Lie, Exploit and Destroy

Trump’s tactics are basic branding.

Comments: 190

  1. LIar, Liar, pants on fire Trump is back in town, Don is boasting Foes are toasting Our POTUS is a Clown.

  2. Making rhymes of Donald's deeds Seems frivolous to me, Though you do address your reader's needs As impeachment talk proceeds.

  3. Larry, I approve this but I think the scansion would improve if "Our" is deleted.

  4. You Sir are a NATIONAL TREASURE!!! Thank you for your perception, cleverness and wit. You are a ray of sunlight in an otherwise dark time in our nation's history.

  5. Mr. Blow, while your every word is true, the problem is the entire GOP, which has been peddling lies for decades. And the nagging question in my mind is not only what the party will do to protect Trump, but what it will do next to continue to deliver the nation's wealth to its handlers. Will they, as David Frum recently said, jettison democracy itself? Of course, we already know the answer tp that. Our future as a democracy will be determined in November, of that I am increasingly certain.

  6. You are so right. Without a true legislative check on our immoral president and his GOP sycophants, the damage to be done over the remaining two-plus years of his term will become harder and harder to reverse. As a lifelong Democrat, I desperately hope that all of us who believe in democracy, science and justice will realize that we must not let our own disagreements prevent us from answering history's call.

  7. "Our future as a democracy will be determined in November, of that I am increasingly certain." Or perhaps prior to that with the results of the Mueller investigation and how they are received.

  8. Yes, you have to ask whether Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell are any better, and it seems that they are not. The GOP’s default mod of discourse is lying.

  9. Missing from this litany are Trump's laziness and cruelty. Our sickening descent--increased rhetorical and actual violence directed at immigrants, people of color, women, anyone ''different'' from Trump's white stereotypes--are a direct result of his desire to avoid the hard work of actually understanding anything. He doesn't know, doesn't care and won't do the work. He has used cruelty throughout his career to titillate or intimidate others and knows no other way to relate. While this may have seemed clever, but ultimately proved limiting, in business, it is a defining character trait of our highest office holder. He wants us to hate one another. Those who serve and enable him are accelerating our national decline. They have abandoned all standards, they know no bottom. We must get them out of power as soon as possible.

  10. Just a quibble: "He wants us to hate one another." I disagree. He wants us to love him and hate anyone who doesn't; he doesn't much give a damn about how we feel about others. Moreover, he really doesn't hate any group, as long as they admire him -- that's the key, in fact, the only thing. If you're black, white, red, yellow, brown and love him, great. You're on the team. If you dislike or diss him, you're out because you're either with him or against him. That's my take on 45 so far. Subject to change.

  11. "...it becomes abundantly clear that his branding and messaging playbook could actually fit on an index card: Exploit people’s covetousness, ambition, lust, greed, fear, racial tribalism and gullibility." Excellent column, as usual. I believe that Trump will stop at nothing--even the "distraction" of nuclear war---to stop this investigation. I believe this man is so bereft of any concern for others, that that trait in and of itself constitutes pathology. Or maybe it's just indicative of a mob operator. It's been said Robert Mueller is treating this investigation like a crime syndicate, where betrayal of country was the the currency, the price the campaign paid to keep certain secrets under wraps. I believe Trump got in over his head with Russian oligarchs who now have him where they want him, sewing the chaos Putin craves in order to advance his own goals at the expense of ours. if this isn't treason, please tell me why. Clapping for the "king" is secondary--Trump's autocratic instincts dovetail with the behavior of his handlers who probably couldn't believe their good fortune when the malleable, corruptible Trump landed in their laps during the Miss Universe pageant of 2013.

  12. The technical definition of Treason only applies to helping a foreign enemy that Congress has specifically declared war on. Republicans never commit themselves to a war authorization. This is why all of our recent military actions are using long expired congressional authorizations dating from the 9/11 response. Since we are not officially at war with anyone, aiding our adversaries to destroying our country is not technically treason. It is still vile. Taking support from any foreign power in an election is illegal, but not officially treason.

  13. I actually think they were grooming him long before 2013. I think the Dossier alludes to that. And he’s selling us down the river, not just for kompromat, but for the promise of massive financial gain. I’m convinced of that.

  14. It is indeed the lying - built on the foundation of 'truthiness' dismissed as spin, in order for Faux Noise Machina's 24/7 foghorn of miasma to continue its 2 decade long pollution of the normal discourse, buttressing the Tea Party crowd/Freedom Caucus, who derive their power from the egregious gerrymandering which puts extremists in control of the GOP. In America, words matter, as they do in any society built upon laws taking precedence over feudal patronage. If our words become meaningless, the very Constitution and its Amendments turn to mush; so the termites of djt's Wrecking Crew (and the Complicit enabling gang) are busily at work gnawing away at the norm of not lying, pretending when they lie and have been caught at it, that it's of no consequence. Whatever happened to 'the best people' we were promised ? And note that 'best people' and 'so much winning' are words which have also now lost their meanings. "Trump is an unparalleled combination of mendacity and ignorance" - Max Boot

  15. A dung heap surrounded by dung beetles.

  16. This brilliant essay summarizes exactly what and who Trump is. However, it can be further condensed. All of these characteristics, all of them, accurately describe someone who has Narcissistic Personality Disorder and Antisocial Personality Disorder. There is a common thread that runs through both which is a lack of empathy. Look up both conditions. This essay reads like a description of both. That's why Trump is such a good liar. He doesn't care. There is no emotional penalty to lie. That's why he is so hurtful to others. He doesn't care if he hurts people. He only wants to win. He falsely attacks some of the most distinguished people in the world and treats them like they were criminals. Whether his accusations are true or not is not his concern. He just wants to hit back, so he does. In Trump's mind, there can be no dissent, no disagreement. There can only be complete fealty and submission. He is the Mighty Trump! Bow down to me! Applaud for me! The truly scary part of his pathologies is that he is expert at utilizing them to manipulate about 35% of the population. They cheer him on. They see his failings as components of his greatness. This is exactly how dictators rise to power on the backs of the downtrodden. Castro, Lenin, Pol Pot, Hitler, Ho Chi Minh, were not installed because a bunch of rich aristocrats put them in power. The lower classes did.

  17. I would add one more diagnostic category for your consideration: borderline personality disorder. His inability to see or understand a middle ground between polar opposites is the giveaway, along with his tendency toward chaos.

  18. "not installed because a bunch of rich aristocrats put them in power. The lower classes did." Our 'rich aristocrats" are a willing paying members of his golf clubs. Trump's 35-40% base are not exactly downtrodden. They are not poor nor living in ghettos. Trump is George Wallace of 1960's. It's mainly about skin color. They want pure Christian White America.

  19. Bruce, it's not that he doesn't care if he hurts people, he is a sadist, he enjoys hurting them. A man who grabs a strange woman's genitals isn't primarily looking for sexual pleasure, he is looking to humiliate and denigrate a woman he has never met. This sadistic impulse is as fundamental to Trump's personality as his undeniable narcissism.

  20. Agree, the more I talk to acquaintances who are trump supporters, I marvel that some of them, well educated and reasonably intelligent, have abandoned facts entirely for belief and wonder what happened to the logical rational people I knew just a few short years ago. Even when confronted with clear and convincing evidence that Trump is lying and not factual, they are blind. How does Trump fool them so completely?

  21. The Trump voters aren't blind to the horrors of Trump. They are determined to keep their sense of pride by not admitting the foolishness of their choice. They are reluctant to show themselves as backers of the worst candidate for any office that has ever existed in the whole wide world. It would take much more courage than anyone who voted for Trump could possibly have to say, "I made a terrible mistake."

  22. How does he fool them so completely? ... In general, their abandonment of logic and rationality has everything to do with where they get their information -- confining themselves, as they do, to the warped information machines of Fox News and hate radio. Our military is also an echo chamber for misinformation. Based upon such propaganda, the thinking of Trump's supporters, civilian and military, makes sense. 2+3=6 if someone has convinced you that 2 is this many XXX.

  23. OMG, Tom! I have had the same experience with a friend of mine who has a Ph.D and whom I’ve known for 45 years. He seems absolutely incapable of seeing DT as the destroyer he is.

  24. When this nightmare hopefully is over in 2018 or 2020 latest. First order of business make a law that require release of tax returns for a Presidential and Vice Presidential Candidates as well as Speaker of the House and leaders of the Senate. We want transparency in Washington lets get real.

  25. Being well educated with many degrees does not guarantee common sense or the ability to think critically.

  26. One year later and I am still wondering how anyone voted for this man. One year later and I wonder how anyone with a sense of decency and fairness can continue to support him.

  27. You really must take a look at the daily comments of one Mr. Richard Luttegen (sorry if I didn’t get the spelling right, Mr. L). It is a puzzle indeed.

  28. Pundette and Naomi - I find Richard's comments (Luettgen) extremely important and instructive, as he is someone who obviously has at least average intelligence - and if he were functioning in a purely rational (well, actually, reasonable) manner, of course he would have no difficulty seeing what Trump really is. But, obviously, he's not. It is partly, as several other commenters put it, the effect of the hate radio echo chamber, but this is not sufficient to explain him, as he regularly cites mainstream news sources. The problem is so many people who read the Times don't give sufficient weight to the fact that it is actually the very rare human being who is capable of assessing world events (or really, anything about life) from a purely reasonable position. I would go even further - and farther back, to the Katha Upanishad - and say, no human being every decides anything based on "pure reason." This was an Enlightenment belief which, fortunately, our neuroscience now shows to be utterly wrong. The ancient Sages of the Upanishadic age understood this - in their old, symbolic mythological language, they said, human being have two choices: We can look "downward" or "upward." "Downward" is toward our most ancient evolutionary roots, which made sense in that ancient context - pure survival, by any means whatsoever. "Upward" is toward 'the better angels of our nature." High IQ has nothing to do with it. Now read Richard's comments and see what direction he is looking.

  29. And THAT is the most frightening thing! We can no longer take the moral high-ground when there are so many dark forces willing to support Trump - both in government and in the constituency. As a people, we have been greatly diminished.

  30. If this president goes down, he'll take the country with him. His allegiance is to himself and no one else. His very office means nothing to him, save the trappings of power. His Republican enablers are useful tools that he can discard if they cross him. The Constitution is just parchment to him, its sacred creed unknown to him and unread by him. The checks and balances of American government are inconveniences to his thirst for absolute rule. Which is why he loathes the First Amendment and the freedom of the press. If he had his way, the MSM would be suppressed and Fox News would rule the airwaves. Sean Hannity would be his minister of information. The president has no redeeming qualities and his defiance of proper decorum is what endears him to his base. Unfortunately, his base includes elected officials of his party who are not supposed to be a part of that base. They are in Congress to represent their voters back home, not serve as cheerleaders for their party leader or feel intimidated by angry voters in the Republican heartland. America is not Germany in 1933, nor is it a "carnage" or a "mess" as describes by this president. He ran for the White House because he has a personal ax to grind with minorities, not to make America better.

  31. America may not be Germany in 1933, but it sure is acting like it.

  32. America is built on faith, freedom, and wealth. When wealth becomes the great ambition and driver, faith is perverted, freedom is eroded, and a nation is exposed to the darkest of human instincts.

  33. And never mind that nonsense about separation of church and state. Right Gunter? Your truly, I, Atheist

  34. Because everything Mr. Blow has written is true, it is more important than ever for us as citizens to focus on saving our country from both self-destruction and outside foes. We must not allow our outrage to overwhelm our resolve to protect America despite its current leadership. Because we have no roadmap for how to do this, we must vote at every opportunity, make our commitment to the rule of law clear, and raise our voices clearly and consistently.

  35. There is little doubt about Trump’s lying, exploitation and destruction. It’s out there for everyone to see. It is troubling, indeed, that many Americans are becoming inured to it, and go about their daily lives as if the effects of all this are nil. They aren’t. For a self-professed conservative, applauded, aided and abetted by conservatives, Trump is whittling away at many of the fundamental underpinnings of civilized society in our country, as if it was his and only his country. It is not. When’s sufficient numbers of Americans will wake up to the slippery slope of damage that Trump has placed us on is the million dollar question, and whether it will hold Republicans in Congress accountable for their complicity in all of this is becoming more of a likelihood than a point of speculation. If Trump wishes to destroy his presidency through his own ignorance, wilfulness and narcissism is his business. Destroying our country is another matter, and one which the people may just decide they have something to say about. There is a place called hope, and in our country’s case, it may just lie at the intersection of desperation. Mid-term elections have a way of directing us there, just like GPS.

  36. To date, many craven Republicans seem to prefer the course of quietly choosing not to run for reelection in the face of voter disgust with the current administration and Congress, bowing out meekly instead of raising their voices iin full hue and cry against the outrages of this administration while still in office. Moral cowardice is the tenor of our times.

  37. I agree that Trump is indeed an unusual case. I think that most people make some effort to be accurate or truthful when they make statements. Most of us don't want to be caught in a bald face lie or don't want to give other people the chance to point out our lies. It seems to make absolutely no difference to Trump. He says whatever suits the moment and continues to say it even when it has been pointed out that what he says in false. The more he lies the more his base seems to like him. It is frightening that someone who has no regard for truth or facts is making decisions about life and death issues such as war or peace as well as justice and constitutional government. That is why I do not really understand the 2016 presidential election. I know many people felt left behind, were angry at the "establishment," and hated the Clintons (Hillary in particular). But I actually think that having Trump in the presidency puts the future of the country and constitutional government in jeopardy and that was obvious before the election.

  38. Wow, Mr. Blow once again zones in and describes the situation perfectly. His words are powerful and direct. Glad he’s not Trump’s speechwriter. I look forward to the day when words matter again, and we’re led by a leader, with similar patriots in Congress and the Supreme Court, who truly put country over party or pocket.

  39. The current occupant of the White House is not a man of his word. He cannot be trusted. This translates overseas, both with allies and non-allies alike, into: the USA can currently not be trusted to uphold previously made international commitments (today Paris Climate Accord, NAFTA; tomorrow Iran nuclear deal, NATO?) let alone new ones. Domestically this pathological obfuscation may be viewed through a partisan lens. But make no mistake, the universal international view is that ex-leader of the free world has gone AWOL.

  40. It’s only a matter of time before Trump tweets: My lawyers have nothing to worry about. I’m the best perjurer. No one commits perjury better than I do.

  41. Mr. Blow, By now most Americans understand that Trump is a self-centered individual that will do anything to get praise or to protect the skin of him and his family. My real concern is the enablers like Fox , other right-wing outlets, and the GOP who amplify the lie and seek to protect a man who is dismantling our democracy. Trump is nothing without his supporters.

  42. With Trump the whole world has discovered to its horror what can happen when children aren't severely punished for telling lies. The presidency certainly wasn't intended by the founding fathers to be a tv show, but if it had been that tv show probably would have been called Truth or Consequences and with Trump in the contestant's chair we'd already have moved by now into the 'consequences' phase.

  43. And yet after having witnessed his methods for over a year, his popularity is on the rise. How does one explain that? Trump is gaining popularity with the all important independent voter. Try this on for size. Morality and ethics has so eroded in this country that Trump's behavior is not viewed with disgust and horror, rather it is accepted. No big deal.

  44. You can thank Bill & Hillary for that

  45. "...where passionate faith surmounts accuracy and science." This part worries me a lot. For instance, the HHS Secretary got up yesterday to talk about the flu pandemic. Anyone, like me, who read the Times' excellent piece on the 1917 flu outbreak (truly scary) probably took up the coverage of the Secretary's statement with more than a little anxiety. It didn't seem to say much, except that they're working diligently, blah, blah, blah. As I was reading that, I realized that it might very well be just a big, giant lie and that I don't really know how this flu pandemic is going, scientifically speaking. But that, I guess, anyone who is a Trump worshipper was likely reassured somehow. But because Trump lies about everything, and so do his Congressional and White House cronies, how do we know if we can believe the HHS on a serious public health threat? This is why Trump's lying is so bad: The people are very well being kept in the dark about matters of life and death. If the pandemic did get as bad as 1917 (the outgoing HHS secretary said that was his worst nightmare--it could happen), I am sure we would not know this until it was too late. But, boy, would people ever be angry if they figured out the gov't lied to them. I wish someone would stand up and say that a government official lying is absolutely unacceptable...we can't do government that way. Draw the line, call them out, and don't just laugh it off any more.

  46. 1918

  47. Since he was elected, I’ve been worried about the nuclear button. Or at least war with someone who could really cause damage to us. That is the ultimate distraction, and Trump will see America burn to save his own sorry hide.

  48. This is Donald John Trump. That was him before the campaign, during the campaign, now and into the future. It's who he is. It's part of his psychological make up. We need to accept it, acknowledge it, and remove him from power by invoking the incapacitation clause of the 25th Amendment.

  49. As usual, Blow nails it. And I do believe that when the day of reckoning comes for Trump--and I sincerely believe it will--he will ignite a firestorm among his followers. I've run into some of these folks on social media, and they are scary in their blindness, in their faith that this president is in fact making the country great again. And furthermore, I suspect that many of these people are well-armed and will be ready to use those arms to defend Trump against the truth. I do fear for our future.

  50. Don't be afraid. Consider that the "torches" were *tiki* torches. Made in China, bought at Wal-Mart. Carried around by feeble-minded little guys in khakis and white shirts.

  51. I tend to agree, mix Trumps compulsive lying with his new found position of power and a recipe for the perfect storm exists. I wouldn't mind so much if I had any reason to believe that congress is watching him with caution and has a backup plan if he goes seriously off the deep end. By most modern day standards he would normally be considered as well past that point of acceptable behavior. He has made it pretty clear that in his mind there are no boundaries to his degree of depravity. At this point the question is not when will the final explosion happen but what will be the final cost to democracy.

  52. It’s one thing for Trump to brand a steak, a university, bottled water, a hotel/casino or a tie made in China but when he applies the outrageous, often done in advertising, to America while he is president, it cheapens how we and people throughout the world see our country. That could be a reason why he’s losing elections large and small in places where he won by big margins in red states. The people seem to be awakening to what he has done to our country and no military parade will alter the perception that this would-be emperor wears no clothes.

  53. It's not just the GOP, it's all conservatives everywhere, everywhen. The question is: will non-conservatives actually fight back and when? Given 400 years of North American history, it's hard to be optimistic.

  54. Charles raises a good point. How will Trump react if his back is against the wall? He realizes that if he is impeached his brand will be forever tarnished. What actions will he take? His autocratic tendencies might reign.

  55. Scatman - After being sued 1,500 times (just recently being judged to pay out a $25 million settlement on the bogus Trump University scam) and after suing others 2,000 times to pursue imagined or real insults and honorable resistance, I do not sense that Trump absorbs or wears tarnishing, guilt, accountability, or responsibility like normal, ethical people do. He is consistently and historically an actor in bad faith whose petrified neuronal pathways cycle the same-old-same-old just like an automatic washer. For Trump, "better and different" (if he would even acknowledge the need for such) is about appearances, propaganda, lies, and exaggerations, not about true, honest, fundamental change.

  56. My son, who is 27, told me that the military will never, ever use force against the American people. I told him to look up Kent state.

  57. Trump University, Trump Steak, Trump Ties, Trump Vodka, Trump Shuttle - I'd say Trump doesn't fear failure or a 'tarnished' brand.

  58. One of your best, Charles. One of anyone's best; you really covered a lot of ground, in fact, pretty much the whole waterfront, in this opinion piece. I would change one small thing: "Nuance and complexity are founts of confusion in Trump’s base's mind," although your original sentence is also accurate. Then, right after this sentence, you point out probably something obvious, which I nonetheless managed to miss: "So he gravitates to the most emotionally charged parts of any issue and amplifies them." Score! Bulls-eye. Bases-loaded homerun in the bottom of the ninth! Yes, and as you say, he does this reflexively; it's a learned, polished skill. It's instinctive for him. He is a fascinating study in political personalities. The psychological gift that keeps on giving. What will be seen next from this narcissist in a fishbowl?

  59. Lie, yes, but just as harmful, distract. When the going gets tough, he'll just change the conversation, point in some other direction, find or invent some other problem or opportunity, project his thorny issue onto somebody else. Always Hillary, of course. The military parade is another example. Even if he's criticized for it, it's a distraction. Who knows what's next. Maybe a war. That always distracts. Scary times.

  60. "My sense is that absolutely nothing will be beyond the pale for Trump. He will lie, exploit and destroy. If you think he’s dangerous now, you haven’t seen anything yet." From the narcissist in chief anything is possible. The complaint from the little baby in charge directed to the Democrats who didn't applaud and genuflect during the state of the union is pathetic. But it is also frightening. But Mueller will get to the evil that is in the White House and prosecute.

  61. Apologies; In my main comment, I wrote 2015 when I meant 2005 for the date a book was released.

  62. Charles’s arguments about Trump seek in their tone (at the outset) to appeal to reason rather than emotion, a rare tactic lately in his offerings. He would be more persuasive to those not already fully-paid-up members of the choir in today’s attempt if 1) it didn’t rely so heavily on liberals’ assumption that their social convictions are delivered from a burning bush that speaks only to them, 2) it avoided use of incendiary clickbait such as “lie, exploit and destroy”, and 3) those who might usefully pay attention to him electorally hadn’t long ago ceased reading him because he offers nothing but mono-tonal and context-free spleen on one subject: Donald Trump. And I mourn all that, because for a long time a lot of insight and passion on racial and other issues of the day that could bridge divides came from Charles’s keyboard, and today the only purpose of his columns, week in and week out, is merely eagerly-awaited justifications for one side to hate the other, and the welcome regular supplement to MSNBC talking-points on Trump. Americans concluded, in just the right numbers, in just the right places, that for a time we needed a president who shook the trees and broke open the logjam of a politics that had been frozen for years, rather than resting on his credentials as an avatar of political correctness who would fail to work productively with this Congress and merely perpetuate that frozen state. Because Democrats failed to offer up such a candidate, Trump was elected.

  63. His persona comes with the bargain – but he’s delivering on that bargain, even if Democrats don’t like the results. Trump’s is a persona well-known to those of us who have chosen to live in the real world rather than MERELY in the cloistered elevations of ideal states and noble aspirations. We learned long ago that such people have their uses, but you need to hold them to account and to manage a fairly short leash. Offerings such as Charles’s provide no useful counsel on the wise use of such personas and merely rail at HIS inability to manage that short leash. There will come a time when America no longer needs Donald Trump as president; and the sooner that time comes, the better. For the time being, the Senate has agreed (and perhaps today all of government will agree) to end fiscal cliffs for two years, a consensus is forming that we MUST resolve comprehensive immigration and specifically the Dreamers issue very soon, the economy is humming (not just in the U.S. but dependent economies everywhere), ISIS is just about dead as an organized force, and it’s been weeks since we heard anything particularly bellicose from “Little Rocket Man”. Life is good and getting better, Donald Trump played an important part in making that happen, and let’s just get on with healing ourselves using the best tools we’ve managed to fashion for that important task. AFTER we’ve done that, we can afford to elect a president more to Charles’s liking.

  64. Just a simple question, Richard: If a President Hillary Clinton did what Trump did, would you feel so sanguine? No problem, right?

  65. Richard "Just the right numbers, in just the right places" means that my vote, in Seattle, doesn't count as much as a person in a red state. This is not one person, one vote. The gop cannot win 2 presidential elections in a row without assistance from the e.c., supreme court or Russia. At least you are admitting, sorta, that Clinton won the popular vote.

  66. Great analysis by Mr Blow. The Trump Brand is as twisted as a Ram Truck commercial, completely inverting reality to drive an emotional response. The Trump Brand is not just exaggeration, though there is plenty of that. It is the Big Lie, the most important of which is that climate change is a hoax. This is not some empty campaign promise. It is a vast effort by the Trump Administration, involving EPA, Interior, State, Defense and other Agencies to erase "climate change" from government research, websites, communications, budgets, laws and policies, with the enthusiastic support of the GOP Congress. The leadership of the US Navy understands that 70% of its facilities will be impacted by sea level rise, costing trillions to relocate or raise them now and in the future. Because of the Big Lie, they cannot speak of "climate change" or sea level rise in their plans and budgets, only repairs and upgrades are allowed to address recurrent flooding. Just as the 195 countries of world converge on the urgency of reversing carbon emissions, with key leadership by Obama, the GOP and fossil fuel industry collude to hold back the tide of alternative energy and low emission technology. Scott Pruitt at EPA had to install a sound proof chamber to hide the collusion, inspired perhaps by Kushner's proposal for a secret communication channel to the Kremlin inside the Russian Embassy. The Big Lie is right before us. Our grandchildren and theirs will know how we responded.

  67. Lies beget more lies. So we will see some lies grow as more untruths are piled onto the first. We know what we have in Donald and if Republicans would not ignore or worse sign on to the lies our Democracy would continue to function. But we are at the point where lies cover up past crimes, and the failure of the congress to do its duty to Truth, we are about to have government ignore foreign intervention in the 2018 election. This of course could result in meaningless elections. It has finally been admitted that Russia had successfully attacked voter roles in many key states. What else have they done that we don't know. In Pa. the voting machines do not leave a trail of actual votes to be able to verify results. In Mich. and Wisconsin there are questions about vote totals. All scary possibilities.

  68. Character and moral fiber. Care and compassion. He has none of these attributes and we are watching the wrecking ball of his presidency unfold. I agree with a previous writer who wrote that war could be the ultimate distraction - we must ensure he is not successful in taking us down that dark path.

  69. Trump lied during the run up to his candidacy, during the election and now continues in the White House. He lied all of his business life to banks. The fact that he continues this pattern is not surprising. What is surprising is that it has infected the Republican Congress. There was a time when there was integrity in the Republican Party. The fact that Ryan, McConnell, et al defend, cover for Trump or downright lie themselves is twice as scary. They are in charge of whether or not Trump continues in power. The fact that the Republicans are now trying to build a case for getting rid of Mueller is proof that they also are big time liars. This country has been in danger before by some of its leaders, but this is more ominous. Even his base will feel the dismal and irrevocable damage to this country perpetrated by Trump, his Administration and the Republican Party. As far as protecting his family, Trump will sell them down the river as well as his base.

  70. This didn’t begin with Trump - it began 37 years ago with Ronald Reagan - the worst president ever - All of Trump’s tactics were Reagan’s - Reagan just delivered them better. Trickle down began and failed with him yet the Republicans continued to promote it for their donors. Deficits were terrible if the president was Democrat, acceptable and tolerable under Republicans, who run them up every time. Boehner, Gingrich began the extreme right shift of the party who only continued and grew this national nightmare.

  71. Jean, when i was growing up, Nixon was the republican president, and i thought it couldnt get any worse. It did, we got Reagan, and i thought it couldnt get any worse. It did, and we got Bush. And I thought it couldnt get any worse. Then we got trump. I just want to know, when was that integrity in the republican party?

  72. Will? In the future tense? He already has. It just takes a while to get one's mind around the utter abyss of wretchedness that is this man's soul.

  73. What other kind of governance can a country that lies to itself about itself expect to have?

  74. I don’t think he knowingly “lies”. I think he “believes” everything he hears on Fox, or from some sycophant. That seems to be his only source of information and it has constructed his world view--which doesn’t really include the world beyond wherever he is at the moment. Lying takes planning and creativity, actually believing nonsense is just being a sponge--and I mean no insult to living sponges.

  75. I'm just curious what Republican parents say to their children about Donald Trump. Do they say that he's a good man even though he insults people? That it's OK to throw a tantrum when you don't get what you want? That lying is OK if it serves a larger personal goal? Do they say it's OK to grab women any time you want as long as you're rich and powerful? Donald Trump is more than an embarrassing uncle. He is an anti-role model. He is everything you don't want your children to grow up to be. And I'm afraid we're stuck with him for at least another year, probably 3.

  76. They tell their kids that anyone is better than Obama & Hillary.

  77. These same Republican parents taught and told their children that Barack Obama was born in Kenya, that he was an illegitimate President and that he was anti- American , anti- military and that his administration was the most crooked in history. When in fact , he was the exact opposite of Donald Trump, an excellent role model, extremely well educated, honest, compassionate , self made and a model husband, father and Son In Law and kind considerate caring human being. He was the embodiment of the American Dream yet because of the color of his skin they had disdain for him and everything he tired to accomplish. They will suffer the consequences as will we all of their foolish actions.

  78. Perhaps the only thing left for them to do is lie to their kids like Trump lies to us.

  79. He will be removed from office. Not by Mueller but by the voters in 2020 and it will be an ugly scene with claims of election fraud and God knows what, 24 hour scandal reports on Fox about how illegals voted etc. Worst will be Trump out of office with his base intact to harass the next president with angry tweets, threats and instigation. What would he do between election day and Inauguration day? war? He will not go quietly into the night.

  80. Christopher Steele and Sally Yates overestimated Trump's loyalty to the United States. They worried that Trump could be blackmailed. Trump actually was way beyond that. He is a willing stooge of the Russians, because the Trump Organization needs their money.

  81. this is the best analysis of trump´s character and behavior that I have seen anywhere. The only way patriotic Americans can fight him and his sycophants in congress is to take to the streets and march, march, march! This is very scary. His is a path to destruction to all we hold dear.

  82. Charles, this is all true, but in a way it is old news. We have long seen Trump for the miserable failure of a man that he is. What continues to shock me is the level of depravity and deceit the Republicans are capable of. As much as I despised George W. Bush and Ronald Reagan, I never doubted they loved their country. It's not only Trump who shows a cold indifference to the welfare of the people he governs, it's nearly the whole of the Republican party.

  83. "My sense is that absolutely nothing will be beyond the pale for Trump. He will lie, exploit and destroy. If you think he’s dangerous now, you haven’t seen anything yet." My first reaction to this was that it was an understatement. My worst fears, from the word go, have been validated. I have lost any pretense that I can be shocked anymore by DT's vile behavior at the expense of ANYTHING and EVERYTHING but him.

  84. The last paragraph of William L. Shirer's Forward to his book "The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich", 1960: In our new age of terrifying, lethal gadgets, which supplanted so swiftly the old one, the first great aggressive war, if it should come, will be launched by suicidal little madmen pressing an electronic button. Such a war will not last long and none will ever follow it. There will be no conquerors and no conquests, but only the charred bones of the dead on an uninhabited planet.

  85. Nothing Trump does is beyond the pale for Trump's supporters. He's their savior, their hope.

  86. Since Trump's rise as "The Grand Wizard of Birtherism," you have refused to turn your attention from the danger Trump poses to our democracy. Thank you, Mr. Blow. That nickname you coined is how I long thought of Trump, until my daughter introduced me to a term from her science class, which captures his inflammatory & shape-shifting lying: ballistic gelatin.

  87. apologies to Neil Young. Tin Generals and Trump a coming, It's clear we're on our own Everywhere you hear the call for Impeach him he's got to go. Gotta get down to it Lies are cutting us down Should have been gone long ago. What if you knew them And saw them spread on the ground. They are one with us don't you know.

  88. A man is only as good as his word. It is that simple.

  89. This comment says everything that needs to be said except "impeach." But that leads us to Trump's number one enabler, Pence, followed by his number two (and scarier) enabler, Paul Ryan. We are between a mountain of rocks and a hard place.

  90. ....unless you are a Trump supporter. Then a man is only worth the power he has over others. Therein lies the division.

  91. Many years ago Mayor Koch of New York City said of Trump, "I wouldn't believe Trump if his tongue was notarized." New Yorkers knew that Trump was full of it forever. Too bad the country was naive enough to buy into his shtick.

  92. If we are to assume Trump is a ‘manipulative liar’ then we must believe he lies with intent. To be good at it, one needs a malleable audience. He has that. A popular media outlet supporting your every word is imperative. He has that. His knowledge gap forces him to steer around facts and head straight into an alternate reality of his making. The press is sent on more goose chases as Trump’s verbal diarrhea is spread in small amounts in many places and puts their fact checkers on hyper drive. Trump’s ‘autocratic tendencies’ cause little consternation with his base because they believe that everything they hear from the media is ‘fake news’. That leaves them having to believe in Trump (and FOX News). To make that stretch, many things need to be manipulated which only a despot can achieve. I wish things were different, but here we are.

  93. "In this space, everything must exist at the extremes, or not at all. Everything is love or hate, big or little, best or worst." While your diagnosis of Trump is correct, he is unfortunately not alone. This same space you describe is occupied by millions of Americans. They gravitate to what is emotionally closest at hand, whether the issue is the economy, civil liberties, the environment, religion, or a woman's right to choose, because in their willfully limited view of things their opponent is not only wrong but also evil. The real question is how can thinking people effectively combat this insanity? Any ideas?

  94. Truth is everything, without truth our democracy will die. I believe that Muller and the FBI, whatever their personal feelings about Trump, will seek to expose the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth; that is why they must be allowed to continue. If they end up finding that Trump and his crew lied and/or were colluding, money laundering, and/or attempting to obstruct the investigation, then that doesn't make them anti-Republican, it means they are actually working to defend the Republic.

  95. Well said, Ted Morton: The Republican Party is against the Republic and, I fear, the Democratic Party on the whole is only weakly for Democracy.

  96. Lying must be more common in America than most of us realize because so many of Trumps supporters don’t even blink an eye at it. Fact checking doesn’t work when the people don’t care. This will not end well. Honest.

  97. That's the scary part. In the window of time between Trump's certainty that he will either be forced to resign or be removed from office, and the time that actually happens, there will be an angry, wounded psychopath feeling like he has nothing left to lose. That's when we will need the "adults" in the Cabinet to put their big-boy pants on and save the world.

  98. What adults?

  99. I think Rep John Kennedy from Louisiana, a Republican, said it best yesterday when talking about the possibility of a military parade: “I think confidence is silent and insecurity is loud,” Kennedy told reporters. “America is the most powerful country in all of human history; you don’t need to show it off.” While Mr Blow's article is about incessant lying, the lying and emphasis he places on it when trumpeting it constantly covers Trump's insecurity. He can't shut up. The most dangerous part of the lying (not that the normalcy we attribute to it now isn't dangerous) is that when the real emergencies that place people's lives in danger, or when there is a military action somewhere in the world that places our troops in danger, 70% of the American people will not believe him. The lying is now corrupting every single person he has placed in power and they are not stepping out and subverting or contradicting him. If they do so they risk becoming the newest subject of his lies via twitter or shouted comments. Recently there was something on tv about the period surrounding Watergate. There were videos of things Nixon came out and said at press conferences about the relentless pressure from the press. It was terrifying to hear nearly identical words from this president..... 45 years later, president 45 rose to power with scarily similar lies and tactics and covers his deeds with them to maintain that power. The only way to stop it is a Dem majority. VOTE every election.

  100. Having a Putin stooge in the White House, doing what he can to enrich himself by taking from the poor and handing those billions to the American oligarchs, a man who uses hate and humiliation as his main tools of manipulation...it gives us the perfect way to judge our fellow human beings. Like the other person Manafort helped get into power in Ukraine, Trump needs to live where he is the most loved, Russia. Those Americans who are in bed with him are either incompetent to see evil, or are so compromised as to be worthless as friends or allies. To negotiate with Trump is to be charmed into revealing what we want, then he uses that as a weakness and demands our total surrender to get that one thing. His business mind and thinking is of an animalistic time when humans were enslaved and women were to be beaten and children were property. Before the Ukrainians got rid of their leader, there were many bodies on the streets, gunned down by snipers as they protested. I do expect to see far more evil before we are free of Trump. Hugh Massengill, Eugene Oregon

  101. Trump's characteristic exaggerations about anything positive or that could be positive or should be positive (even when it blatantly is not) connected or slightly connected with him are a known part of the grandiosity that is a symptom of pathological narcissism -- everything the person (and Trump) associates with himself is best, greatest, biggest, most famous, prettiest, most beautiful, most wonderful. Paradoxically, it appears to be a form of a three year old's magical thinking and an infantile desire to have all its needs responded to with the coos, cuddles, and applause a baby receives. It is both the pathetic gasps of a serial loser and dangerous.

  102. Mr. Blow precisely describes the Presidents' profound intellectual and psychological deficiencies as well as his vacuous mendacity, he has however omitted the amorality which frees Trump to destroy and desecrate without concern. Trumps past was an open book, actually told in seamy detail by the tabloids. A large group of Americans either didn't know, didn't want to know, or knew and didn't care that the man running for the Presidency was depraved and proud of it. Trump is less our problem than those who accepted him as our leader.

  103. The major problem is Trumps internal weakness, the fragility of his overblown ego. Any question of his position, any question of his views, is a taken as a direct assault on that fragile ego and he rebels in anger. His internal weakness gives strength to every nation that is aligned against us, and brings fear to every nation that would call us a friend.

  104. A very good analysis of the Trump phenomenon, but describing telling lies as a "fundamental means" makes it sound too calculated. Trump's legal team, with their panic over Trump talking to Mueller under oath, indicates people close to him think Trump lies like a five year old, spouting his wishful thinking and hoping that we will believe him, unable to keep it all straight in his mind, unable to think about consequences extending beyond the moment. It is Trump's fundamental deficiency that has made the Trump phenomenon what it is. He is a rich, spoiled, five year old that never grew up, because money made it work for him. If they had ignored the "bone spurs" and drafted him into the military, they might have made a man out of him, but unfortunately, as often happens with the wealthy he was indulged. See what happens???

  105. ",,,the lying is everything — the root thing, the foundational thing." Thank you, Mr. Blow. Yes, this is it. Lying is Trump's brand. Ironically, those in Trump's "base" who buy this brand only prove that they are living a lie, especially when they have the gall to describe themselves as "Christian" and "moral". Nothing could be further from the truth. Just like Trump.

  106. Mr. Blow, you are absolutely right about the real dangers of Trump’s pathological lying. The house of cards he has constructed is loosely glued together with lies. Whenever one of those cards threatens to bring the others toppling down, he applies a temporary “fix” his house’s instability by distractions by automatically throwing blame. (More lies which begets more wobbliness). If the house of cards really does begin to fall, like with Mueller, Trump will stop at NOTHING to distract. That is when he becomes the most dangerous. The closer Mueller gets the more likely he will rattle the nuclear sword.

  107. What a demoralizing, depressing way to start the day. Of course Charles is spot-on in all of his assessments, and truth hurts. I just wish the NYT had a comics section. Easier to 'read' while making the coffee.

  108. Who would have thought that the Emperor in his new clothes would be coddled by so many. But there was an industrious child, Charlotte Macort, selling Girl Scout cookies who stood out amongst all with her statement "If you are not honest, what are you?"

  109. Sadly, we seem to have totally lost our normal checks-and-balances dynamic. And I continue to be amazed at the passionate non-critical loyalty of his base, which he slyly wields as a weapon to keep the Congressional weasels in line. The lawmakers who have reelection as their primary goal in life dare not anger Trump loyalists, who mostly all vote in off-year elections. As the Meuller investigation noose tightens and panic builds, I just pray that our military will refuse to carry out any act of blatant distraction. They are about our only remaining restraining hope in these crazy times.

  110. If the circumstance get down to the existential nitty-gritty of Trump's survival, Charles, Trump's family is on its own.

  111. Pay attention to what he says. He projects many of his deepest thoughts onto others. Treason has been buried deeply there. It has only come up to the surface as a projection this week. In his mind a military parade may be a necessary distraction to stop us from thinking about who really committed "treason" and probably continues to do so.

  112. My concern is Trump's lying its so all consuming, so all pervasive, that he will be utterly incapable of understanding that any charges brought against him for dishonesty and deception are true. And his base suffers from a similar disease, unable to understand the mendacity and deception that is right before their eyes. They see it as forthrightness and "straight talk". Their problem is ignorance. Trump's is something much deeper.

  113. Yes, agreed... but a year or more ago we knew and commented on his lies and other characteristics that he believes empowers him while harming if not destroying those less favored, especially those who offer any opposition. Thus far, with active and perhaps gleeful GOP enablers, his self-glorification has worked. Many whom we thought were responsible adults with moral compasses and respect for our laws and constitutional norms have proven themselves crass, small, servile, and self-serving people seemingly happy to swim in Trump's polluted waters. He and his followers believe they are above the law; that they are the state and therefore untouchable. Are they wrong? Every day that passes requires more from the "resistance." Every day that passes we place increasing faith in the Special Counsel's work and outcome. What happens if the Special Counsel's work is not the coup de grace we (desperately) would like it to be? By then, will our military and law enforcement agencies have been successfully co-opted? Will the courts have been packed with his sympathetic judges? Trump cares nothing about policy and, I'm convinced, about our nation. He cares only about power and ego-gratification. Will we and our system have sufficient resilience to stop him and his acolytes? I hope so.

  114. I agree. If ultimately trapped and cornered, his response may be far worse than we have see to date.

  115. We knew well in advance that Trump was a liar, and yet we still made him president. This is not about Trump, it points clearly to an amazingly wide gap in the health of our democracy. We don't know how or even try very hard to educate our people to practice democracy. The paltry K-12, hardly-used civics curriculum is case in point. This curriculum is about procedures and testable facts, not about the daily practice of democracy. Trump lies because we don't have any sense of the value of accuracy in our practice of democracy. We don't know how important truth is in democratic involvement in collective decision making and working together to solve problems. This won't happen until we make it happen.

  116. Mike Wilson, I wish I could put a thousand likes on your comment. The whittling away at our education budgets started under Ronald Reagan. I've had neighbors tell me how they're going to resent paying taxes for school once their children are educated. She was mute when I pointed out that I had no children and willingly pay school taxes because I want a civilized country. We stopped paying attention. Trump is the end result.

  117. "Emotion over information. Heat over light. Hostility over comity." This pretty much sums up IQ45 and his cult followers. It never ceases to amaze me how often his cult followers can be fooled into believing him. It's disappointing to think how gullible and ill-informed over 30% of the citizenry is.

  118. Please don't spoil this show. Where are those pundits who were ripping into Obama for his deeds and misdeeds? Are they the ones I now hear taking opportunities to explain away the gross pathologies of Trump? Whether grabbing women, lying or demanding parades, please let him go on. To many, he will clearly rise on the first or second day, turn some liquid into liquor and go into orbit with the Tesla. Let's see how that goes. This guy makes tilting at windmills look like an Award worthy event.

  119. But we’ve always known this. The people who cast their lot (and their vote) for him always knew this. Trump is a symptom of a deeper problem our country has with truth, facts, intelligence, and honesty. Lying until your truth becomes acceptable out of resignation, bullying the opposition rather than making cogent, supported arguments, and heralding ignorance are supposed to be negative things. In this instance, they get you the presidency. We are a depleted nation because of this man, for his election revealed just as much about us and our standards as it did about him.

  120. Brilliantly stated. You've written dozens of great columns on Trump but this is the pinnacle. Trump will do anything to save himself, up to and including the destruction of this democracy. He is bound by no moral or ethical conventions, propelled only by the relentless, unquenchable pursuit of his own self aggrandizement and pure greed. And yes, he's just getting warmed up. If Mueller were to find the courage to bring a criminal indictment against him, we will see things that make Nixon and Watergate look quaint.

  121. I have had the same fears that Blow expresses for months now. And as events ratchet up and and the investigation edges closer and closer to the President will the ultimate act to distract be declaring martial law?

  122. The problem with Trump's lying, as his wise and learned lawyers and trusted advisers surely must know, is that Trump has either lost, or perhaps never acquired, the capacity to know the difference between truth and non-truth. That is why they are worried about him speaking with investigators from Mueller's team. That is why he is a danger to himself and surely to all of us citizens who must acknowledge that he is our ''President Trump.'' Truth of lie? Right or wrong? I argue Trump doesn't have the capacity to know the difference. Like a person who has lost their sense of smell, sight or taste, Trump has lost (or never acquired) the ability to see "truth" because his own hulking Ego has obstructed the view.

  123. This is one of those rare moments where Republicans and Democrats could come together to save the country. I wish they would go arm-in-arm, stand in front of the White House, and show the world exactly who we are - before we completely lose who we are.

  124. "What will Trump be willing to do with that power to stir the passions of his supporters to spring to his defense? " Answer: the same thing he's been doing that keeps his supporters still loyal: yell fake news.

  125. What would he be willing to do? Yell fake news, of course. But also -- Invent a war? --and label anyone who opposes it as un-American? (or "should we call it treason?") His supporters would rise to the occasion. To quote another reader who quoted Sarah Palin: they're "locked and loaded."

  126. My fear is that we will see something occur that will make the term "Kent State" a fond memory. Will American troops once again fire on peacefully protesting unarmed civilians?

  127. If Mr. Trump were to have his way, the atrocities of Kent State and marches on Alabama will seem like a picnic! He showed that desire during his campaign and his gradual takeover ( the parade is first) of the military(?), will give us great concern!

  128. Thank you, once again, Mr. Blow. Trump's mendacity subverts the American brand: the first thing most Americans remember learning about our Presidents is the story of George Washington and the cherry tree: "I cannot tell a lie." What are our children learning, today?

  129. Dishonesty has always been the hallmark of Trump's career, campaign, and presidency. The fact that his "difficulty with precision" has become a euphemism for lying is testament to the increasing acceptance of his lies as "rhetorical hyperbole," as Priebus put it last April. The Washington Post has amassed a list of over 2,000 lies Trump has told since his inauguration last January. This malevolent wanna-be dictator who occupies the White House needs to be called out on his lies as LIES whenever they occur, regardless of his base's deluded and blind belief that whenever he is exposed, it is simply evidence of malicious media attacks. In addition, the members of the GOP who are now acting as Trump's stooges and/or apologists need to wake up if they want to maintain control of Congress. In poll after poll, a significant majority of voters respond that he is not honest, nor presidential. By "standing by their man" their silence or even vocal support of Trump will lead to their losses on November 6th. It can't come soon enough!

  130. @wysiwg Yes, Trump needs to be called out on each one of his lies. I propose LLPOF (pronounced le-poof), acronym for the school yard taunt 'liar, liar, pants on fire,' accompanied by a dismissive hand gesture and French face of displeasure.

  131. All true. But Trump's not the real danger. The tens of millions of Americans who adore him are the real danger.

  132. I can hear it all over the land, now. It's being translated by speakers of most of the world's languages. No longer does Johnny yell, "That's a lie!" Today, he's bellowing: "You're having some difficulty with precision!" And the teacher is marching him straight to the principal's office. The word "lie" will be wiped from dictionaries. It no longer means anything.

  133. Charles Blow, you’ve nailed it yet again. If we survive this presidency, it will be incumbent on all of us to insist on changes to both the vetting of presidential candidates, and the breadth of presidential powers, so a travesty such as Trump never happens again.

  134. Charles and SDT--you are both right. We need some laws to defend against candidates who are dangerous. Don't forget to re-write the use of the nuclear attack away from one impulsive and infantile president all by himself.

  135. What's next? He tipped his hand before the election - as in, if he lost, "the system is rigged". So when indictment and/or impeachment comes knocking he will then have his "proof".

  136. I agree with you, Mr. Blow. Trump's own wellbeing is not just the first thing he considers. It is the only thing he considers.

  137. You are right Trump's well being is all he considers. He would and will throw his family under the bus if he thinks it will be to his own benefit.

  138. I wouldn't call lies the essence of Trump's stance toward others. His essential stance is bullying. Lies are merely an aspect, by which he demands submission in trampling over truth.

  139. Trump is what happens when a willful toddler is left to his own devices and grows up with zero guidance. He has no regards or feelings or concerns for anything beyond himself. He preys on other people. He views everything under the guise of win/lose. He lies to himself and to others without guilt or awareness. He has no honor. No love. He is not particularly bright in any area other than in bullying. That he has mastered to an art form. If humanity has an ideal, Trump is the opposite of the spectrum. You could not give me enough money to even break bread with him.....

  140. The other side of your coin is that you are describing Clinton. We Democrats need to do better. HRS

  141. i was relieved when the donald picked general kelly to be his chief of staff. i thought there's a rational, smart, honorable general who will keep the hands off the nuke button unless we were being attacked. silly me. guess i should watch Dr. Strangelove again.

  142. Charles, your insights and reflections generate hope and belief that with perseverance and the unwavering pursuit of truth the American Democracy will survive the diabolical destruction created by "Trumptopia". ALL Americans need to awaken and realize that WE THE PEOPLE are being used and manipulated not just by Trump but by an elitist, wealthy clan of White Males who are motivated by insatiable greed. Many of them are businessmen, many of them are political world leaders and many of them are pious religious authorities. Collectively, none of them are concerned or are interested in the well-being of a wide spectrum of American Citizens. They are totally motivated their own greed and focused on strategies that will allow them to accumulate their insatiable need to generate individual wealth and power. They honor and worship elitism, racism and sexism. Trump is their puppet. It is time for Americans to wake up, utilize our voices and take to the streets. It is the American People who need to unite and end this nightmare. Since the beginning of this campaign, our country's posterity has been blatantly threatened time and time again. It is time for every American Citizen to WAKE UP and ACTIVELY demonstrate initiatives to end this moral devastation and destruction of civil and human rights that are destroying our nation, humanity and frankly, Planet Earth.

  143. Well expressed.

  144. Everyone who comments on here should take the added further step of emailing their comment to their congressmen and -women. Daily. That might have some effect, in the end.

  145. No voting Congressman to write. Live in the District and pay taxes, but do not have representation.

  146. As reader Aubrey points out, most people try to remain truthful most of the time. In a culture that prizes honesty, habitual lying can jeopardize an individual's reputation. But politicians, who must appeal to a diverse electorate, have developed the skill of shading the truth into a fine art, which helps explain the skepticism with which many voters regard them. Trump, however, scorns the subtleties of political speech. His bald-faced, easily refutable lies astonish us because they seem to serve no useful purpose. But, as Mr. Blow suggests, Trump uses these falsehoods to create an alternative reality, one in which he alone can protect America from enemies, both foreign and domestic, who threaten to destroy the bright past that made this country the envy of the world. Many of those Americans who sense that the US has lost its dominant position on the international scene find this mythical version of reality highly appealing. These voters, regardless of their economic status, had already rejected the leadership of the two parties, whom they held responsible for the impact of globalization and the automation of factory jobs. Trump's relationship to his so-called base will eventually erode, as harsh reality shatters the thick carapace of lies he has constructed to conceal the emptiness of his plan to improve their lives. But how much damage will he inflict before that day of reckoning arrives?

  147. Audibly more Fauvist than Pointillist, the tonal movement of our stringed instrument-like values will eventually yield higher purpose to bipolar meaning of the keyboard-like specificity of mere black & white bents. Thanks to this so-called president, Charlottesville's 8/11 will put 9/11 in the context of an atonement for lies demonstrably more universally fit than self-servingly exclusive.

  148. Everything you note is true , but to his followers it's irrelevant. He is their hero, standing up to the Blacks, the immigrants and the women all whom they think have benefitted and prospered on their backs and taken what is their rightful inheritance , stolen their vision of America. THis is a man addicted to power, to self glorification and adulation whatever the cost whoever he needs to sacrifice. Whatever Mueller finds and I am certain he will find multiple criminal acts and conspiracies, Trump will not leave the White HOuse or resign like Nixon did but rather defy the rule of law and challenge his followers ( who are armed or to quote Sarah Palin, " locked and loaded" ) to defend him and to go after those that seek to remove him. Never has our nation faced such a perilous situation and how we recover and move forward from this is anyone's guess.

  149. And considering the behavior of the "generals" in this administration, the military's behavior might be questionable.

  150. I share your sentiments. However we have faced far more perilous challenges than the naked emperor, and survived them all. A civil war, two world wars, Vietnam, Watergate, slavery, assassinations of political and moral leaders, a British invasion (1814, not the Beatles), and Richard Simmons. The sky hasn't fallen yet!

  151. Immediately after the election I was very scared, but having lived through Watergate I still had confidence that the institutions of the federal government would serve as guardrails and that things would be bad but the republic would hold. I am now officially terrified. He is a wannbe Dictator—who wants a military parade to laud him. The GOP has lost whatever was left of their backbones. He rolls over them likes he rolls over everyone. There will be no Goldwater to go in and tell the president he needs to resign. He lies with impunity and he has Twitter to communicate his lies directly to the public. Not a news conference where he has to talk to a group and take questions, not a televised speech where the networks can refuse to broadcast or have reporters and fact checkers on hand. And he has Fox and Rush to back him up. By the time Mueller gives his report to Congress it will be too late. No one will believe it and the GOP held Congress won’t act.

  152. Perhaps the worst of it all is that Trump is de-legitimizing the Presidency at least for our lifetimes. The next President to counter that, Republican (if there are any) or Democrat will have to be squeaky clean, and rational. Joe Biden comes to mind, maybe Kasich on the other side, but he is a lot more conservative and not respectful of women (anti-choice) in his politics than many would like. We all know, and yes including his Republican supporters, that he is unqualified, and a serial liar, and just doesn't really know what the truth is. As others have said that may work in business, but is damaging in a long-term way as President.

  153. Charles, your column is my first stop every Monday and Thursday when I open my NYT. Your work has become absolutely indispensable during this siege. I thank you for being an amalgamation of d'Artagnan, Simon Wiesenthal and Daniel Ellsberg with maybe a touch of Alan Dershowitz. If you ever make it down to Florida I’d love to share a pizza with you.

  154. There is a book called "The Sociopath Next Door", by Martha Stout (2015) which I first heard of while watching a Bluray disc of the film "Safe House" (2012), starring Denzel Washington and a terrific cast. Very briefly, he is in the CIA, and in "the making of" part of this disc, Mr. Washington said that it became his"bible" (so to speak) for his part in this film. "Perfect for the CIA" he said. Mr. Washington had mentioned it because one of the executive producers gave it to him to help with his preparation for his role. My point is, President Trump fits this description perfectly. He is the book incarnate; "spot on", one might say. I highly recommend both the film and the book I mentioned to watch and read. It is an uncanny description of a person just like President Trump.

  155. "he gravitates to the most emotionally charged parts of any issue and amplifies them" He does. Charles assumes Trump cannot do otherwise. It is also possible that Trump chooses not to do otherwise, because he has learned this works. It works in marketing, and it works in politics (which is a variant on marketing as done in the US). Charles may feel superior, assuming Trump can't think like Charles can think. However, that comfortable emotional assumption may overlook choice, a choice that made Trump President just as the opposite made Charles a columnist. A hard look at politics in America today is not flattering to our political system. It is done by marketing of political image over substance. That marketing is done with vast amounts of money gained by overt corruption from a tiny elite who use that influence to buy power. Seen this way, Trump's choice is not personal weakness, it is a symptom of systemic failure. And yes, our system shows many other signs of systemic failure. Bernie and Warren explain this failure in vast detail. Other Democrats instead sold out to it, and then lost across the country, not just the Presidency but also everything else. There is a lesson in that. Stop feeling superior long enough to learn the lessons from the loss. Stop insulting, and start seeing.

  156. So you're telling us that inasmuch as Trump won the Presidency by lying, all politicians should lie if they want to succeed? And if someone manages to get away with murder, we should all go ahead and do it? And then we can just blame "the system" that makes it all possible...?

  157. Stu -- Not "should lie" but rather "do lie." Tell me you believe the promises of politicians? Anyway, that it is all marketing is a larger issue than just lying. It is the mode of communicating, the subjects of that communication, the featuring of simplified images of candidates, and pushing it all Madison Ave style with big money gained via means that defeat democracy.

  158. Mark, I'm following you with "systemic failure" up to "learning the lessons from the loss". Since the "system", presumably the money needed to run a national campaign, can only be changed from within once you have power, how do you propose we do that? Bernie and Warren did not get the nomination and are still not "national" candidates. They appeal to a part of the electorate that doesn't normally vote; but they lose others. We all see the failure in the system, but you need to be in power to make changes. Explaining it is not enough. Have you seen how Trump is systematically reversing gains made by Obama including rights for minorities and protections from financial predators that Warren talked about but needed Obama as president to implement? Trump has now taken the power away from her agency. Who isn't seeing?

  159. I'm certain that Trump's lawyers have already come up with a defense for his dissembling to Mueller: he doesn't know the difference between fact and fiction. He's incapable of lying because he genuinely believes that everything that escapes his maw is the absolute truth. He sincerely wants to tell the truth; he just doesn't know how .He's ignorant He's stupid. You can't convict a man for stupidity, can you?

  160. " You can't convict a man for stupidity, can you? " You can convict a stupid man for criminal behavior.

  161. Trump's zeitgeist consists only of superlatives. It's a stripped down, racing reductionism. Verbs and nouns have gone way of brakes on speedway bikes. Superlative, superlative, adverb. Trump probably thinks that's a compliment, because he doesn't know what superlative means.

  162. Integrity is the crucial element in public service. Without integrity you are destined to fail. This does not bode well for Trump’s presidency.

  163. Mr. Blow - You are national asset. Simply our best, and perhaps our only remaining, cut-to-the-chase writer about this moment in our history. Thankfully, you don't mess around. Your writing is efficiently yet elegantly spot on. History thanks you.

  164. My mind is still unable to accept that such a totally unqualified person has been elected to the presidency of the United States of America. I can’t find in this individual and in his family any fragment of even any insignificant quality. Each morning I am hesitant about reading or watching the news because all the acts , tweets, any form of communication from this despicable individual wound my mind and diminish hope for the future. My only wish is that all young Americans will wake up this November and cast their ballots to reverse this calamitous course . Their livelihood is at stake, they will inherit a huge debt, a catastrophic environment , healthcare system and education.

  165. The photograph at the top of this column says a lot. We will all have to go to the streets. We don't even need to go to the trouble of making signs—just standing there will be enough. It's time for a general strike. The kind of strike that brings an entire country to a grinding screeching halt. A general strike.

  166. Your fear is my fear, Mr. Blow. It feels like a race against time. I am doing all I can to put Dems into office in 2018 but I don't even know if he will let the election go forward if he thinks the Koch Brothers and the Russians aren't doing enough to prevent Dems taking over the House.

  167. "Because he eschews intellectualism for intuition, because he prefers to watch rather than to read, he has honed his talent for reflexive reductionism." Doesn't this explain why he can't see the Mueller investigation as a hoax? "My sense is that absolutely nothing will be beyond the pale for Trump. He will lie, exploit and destroy." And doesn't this explain why he'd not only be involved with Russian oligarchs and operatives before he ran for office but would be part and parcel of his campaign and a staple of his administration?

  168. I share your fears, Mr. Blow. In particular, I am afraid that once he feels his back is really against the wall, his remedy will be starting a war - possibly nuclear.

  169. I can’t understand why Trump’s lawyers don’t want him to testify because it could be what they called a “perjury trap”. Is a perjury trap merely a situation where someone is committing perjury and is caught at it? Oh, okay—now I understand why they don’t want him to testify.

  170. " If you think he’s dangerous now, you haven’t seen anything yet." Yes, and we will see that increased danger as the Mueller investigation gets closer to its inevitable climax. With Trump, anything is possible.

  171. I am a mental health professional, and for many of us, the lying is consistent with Trump’s pathological narcissism and easily predicted as well as observed. He cannot tolerate any image of himself that does not match his own distorted, inflated view (crowd size and “I won the popular vote” being two very prominent examples; then we can look at fake Time magazine covers; and every single assertion he makes that his administration is the very very best because he has the best brain. Examples abound.). I agree with Blow that the root of this is actually a very deep insecurity and sense of shame. I also agree that Trump might very well do anything to prevent that being exposed. Trump holding the powers of the presidency is about the scariest scenario one could imagine. Trump IS delusional: he holds fixed false beliefs in the absence of evidence, and/or in the presence of contradictory evidence. Delusions distort reality, as Blow describes. Because he is delusional, Trump believes his own lies, he does not recognize them as lies —he has bought his own brand, swallowed it whole. This is in part why he is so effective and persuasive with his base: he ‘tells it like it is.’ This is also why Trump really does want to talk with Mueller, to show how he can ‘handle him,’ that he Trump can win at that game. Whether by consent or through being compelled, I hope Trump does have to answer to the people, through the person of Robert Mueller. It may save the country further harm.

  172. As a country we seem to be waiting for some magical genie maybe on twitter or through our cell phones to pop up and give us three wishes. We wait and wait and wait and all the while become more enured to what is happening right in front of our eyes. The truth: is the lie sitting at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and it has taken our nation hostage.

  173. Thank you, Charles M. Blow, for speaking truth, again and again. We are witnessing the apotheosis of the "we create our own facts" ethos that has predominated in the GOP since the G.W. Bush presidency. Absolutely all of 45's henchmen lie with regularity and impunity. Politicians come and go, but will this country ever recover from such a total degradation of governance? The jury is out.

  174. I take comfort these days that in some alternate universe, Trump never got elected president. I go there visually after I read articles like this.

  175. "There comes a time when the house of cards tumbles, though, and in that moment the liar is vulnerable and the reckoning becomes real. The question that nags me is, 'What will Trump do to distract from the collapse or to prevent it?'" And at that point, how will our elected officials and the American people react to ensure that our country is adequately protected? That is when we will discover how robust our democracy truly is.

  176. Nuance and complexity are founts of confusion in Trump’s basest mind. So he gravitates to the most emotionally charged parts of any issue and amplifies them. This is an essential function of branding: to capture a feeling in its purest form, to connect on a visceral level with a viewer, to compel an action. "Trumpism in a way is about emotion over information. It is about heat over light. It is about hostility over comity. And it is divorced from the rigors of truth and honesty. It exists as a near ecclesiastical devotion in a space where passionate faith surmounts accuracy and science." Your best take yet, Mr. Blow. But what are we going to DO ABOUT IT?

  177. I don't think there is any President that while sitting in office hasn't been overly concerned about his image, and how he looks. Trump isn't overly concerned. It is an obsession, at our expense.

  178. As usual, you are right, and I am terrified as well as great saddened for our country.

  179. It is sadly curious that despite Mr Blow's and others' precise and irrefutable analyses of Mr trump's extreme egotism and mendacity Mr Trump's popularity has not dropped further but has started to rise. Sadly curious indeed. It seems to me ( and probably to many, many others) that Mr Trump's Presidency is not the disease but merely the main symptom of a condition far more sinister and prevalent.

  180. Let me fill in the big blank left by Mr. Blow: the great, overwhelming and utterly terrifying thing that Trump may well do - or at least attempt to do - in a frantic effort to protect himself and/or his family from the legal consequences they deserve is to start a war, most horrifically a nuclear war with North Korea. What can we do to head this off? Impeachment seems obvious, but this would likely precipitate just the disaster we need to avoid as Trump seeks to "wag the dog." So first, let's get Congress to pass a no-first-use-of-nuclear-weapons bill (as introduced by Markey and Lieu) asap!

  181. And second, VOTE.

  182. As terrifying as this nuclear scenario may be, I'm actually more concerned that Trump will push the button on his followers and incite a civil war at home. Given the echo chamber of conservative media, the susceptibility of conservatives to conspiracy theories, and their proclivity to violence it is not hard to imagine that Trump would call them to arms to protect his presidency from the "deep state" and others who threaten to undo the election.

  183. David, if you read between Charlie's lines I think you will see that he eludes to exactly what you say. At least, that's what I see and, in fact, it was my first thought too, just as you say. He will stop at nothing, put nothing before his ego, even this golden country of ours. He is far more dangerous than we even know and I live with fear every day since his inauguration. Keeps getting worse each day.

  184. He will "lie, exploit and destroy," backed by the Republican party. The GOP has been laying the ground for this moment since Nixon, since the Voting Rights Act and the Civil Rights Act. They are poised, with gerrymandering, a threatened census, and a slavish willingness to act as one, to change our democracy into an oligarchy. Trump is a sick man held up as a leader so that the GOP can continue their agenda. You are right about his lying, but anyone who has ever known a true narcissist knows that lying rolls off the tongue as easily as any other kind of speech, perhaps easier. This support by the GOP is not ultimately about Trump, who will be discarded if he ceases to serve their purpose. Look behind the scenes at the donors and the money. Many GOP politicians are completely willing to abandon all principle for the almighty dollar. Just note--besides the destruction of regulations that protect people and the environment, besides the promotion of anti-science, of extremist fundamentalist Christianity, besides appeals to a minority base--the quiet funding of a private army by Congress at Trump's request. This army will do Trump's bidding when the US military may not. Yes, "absolutely nothing will be beyond the pale for Trump." It is essential Mueller continue his investigation to its full conclusion, and that the GOP be brought to account as well. This means even with voter obstruction and gerrymandering, non-Republican candidates must prevail this year.

  185. Thank you Mr. Blow, for your on-going energy. I couldn't agree more with your final sentiments. Trump is not the type to go down easy and he will be more than willing, when his turn comes, to go out in a blaze of nuclear glory. I hope there are those more powerful than I to convince him to "put the gun down" when he's finally done for.

  186. Lying is a learned behavior. Often a family survival/compensation tool. The abused/neglected child liar then becomes the father (or mother) liar and the process repeats itself, often for generations. We all have known such unfortunate people and families. As Mr. Blow says, the truth eventually becomes acute and we choose to move away, to end the relationship. In this case though the father liar is the President of our country, and the majority of his supporters have learned to believe and repeat the lies in an hopeless effort to win his attention and his approval. Maladaptive behavior learned as a child, repeating itself in our adult lives on a national scale

  187. "What will he be willing to....?" He's already showing his willingness to do many things that are costly to us and destructive to American institutions to save his own skin. Not only is "he willing to" but so are Republicans in Congress "willing to" assault our FBI, State Department, etc. etc without allowing even other Republicans in the Senate to review their allegations or go through processes delineated, because they know they wouldn't pass the muster. Speaking of muster, what is this U.S. president doing asking for a military parade? He knows he needs the military behind him to lead the coup on our democracy that Russia and he colluded to plan, but this is what authoritarian regimes do, not our democracy. His continuing fraud of our government and deregulation and tax rip off have costs us enough. Heck, he golfs more than he works. We should not have to pay millions for him to have his parade when people are still without food and clean water and electricity in parts of the U.S. from storm damage. Charles, is right "that absolutely nothing will be beyond" what he is willing to do to save himself. I disagree with Charles on him selflessly doing anything for family, even to protect them, though. He has never done anything beyond selfish motives for his family before. It is always about how he appears and his fans will see him. He's obsessed with appearances, and has nothing but selfish ambition as motivation for everything. He's a bully and needs consequences.

  188. "He [Trump] will lie, exploit and destroy. If you think he’s dangerous now, you haven’t seen anything yet." I agree with Mr. Blow's assessment, which is why Trump and Trumpism must be resisted (and replaced). Part of such resistance is incorporated in the question posed in another Op/Ed (by Mr. Leonhardt): "Should Republicans Vote Democratic?" The answer is "of course". I've long argued that at present "real" Republicans (e.g. Romney-, Bush-, Reagan-ites) have more in common with Democrats than with Trump. Democrats are but a conventional political opposition, a characteristic of any democracy. In contrast, Trump is a danger to both parties, is destroying the Republican Party, and, most importantly, is undermining the Nation itself. There are times when voting for the other party's candidate, at least as a temporary expedient, is the (only) proper thing to do -- it's not a sin. Indeed, the current so-called Trumpian Republican Party is fast making a straight Democratic ticket appear reasonable, virtuous, and perhaps even necessary. My guess -- and hope -- is that Trumpism will follow the course of McCarthyism and Wallace's segregationism.

  189. Charles Blow is correct. As Trump gets backed more and more into a corner, there is nothing he would not to protect himself or his family. I have a real fear that even if he is defeated in the 2020 presidential election (or impeached before then), he will refuse to step down and will try to use the military to support him staying in office. Many might scoff at that idea, but really, would you put that past Donald Trump?

  190. May I direct readers to the the NYT piece yesterday on evangelicals' access to the White House: nytimes.com/2018/02/07/us/politics/trump-evangelicals-national-prayer-breakfast.html?hpw&rref=politics&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&module=well-region®ion=bottom-well&WT.nav=bottom-well This is truly scary, particularly the picture showing hands laid on DT's back during a "prayer". Separation of church and state anyone? The evangelicals' political positions (on women's issues and on science/environment particularly) will lead to harm and, yes, the death of American citizens. The fact is that Americans have a much greater chance of being harmed by these people than by terrorists. Evangelicals, at least those who support the President, are a serious menace to the well-being of American citizens. Now imagine a President who, just as regularly as for the Evangelicals, welcomed at the WH the best and brightest minds of the country: the almost countless American Nobel Prizes, its greatest writers and artists, some of the the almost obscene number of American "great brains" in universities across the country, deep thinkers... But no, the door is wide open to ignorant evolution-denying fanatics who seek to impose their superstitions on all Americans. As I said: more dangerous than terrorists.