From left, Cedric Richmond (D-La.), Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.), Rep. Gwen Moore (D-Wis.) and other members of the Congressional Black Caucus meet with President Trump at the White House on March 22. (Andrew Harnik/Associated Press)
Opinion writer

“It was like working with a celebrity that’s in charge of government. Doesn’t that sound familiar?”

In President Trump, Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.) has seen this movie before. The four-term Los Angeles progressive was a member of the California Assembly when action star Arnold Schwarzenegger became the Golden State’s governor. And when Bass became speaker of the assembly (2008 to 2010), the first African American woman in the nation to reach such legislative heights, she was in constant contact with him.

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“He was a celebrity,” Bass said of Schwarzenegger in the latest episode of “Cape Up,” “but you didn’t feel he was unstable.”

Bass was so concerned by what she saw on the campaign trail last year that she started a petition in August calling on Trump to undergo a mental-health evaluation. As of this writing, it has garnered 36,773 supporters. Now that Trump is president, Bass said her town halls have turned into psych sessions.


Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.) during an interview with The Post’s Jonathan Capehart for the “Cape Up” podcast on April 3. (Carol Alderman/The Washington Post)

“I’m now a political therapist,” Bass said about the role thrust upon her at her town halls. “It is deep, the level of fear, panic. … People are seriously frightened by this man … People are way more frightened by this guy than they are mad that [Hillary Clinton] didn’t win.”

Bass was elected to Congress in 2010, the same year the tea party ushered the Democrats out of the majority in the House. What’s happening now “is like that time period on steroids,” she said. Bass was part of the Congressional Black Caucus contingent that met with Trump at the White House. Listen to the podcast to hear what happened.

“It was clear we weren’t there to schmooze,” Bass said.

“Cape Up” is Jonathan’s weekly podcast talking to key figures behind the news and our culture. Subscribe on iTunes, Stitcher or wherever else you listen to podcasts.