What ‘Winning’ Looks Like to a Delusional President

Last week I noted that Brendan Nyhan did a good job of summarizing an emerging pattern we’re seeing from Trump:

  1. Present distorted version of status quo.
  2. Creat crisis over distorted version of status quo.
  3. Restore status quo (often at substantial cost).
  4. Take credit for status quo.

I was reminded of that when I saw this bizarre tweet from the president:

That was in response to a statement from U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw, who had given the administration a timeline to reunite migrant families that had been separated as a result of their zero tolerance policy. Here’s the report on that statement from the Associated Press:

U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw said the government gets “great credit” after reunifying more than 1,800 children 5 and over with parents or sponsors by Thursday’s court-imposed deadline.

He pointed out that many of the families were reunited while in custody then turned his attention to 431 children whose parents have been deported.

“The government is at fault for losing several hundred parents in the process and that’s where we go next,” the judge said…

In late June, the judge gave the government 14 days to reunify children under 5 and 30 days to reunite children 5 and older with their families.

Sabraw said the “problem” could not be repeated, describing how Homeland Security, Health and Human Services and Justice departments didn’t have a system to keep track of the families that were separated when the administration introduced a “zero tolerance” policy toward illegal entry.

“Each (department) was like its own stovepipe, each had its own boss, and they did not communicate,” he said. “What was lost in the process was the family.”

That brings Trump’s pattern into clearer focus. On immigration policy, he hasn’t simply distorted the status quo. He and his administration have lied shamelessly in an attempt to claim there is a crisis. Then they implemented a cruel and inhumane policy in response to the conjured up crisis. That led a judge to lay down the law and give them a timeline to rectify the situation, which they didn’t meet—primarily due to unconscionable incompetence. The judge gave them credit for the progress they’d made, but reminded them that they have a lot of work to do in order to finish the process of rectifying the situation.

In the midst of all that, Trump wants his Twitter followers to think that he was praised by a federal judge and that his predecessors (who never separated families in the first place) didn’t perform as well as he has.

I suspect that as Trump spends more time in office, we’ll see this pattern pretty regularly as a way for him to pretend that he’s “winning.” For example, today we learned what many of us have expected all along: Kim Jong-un has been playing Trump for a fool while constructing new missiles. If anyone thinks the president will ever admit that he was wrong when he claimed to have “solved” the situation with North Korea, they haven’t been paying attention. His delusional mind will come up with some way to pretend like he’s “winning” that one too.

Frankly, this kind of thing leaves us with one of two options when evaluating the president:

  1. He is either certifiably insane and doesn’t recognize reality, or
  2. He is a pathological liar who twists reality beyond recognition.

It really doesn’t matter which one is more true. Either way, Donald Trump is fundamentally unfit for the office he holds.

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly.