And so, on one day, we had an unhinged and divisive rant by President Trump in Phoenix. Then, the next day in Reno, Nev., a call for national unity and reconciliation. Multiple political personality disorder. Rhetorical schizophrenia.
The gap between Trump extemporaneous and Trump scripted is canyon-like. The normal role of a speechwriter is to find, refine and elevate the voice of a leader. The greatest professional victory comes when a president thinks: This is the way I would sound if I had more time to write and more talent with language. In these circumstances, speechwriting is not deception; it is amplification.
.. But what about speechwriting that is designed to give a leader a different voice? Here moral issues begin to lurk. Is it ethical to make a cynical leader appear principled? A violent leader seem pacific? A cruel leader seem compassionate?
.. Or maybe a speechwriter can hope a president will eventually rise to the level of his teleprompter.
- The real voice defending a supporter who had been fired by CNN for writing “Sieg Heil” on Twitter.
- It was the real voice expressing greater passion in criticizing journalists than white supremacists.
.. his transparency reveals a disordered personality.
his Phoenix remarks indicate a loose connection to reality.
- His response to the violence in Charlottesville was, in his view, “perfect.”
- The North Koreans, he claimed, are learning to “respect” America (for which there is no evidence).
- “I don’t believe that any president has accomplished as much as this president in the first six or seven months,” Trump claimed of himself. “I really do not believe it.”
What if Trump really believes what he claims? Then he would be not deceptive, but deluded.
.. Trump is not merely acting unpresidential; he is erratic and grandiose.
On the evidence of the Phoenix speech, Trump believes that a government shutdown is preferable to giving up on funding for the southern border wall. This involves a different type of delusion. Poll after poll demonstrates that about 35 percent of Americans support Trump’s wall. You can’t hold national parks and veterans’ payments hostage over an issue like this and expect to win.
.. “It also takes careful management of the levers available to the administration in a shutdown to keep it from becoming a nightmare immediately, and OMB [Office of Management and Budget] is not doing the work to prepare. Incompetence is the death of these guys over and over.”
.. The unified control of House, Senate and presidency means little when the president lives in a reality of his own.