The Corner

Politics & Policy

Trump Isn’t Getting Crazier; He’s Getting Comfortable

Suddenly Donald Trump’s mental fitness is the hot new concern. Old arguments about the 25th Amendment are hot again. Is he senile? Is he crazy? The Daily News says this morning that he’s a “madman.”

While not ruling any of that out, I have a different theory worth considering: Rather than getting crazier, Trump is simply getting more comfortable with the job. Back around the inauguration, I remember telling people that I wasn’t worried too much about what he would do on Day One or even Month One. (In fact, back then I was pretty optimistic that the Trump administration would get a lot of great stuff done.)

My argument was that, in the early days, Trump would probably be intimidated by the job, as any human would be. He would listen to people who knew what they were doing (more or less) and would certainly be more likely to defer to his generals. Even he probably understood deep down that he had a lot of on-the-job-training to do.

What I worried about was what Trump would be like once the awe wore off and he took it for granted that he belonged in the Oval Office. What few restraints on his behavior that existed — both internal and external — would lose their power.

I don’t think this is an all-explanatory theory. The fact he keeps feeding his base while alienating everyone else might be explained by any number of factors, from bizarre theories about the nature of the electorate or simple spite.

Or he may be crazy (by a bit or a bunch). His behavior yesterday, during what could be the best news cycle of his presidency, is certainly a data point in favor of that case. But my argument is that he hasn’t gotten crazy or become crazier since getting elected. Rather, it’s that he’s become more comfortable in the job and by extension less likely to restrain himself.

Whatever you think about the president, this is definitely the same guy America elected in 2016.

Jonah Goldberg — Jonah Goldberg holds the Asness Chair in Applied Liberty at the American Enterprise Institute and is a senior editor of National Review. His new book, The Suicide of The West, is on sale now.

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