It’s becoming increasingly plausible that President Trump is simply trolling the media, and by default, the entire world. Otherwise, it’s difficult to really understand how his latest statement could be seen as anything other than performance art.
In an interview with CBS This Morning, Trump was asked several questions about his unfounded allegation that former President Obama directed the nation’s intelligence agencies to conduct illegal surveillance of Trump and his associates during the 2016 presidential campaign. After some back and forth about how he initially thought he’d get along with Obama, CBS anchor John Dickerson simply asked Trump if he stood by his earlier “wiretap” allegation.
“I don’t stand by anything,” Trump said.
Now, before you assume that the commander in chief misspoke or the quote is somehow taken out of context. Here’s the full answer:
“I don’t stand by anything. I just—you can take it the way you want. I think our side’s been proven very strongly. And everybody’s talking about it. And frankly, it should be discussed,” Trump said. “That is a very big surveillance of our citizens. I think it’s a very big topic. And it’s a topic that should be No. 1. And we should find out what the hell is going on.”
When Dickerson pressed Trump for more details, the famously thin-skinned leader of the free world simply ended the interview and walked away.
And while much attention is understandably being paid to his reaction, it was the earlier answer that may be the most revealing. After all, Trump’s own admission that he doesn’t “stand by anything” is backed up by an ever-growing pile of evidence, no matter where you find yourself on the political spectrum.
After all, Trump famously bragged during the campaign that he could literally murder someone in broad daylight on the streets of New York and it wouldn’t hurt him with the 40 percent of voters that have remained steadfast in their support.
It started early, with Trump shifting from a seeming liberal New York real estate tycoon to a fierce conservative, opposed to immigration and touting his newfound religious faith. But as President Trump has struggled to get any of his major initiatives through Congress or the federal courts, he’s shown an equal readiness to throw his neophyte convictions out the door.
That’s cold comfort to anyone opposed to his more right-wing policies. Because it’s clear in Trump’s own words that his constant shifts in policy and tone have nothing to do with principles or even sound politics. It’s all what Trump is feeling in the moment, a mantra that requires loyalty to no one or anything.