Yesterday the president held a news conference that was astonishingly bizarre, even in the Trump era. A lot of the reporting on it has been about the confrontation with CNN’s Jim Acosta, leading to a doctored video created by InfoWars and later distributed by the White House to justify their decision to revoke his credentials.
But before all of that took place, I was struck by the fact that Trump’s words and affect were at odds with one another. While he boasted about a big victory for Republicans in the midterms elections, here’s what I tweeted:
Trump looks and sounds like a bipolar person in the midst of a depressive phase.
— Nancy LeTourneau (@Smartypants60) November 7, 2018
That stems from the fact that I’ve always wondered whether the president’s hysteria isn’t indicative of a manic phase associated with bipolar disorder. He might have shorter depressive states that can be obscured from public view.
That is all merely speculation, but I’m not the only one who noticed. Here is what Peter Daou tweeted at the time:
Trump is displaying something very few people have seen: FEAR.
Let's see if the news media recognize it.
— Peter Daou (@peterdaou) November 7, 2018
The object of Trump’s wrath, Jim Acosta, put it this way later during a segment on CNN:
Despite the fact that they were framing this as a victory lap and he was tweeting up a storm like he was all fired up for 2020, he sounded, I thought, very depressed, very despondent, almost defeated in the way he was talking about these election results. I think that’s probably why you saw things spiral out of control. We’re not used to — the President is not used to seeing himself lose and he lost big. He lost the House of Representatives.
Gabriel Sherman got this from a source:
In recent days, according to three sources, Don Jr. has been telling friends he is worried about being indicted as early as this week. One person close to Don Jr. speculated that Mueller could indict him for making false statements to Congress and the F.B.I. about whether he had told his father about the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting with Russians to gather “dirt” on Hillary Clinton. This source had heard that the case could revolve around Trump’s former deputy campaign chairman, Rick Gates, who’s cooperating with Mueller and who was deeply involved in the campaign at the time of the meeting. Trump, this person continued, is “very upset” about the risks Don Jr. faces. “The president is very depressed,” this person said.
What we can assume with some confidence is that Donald Trump is depressed. Whether that is due to being bipolar, a reaction to the midterms or fear that his son could be indicted soon (or a combination of all three), we don’t know.
Of course, none of this matters because the president’s rage, narcissism and delusions will continue to influence what he says and does. But it’s worth noting as a way to understand what happens next.