Trump Assumes That Our Attention Span Is as Short as His

He never provides evidence for his repeated false accusations.

It is important to keep in mind that Trump’s tweets about Obama wiretapping him came on the heels of the revelation that Attorney General Jeff Sessions had lied during his confirmation hearing about having contact with the Russian ambassador while he was part of the campaign team. It was part of the pattern of his personality disorder in which he lies and points the finger of blame whenever the fantasy of his success and dominance are challenged.

In the two weeks since he sent those tweets, both the media and members of Congress have gone on a fishing expedition to investigate his claims. It’s clear he was lying. But during an interview last night with Tucker Carlson, Trump indicated that he wants to move on.

I have been seeing a lot of things — now, for the most part, for the most part I’m not going to discuss it because we have it before the committee, and we will be submitting things before the committee very soon that have not been submitted as of yet. But, it’s potentially a very serious situation…

I think you are going to find some very interesting items coming to the forefront over the next two weeks.

For Donald Trump to admit that he was wrong or that he lied would signal weakness. It would dispel his own fantasy of success and dominance. So instead of acknowledging the obvious, he promises to produce (non-existent) evidence that he was right. It will all come to light sometime in the future.

He did this repeatedly during the campaign when issues arose about Melania’s immigration status and his taxes — suggesting that they would release the information shortly. It never came.

Throughout Trump’s birther claims prior to the 2012 election, he went so far as to suggest that he had dispatched investigators to Hawaii who would report on their findings. That never happened. And we’ve still heard no word about the formation of a commission headed up by Mike Pence to prove the president’s lies about voter fraud.

All of this reminds me of what Tony Schwartz, ghostwriter for “The Art of the Deal,” said about Trump last summer.

“Trump has been written about a thousand ways from Sunday, but this fundamental aspect of who he is doesn’t seem to be fully understood,” Schwartz told me. “It’s implicit in a lot of what people write, but it’s never explicit—or, at least, I haven’t seen it. And that is that it’s impossible to keep him focussed on any topic, other than his own self-aggrandizement, for more than a few minutes, and even then . . . ” Schwartz trailed off, shaking his head in amazement. He regards Trump’s inability to concentrate as alarming in a Presidential candidate. “If he had to be briefed on a crisis in the Situation Room, it’s impossible to imagine him paying attention over a long period of time,” he said.

Clinicians might want to look into whether or not this indicates a bipolar and/or attention deficit disorder — both of which can actually be managed with medication. Of course that would require the president to acknowledge that it is a problem. Instead, Trump’s pattern is to pretend that evidence to support his lies is forthcoming and assume that our collective attention span is as short as his when it fails to materialize.

You won’t see me write these words very often, but when it comes to Trump’s assumption about us, he’s right. We do have very short attention spans. That is precisely why it is important to recognize these patterns. When the president suggests that evidence is forthcoming, we know that he is lying about his lies.

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly.