The former president’s deterioration is on full display in the Truth Social asylum he built for himself.
By Charles C. W. Cooke/ National Review/ January 25, 2023
Let’s check in on the shadow primary for the 2024 Republican nomination. Nikki Haley is putting together a finance committee, and suggested last week that she’s “leaning in” to a run. Mike Pompeo has just published a book called Never Give an Inch, and told CBS yesterday that he’ll decide whether to enter the fray over the “next handful of months.” Governor Ron DeSantis has continued to pick winning fights in Florida since being reelected in a November landslide, and has stayed assiduously quiet about his future.
And then there’s Donald Trump, who, despite being the only candidate who has officially announced his bid, is . . . well, ranting like a deranged hobo in a dilapidated public park. No, don’t look at him — he might come over here with his sign.
There was a point in time at which Trump’s unusual verbal affect and singular nose for underutilized wedge issues gave him a competitive edge. Now? Now, he’s morphing into one of the three witches from Macbeth. To peruse Trump’s account on Truth Social is to meet a cast of characters about whom nobody who lives beyond the Trump Extended Universe could possibly care one whit. Here in the real world, the border is a catastrophe, inflation is as bad as it’s been in four decades, interest rates have risen to their highest level in 15 years, crime is on the up, and the debt continues to mushroom. And yet, safely ensconced within his own macrocosm, Trump is busy mainlining Edward Lear. Day in, day out, he rambles about the adventures of Coco Chow and the Old Broken Crow; the dastardly Unselect Committee; the (presumably tasty) Stollen Presidential Election; the travails of that famous law-enforcement agency, the Gestopo; Joe Scarborough’s wife “Mike”; and other unusual characters from Coromandel. “Where the early pumpkins blow / In the middle of the woods / Lived the Yonghy-Bonghy-Bò / Who STOLLE THE ELECTION / Don’t you know?”
These characters come and go as the world passes indifferently by. But Trump’s heroism remains the one constant. It is the dream of any artist to play both performer and critic, and, on Truth Social, Trump is living the dream. At times, his penchant for self-elevation makes God’s declaration in Genesis “that it was good” look positively bashful. Apropos of nothing, he will declare to himself: “‘TRUMP WAS RIGHT ABOUT EVERYTHING’ One of [sic] most often used current phrases or statements. Wow, such a magnificent compliment. Thank you!” Other evaluations are equally gushing. His appraisal of the social-media company of which he is the sole potentate: “TRUTH SOCIAL IS SOOO GREAT!” His review of his golfing abilities in a competition that, astonishingly enough, he managed to win despite missing its first day: “Competed against many fine golfers, and was hitting the ball long and straight,” which “in a very real way . . . serves as a physical exam, only MUCH tougher.” His assessment of his presidency, and of the 2020 election that he lost by millions of votes: “I did a GREAT job as President, maybe the best.” And then: “I Ran twice, did much better the second time (Rigged Election!)” I tell ya, Charley, I coulda been a contender.
Throughout his public career, Trump has resembled nothing so much as a drunken talk-radio caller from Queens, and, on Truth Social, readers get the treat of watching him at the zenith of his rhetorical powers. Nobody — and I mean nobody — can shift gears as fast as Donald J. Trump. One moment he’s proposing that the solution to the Supreme Court leak is to “arrest the reporter, publisher, editor—you’ll get your answer fast,” or, if that fails, “put whoever in jail.” The next, he’s describing the prosecution of his business associate, Allen Weisselberg, as “the greatest Witch Hunt of all time.” His repertoire is unmatched — and unmatchable. He can do edgy insult comedy for the people listening in at the bar: “The reporter was a shaky & unattractive wack job, known as ‘tough’ but dumb as a rock.” He can make numbers up off the top of his head: “The change in the Election was Complete & Total, with Millions of votes switched, at least 17%.” He can use hyperbolic analogies: “Our Country is SICK inside, very much like a person dying of Cancer.” He can even do angry: “May he Rot In Hell!” He can do anything.
Anything, that is, except focus on the world outside — where the problems that Donald Trump once used to propel himself into the White House remain real and pressing, whether or not he chooses to engage with them.