direction of Obama, is at war with the current president, it is interesting to note that some of them are going back to the gold standard Trump used to launch his presidential ambitions: birtherism. In case you don’t want to click on that link, I’ll tell you that it is a story about the supposed release of Obama’s Kenyan birth certificate yesterday.
That is a good reminder that this president lies to get what he wants. He has done so constantly from day one. What happens is that when he lies, there is a firestorm of a reaction where we all focus on the lie until the media gets bored with it and we move on – or until Trump tells another whopper and the cycle starts all over again. Unless we connect the dots, the lies become episodic rather than indicative of a pattern.
For example, today I’m thinking about the lie the president told in his first few days in office about how 3-4 million people voted illegally. As he was challenged about that, Trump promised to put together a commission to study the issue. He even said that VP Pence would be in charge of the investigation. When is that last time you heard about that actually happening? It’s been weeks and most everyone has forgotten about it.
In many ways that mirrors the whole birtherism episode with Trump. He suggested that there were questions about Obama’s citizenship, threw the claims out at every opportunity, said he had sent investigators to Hawaii, the media ate it up, and when the lie was no longer useful to him, he discarded it – blaming the whole thing on Hillary Clinton. We were supposed to forget that he ever made such a big deal about it.
We’re now in the midst of a media firestorm about whether or not Obama wiretapped Trump during the election. One difference between the birther lie and the ones about voter fraud and wire tapping is that the first was meant to put him in the spotlight and the latter two were meant to get him out of a jam. In other words, he has shifted to lies that are designed to deny a reality he can’t absorb (i.e., he lost the popular vote and his ties to Russia being exposed).
The way in which Trump’s latest whopper plays out might continue to unfold. If evidence of lies and collusion with the Russian government continue to come to light, it is very likely that he will move from saying that Obama ordered a wire tap to the current conspiracy theory rumbling around on the right about how the entire scandal was a false flag operation by the CIA – blaming them for the whole thing just like he blamed Clinton for birtherism and “illegals” for voter fraud. All he’ll need is a tweet or two in that direction and the right wing will explode with the story via the Breitbartization of the news. That would keep the entire media establishment in a frenzy for weeks – not to mention what it would do to our foreign policy apparatus.
While it’s hard to predict how all of this ends, what I’m describing here is the way in which Donald Trump exhibits behaviors associated with a severe personality disorder. He fabricates a world in which he is both dominant and successful. When challenged, he diverts with outrageous lies designed to blame a villain and distract us from his failures. He then assumes we’ll all move on to the next fabrication of his dominance and success.
The one thing we can be certain of is that nowhere in that pattern is there a place for reflection on reality or a feedback loop for self-correction. While his handlers might be able to subdue his tendencies temporarily, there will be no “pivot” because that would require admitting to the dysfunction and an examination of the pattern.
The only way to avoid escalation is to remove him from office and contain the repercussions to Trump and his loved ones. Otherwise, we’ll all pay the price.