The Slatest

We Have Entered the “Howard Hughes Storing His Own Urine” Stage of the Trump Presidency

Trump, wearing a suit and a dark coat, walks by himself across a sidewalk against a backdrop of foliage.
Donald Trump outside the Oval Office on Thursday. Drew Angerer/Getty Images

We can’t put all of the president’s Wednesday morning tweets here because it would take too long and probably give your computer a disease, but this is a taste of what he is up to:

That’s one of the 13 messages Donald Trump has posted since 9:47 a.m. ET. Many of them, like the one above, are related to his belief that Hillary Clinton and the Obama administration fabricated evidence that his 2016 campaign had connections to Russia in order to sabotage his presidency. (This theory was most recently debunked by a bipartisan Senate report.)

It is not unusual for Trump to engage in binges of all-caps social media posting about obscure subjects that he has scraped from the sewers of the right-wing internet. (It’s up to you whether you believe the tweeting has become even more manic because of the steroids he’s on or simply because of his dire political position.) What isn’t normal is that there is nothing on the horizon to distract him from doing this indefinitely: There are no public events on his schedule, because he has a serious case of a contagious and potentially fatal disease, and he isn’t meeting with anyone in the White House, because he has a serious case of a contagious and potentially fatal disease. He’s reportedly been insisting that he be allowed into the Oval Office, where he would become a part of this dystopian scene:

From a long-term perspective, it is perhaps “good” that Trump is concluding his reelection campaign by emphasizing things that swing voters either don’t like about him (his personal impulsiveness and thoughtless attitude toward COVID-19) or don’t care about at all (Peter Strzok). From a near-term perspective, though, it is concerning. The seeming deterioration in Trump’s state of mind has already had harmful real-world repercussions, as when he, on Tuesday, suddenly instructed Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin to pull out of what had been relatively fruitful negotiations with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi about passing another badly needed stimulus bill. (A bill that it almost certainly would have helped Trump politically to sign!) Going forward, there is truly no telling what demands he will make of his subordinates—particularly if he loses the Nov. 3 election and is left with 2½ months in which he holds the power of the presidency, has no more incentive at all to act “normal,” and is compulsively watching cable news coverage of the many ways in which he and the people around him might be prosecuted once he leaves office.

From a national stability perspective, we should probably root for a medical incapacitation or a late-night, fugitive-style flight to Dubai, then a brief Mike Pence presidency. I don’t like it either, but what other options look better?