President Trump spent his weekend like any other wealthy 70-year-old American: hobnobbing in Florida and tweeting wild, completely unsubstantiated claims about how his predecessor wiretapped him during the campaign. Yes, America's swift descent into the absurdist abyss continues, but John Oliver popped up last night to guide us through a new entirely synthetic executive branch blunder that he couldn't help but call, "Stupid Watergate."
It is more than a little unnerving that 1) this is how Trump reacts to a frustrating week of press coverage and 2) that he just repeats, verbatim and without verification, something he reads on Breitbart. "I think we can now declare," Oliver said, "that Trump officially has a worse media diet than the Son of Sam killer."
(The ABC report in Oliver's segment allows the Trump camp the hedge that he could have heard this in a top-secret national security meeting. Yes, and then he patiently waited, sitting calmly on this bombshell revelation about a political opponent, until 5 a.m. on a Saturday so he could tweetstorm about it before the rooster crowed.)
That the claim likely originated on right-wing conspiracist talk radio with Mark Levin, then made its way through Breitbart to the president's brain, is a prime example of the Conservative Information Recycling Complex. Don't hold your breath for actual evidence. As it stands, the wiretapping accusaiton is simply the figment of someone's imagination. Anyone who wants it to be true has already accepted it as fact, and that includes the president.
Then, of course, there's the administration's response. As usual, it involved adult human beings explaining that "the president must have seen information that leads him to believe" something (more accurately: the president is hearing things), with the tone of a parent explaining why their kid peed on the see-saw. It is both incredibly frustrating and undeniably sad to watch otherwise well-adjusted people, who populate the power center of the world's most powerful nation, try to explain away actual madness on live television.
This is the latest sign that the stress and frustration of the first month-and-change of his term are taking their toll on the president. But remember when he read a speech from a teleprompter and became presidential?