Is Trump Getting Worse, or Has He Always Been This Delusional?

Since the early days of the Trump presidency, I have been suggesting that one of his most consistent patterns is to lie, distract and blame when he feels challenged. But Steve Benen picked up on an attack he has launched against Barack Obama that seems totally disconnected from any particular threat. Here’s how it has progressed over the last couple of weeks:

  1. Two weeks ago, in reference to his upcoming trip to Asia, Trump said, “You remember the Philippines – the last trip made by a president, that turned out to be not so good. Never quite got to land.”
  2. Over the weekend, he talked to reporters about Obama’s “rough trip” to the Philippines.
  3. Yesterday at a press gaggle, he elaborated:

“…I mean, the Philippines, we just could not have been treated nicer. And as you know, we were having a lot of problems with the Philippines. The relationship with the past administration was horrible, to use a nice word. I would say ‘horrible’ is putting it mildly. You know what happened. Many of you were there, and you never got to land. The plane came close but it didn’t land.”

Benen summarizes:

Apparently, Trump has convinced himself that Barack Obama, aboard Air Force One, intended to travel to the Philippines, but en route to the country, the American president was not permitted to touch down on Filipino soil.

It is not news to anyone that the relationship between Barack Obama and President Rodrigo Duterte was strained—for good reason. Last year Obama cancelled a meeting (not the other way around) with the Philippine president in Laos. Aaron Blake explains why.

Obama had some pretty good reasons for not meeting with Duterte. Chief among them is that police in the Philippines, with Duterte’s apparent blessing, have killed thousands of people without due process during Duterte’s drug war. After Obama criticized those killings, Duterte called him a “son of a whore.” That’s what led to Obama canceling a planned meeting with Duterte at the ASEAN conference in Laos. Obama said it wasn’t personal, but his State Department said that it didn’t think such insults were conducive to constructive dialogue.

Obama did, however, travel to Laos as planned to meet with other leaders. Air Force One landed without incident. The idea that the president’s plane was not allowed to land in the Philippines is a complete fantasy.

We’ve seen a lot of behavior from this president that makes people question his mental health. While some of that is related to his pattern of responding to attacks with attempts to lie, distract and blame, at least it is possible to discern his motives and place them in the context of lashing out in rage. But other than the usual need to prop himself up as superior to his predecessor, this one seems even more disturbing because it is a delusion coming out of the blue.

Unless I’ve missed something, this is not a story that has been traveling around right wing news sites (correct me if I’m wrong). So rather than reacting to something he saw on Fox and Friends or Sean Hannity’s show, the president seems to have constructed this lie out of whole cloth in his own mind.

I know the case has already been made that Trump is unfit for office due to his mental health issues. But this one takes things to an even deeper level. He appears to be absolutely delusional about something this mundane—which is a serious liability in a POTUS.

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly.