The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Opinion Trump seems to have lost it. So what do we do?

Icebergs are seen from the window of a plane carrying NASA scientists on a mission to track melting ice in eastern Greenland on Aug. 14. (Mstyslav Chernov/AP)

The Post reports that there is no Trump administration plan in the event of a recession: "Trump has a somewhat conspiratorial view, telling some confidants that he distrusts statistics he sees reported in the news media and that he suspects many economists and other forecasters are presenting biased data to thwart his reelection.” (Next, he’ll be ranting about strawberries.)

If you think that’s frightful, consider another Post report: “Trump has pushed top aides to investigate whether the U.S. government can purchase the giant ice-smothered island of Greenland.” As one might expect, “The presidential request has bewildered aides, some of whom continue to believe it isn’t serious, but Trump has mentioned it for weeks.”

Greenland is part of the kingdom of Denmark, and last time I looked it wasn’t on the market. (What would the comps be?) In case you thought the wall was an expensive boondoggle, imagine what a pretty penny it would cost to buy a country of “2.2 million square kilometers, with 1.7 million of that covered in ice.” (Yes, after World War II, the Truman administration tried to buy it, but it didn’t amount to anything and no serious person thinks Denmark is going to sell part of its kingdom to us.)

Sure, this is humorous, but it also frightening. We have no idea why this particular Trump obsession has taken hold or why someone — his secretary of state, perhaps — has not told him that this is silly, a waste of aides’ time and evidence of Trump’s unfitness as commander in chief. It is, after all. And whoever leaked this to the media seems to have understood the necessity of halting this behavior and, more important, grappling with his unhinged conduct.

Danish politicians ridiculed the notion of selling Greenland to the U.S. following reports Aug. 16 that President Trump had privately discussed buying it. (Video: Reuters)

We are facing a possible recession, brought on by Trump’s ignorant trade war. Trump has made hash out of relations with allies, sabotaged bipartisan support for Israel, been snookered by Kim Jong Un, refused to take interest in securing our elections from Russian interference and exacerbated a border crisis by cutting off aid to three Central American countries We have a wave of white nationalist violence, for which a large majority of Americans think he is at least somewhat to blame. And Trump frets about Greenland.

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Alarm bells should have been ringing long ago about this president’s fitness. Trump’s inability to distinguish facts from lies (more than 12,000 of them); his obsession with (and exaggeration of) his 2016 victory, which renders him unwilling to recognize Russia intervened to help him; his incoherent speech pattern and tweets; his refusal to read briefing materials; his impulsive moves and personal attacks on perceived enemies; and his affection for and manipulation by foreign dictators collectively suggest that he is not fit to work in the White House, let alone to be president. (Should the military obey a first-strike order from this guy?)

One would hope that former advisers, including James Mattis, H.R. McMaster, Rex Tillerson, Dan Coats and Gary Cohn, as well as the few remaining independent voices in the administration (FBI Director Christopher Wray, CIA Director Gina Haspel), would understand the necessity of advising Congress and the American people if they have concerns that the president is unfit.

Don’t get your hopes up about the 25th Amendment, however. We have no reason to think members of his Cabinet and Vice President Pence would have the character and good judgment to activate its terms.

Nevertheless, Trump’s behavior should give the House, already down the road on an impeachment inquiry, a sense of urgency. If the president has committed High Crimes & Misdemeanors and is also unfit, shouldn’t Congress be speeding things up? If evidence from Donald McGahn and others prove compelling on obstruction of justice and the economy sinks into recession, the Republican-led Senate might just take an impeachment trial seriously, or at the very least, urge him to resign or declare that he won’t run for reelection.

In the meantime, the media and Congress should stop pretending Trump is fit to govern. He’s not. He needs to go as soon as possible, by whatever legal or electoral means possible.