I’m old enough to remember when people thought the Reagan administration was nutty simply because wife Nancy dabbled in astrology. Were those the good old days or what? Because what we have now is a full-moon loon.
Turns out that Donald Trump, a great test case for the 25th Amendment, is now questioning whether his voice on the infamous “Hollywood Access” tape — the voice he has long confirmed was his — is perhaps not really his. From today’s New York Times:
“Mr. Trump as president-elect began raising the prospect with allies that it may not have been him on the tape after all. Most of Mr. Trump’s aides ignored his changing story. But in January, shortly before his inauguration, Mr. Trump told a Republican senator that he wanted to investigate the recording that had him boasting about grabbing women’s genitals.
“‘We don’t think that was my voice,’ Mr. Trump told the senator, according to a person familiar with the conversation. Since then, Mr. Trump has continued to suggest that the tape that nearly upended his campaign was not actually him, according to three people close to the president.”
Who, pray tell, is “we?”
Also today, The Washington Post reports:
“Trump has asked others whether they think the voice sounds like him, suggesting that it does not, and has wondered aloud whether perhaps the tape was doctored or edited in an unfair way to villainize him.
“‘He would just assert it and people would kind of say, Okay, let’s move along,’ said one person who had heard the comments. ‘There’s no point in sitting there and litigating it with him.’ A second person who has discussed the tape with Trump recalled, ‘He says: It’s really not me. I don’t talk like that.'”
But Trump clearly stated in October ’16 that it was really him, and that he did talk like that. I’m well aware that nothing whatsoever can shake the loyalty of the Trumpkins (except perhaps taking them to the cusp of nuclear annihilation thanks to an idiot tweet), but, what the heck, let’s perform the old-fashioned task of comparing what he’s claiming now (the “Hollywood Access” voice wasn’t him) with what he ‘fessed up back then.
Right after the tape surfaced, he released a video statement: “I said it, I was wrong, and I apologize.”
Pretty straightforward, right? And there was more: “I’ve said and done things I regret, and the words released today on this more than a decade-old video are one of them. Anyone who knows me knows these words don’t reflect who I am.”
Then, a few days later, during a debate with Hillary Clinton, he said: “This was locker room talk. I am not proud of it. I apologize to my family, I apologize to the American people. Certainly I am not proud of it. But this is locker room talk.”
In every remark that autumn, he acknowledged that the voice boasting about sexual harassment was indeed his. Yet now he’s openly entertaining the notion that the tape was a plot concocted by Grassy Knoll Productions (with his voice no doubt mimicked by Obama). So we’re faced with only two possibilities: If he really thinks the tape was fake news, it means that his ’16 confessions were serial lies; but if his ’16 confessions were sincere acknowledgments of reality, it means that he’s delusional now.
Let’s go with delusional, because it fits with all the other factoids that alarmed aides are currently leaking to the free and independent press: The “Hollywood Access” voice isn’t his, he won the popular vote against Hillary (a triumph denied him due to non-existent voter fraud), Obama was not born in America (he’s still clinging to that one, even though he acknowledged the opposite late in the campaign), and Robert Mueller’s Russia probe will be wrapped up, complete with exoneration, by year’s end.
Peter Wehner, an aide to three Republican presidents, reportedly offers a pitch-perfect diagnosis: “He creates his own reality and lives in his own reality and tries to bend reality around himself and his own deep narcissistic needs. But, of course, in the end reality wins out, and trying to disfigure it or reinterpret it doesn’t work.”
And what’s likely to happen when his disfigurement doesn’t work? One adviser reportedly worries, for instance, that if Mueller fails to speedily exonerate, Trump will “blow a gasket.”
Question for today: Does dwelling in a delusional bubble warrant removal under the 25th Amendment? We’ve never tested that proposition. But we need only ask ourselves whether a guy who retroactively tells himself that his voice is not his voice should be dealing with North Korea’s ICBMs.