“As I have stated strongly before, and just to reiterate, if Turkey does anything that I, in my great and unmatched wisdom, consider to be off limits, I will totally destroy and obliterate the Economy of Turkey (I've done before!)."
The President of the United States, near midnight, October 7, 2019
This tweet illustrates in four short lines that Trump’s narcissism, fueled by three years of the presidency, has grown to galactic proportions. It is now too vast to temper or control, and those inclined to try have been banished from the White House. It is the only driver of American foreign affairs (we no longer have a foreign policy).
Trump no longer acknowledges the government he heads. We have only “I.” Like Louis XIV (L'état, c'est moi), he conflates the country and the “stable genius.” He doesn’t speak for the government of the United States, he is the government of the United States.
His grandiose faith in his infallibility and monarchical sense of indispensability are both debilitating delusions which, when combined with a particularly malignant strain of pathological narcissism, cries out for invocation of the 25th Amendment.
Before Trump, what would you have thought if anyone referred (without humor or irony) in a speech or written pronouncement to their own “great and unmatched wisdom”? It’s one thing to think it, it’s another thing to say it. If a corporate CEO made a public statement referring to his or her own “great and unmatched wisdom,” the Board of Directors would be convening over the weekend, engaging a psychiatrist and hiring a headhunter.
And then there’s the bully, telling a NATO ally publicly that it most not cross a line defined as “anything that I [again “I”] . . . consider to be off limits,” and threatening to “totally destroy and obliterate” their economy. This is not only illogical, impossible, unhinged, and illegal, but should mortify every person who loves our country. And, by the way, the idea that he (again ”I”) has already destroyed the Turkish (or any other) economy provides the icing on a layer cake of delusion.
Note that none of this has anything to do with the substance of his change in policy toward the Kurds. That was a mistake (ok, perhaps more than a mistake, given our moral obligations to our Kurdish allies). But it should hardly be a surprise. He doesn’t understand any of the complexities of the Middle East and acted by midnight tweet based on what the last person he talked to (Erdogan) said. It’s fascinating that it was this unforced error that finally started to break down the wall of GOP solidarity. I would invite the Republican Senators speaking out against the policy to reconsider the Tweet and the man behind it. Their former GOP Senate colleague Jeff Flake said: "I never thought I would live to see an American President speak this way, using language that can only be described as authoritarian. Fellow Republicans, where is the line?" And while they’re at it, those fellow Republicans might want to ponder Flake’s earlier advice: “Trust me when I say that you can go elsewhere for a job, but you cannot go elsewhere for a soul.”