After his win in the Iowa caucuses last week Donald Trump came to the microphone and gave an uncharacteristically gracious victory speech. It was actually standard stuff, exactly what you’d expect from any candidate except him. In these situations, the job is to try to soothe the hurt and disappointment of voters who opposed you in order to bring their followers to your side as you go through the process. Trump actually tried to do that, prompting the usual round of “he’s pivoting!” from the talking heads. But, as usual, that little burst of decency was short-lived. Last night in New Hampshire, he gave one of the most boorish victory speeches anyone has ever given.
He is obviously extremely angry at Nikki Haley for not losing bigger, dropping out of the race instantly and begging for the privilege of endorsing him for president. And he made no bones about it. Apparently, he believes that it’s even inappropriate for her to appear before her supporters and pledge to continue the race, even though that’s what candidates always do:
Trump: But then somebody ran up to the stage all dressed up nicely when it was at seven. But now I walked up and it said 14… She’s doing a speech like she won. She didn’t win. She lost. pic.twitter.com/eYsZHjKlBg
— Acyn (@Acyn) January 24, 2024
Trump does’t very happy with tonight. He is attacking Haley despite a push from some of his allies to appear gracious. He calls Haley an imposter: I don’t get too angry, I get even pic.twitter.com/UpL1a6kHdY
— Acyn (@Acyn) January 24, 2024
Then he seemed to threaten her, making the robotic sycophants standing behind him laugh like a pack of hyenas as he cast out crude innuendo, weirdly claiming that if she won she would end up under investigation for “little stuff she doesn’t want to talk about.”
He even attacked her clothing.
The real low point was when he made Senator Tim Scott humiliate himself and figuratively lick his boots on stage by pointing out that he was the senator from Haley’s home state and she had appointed him, making it clear that Scott stabbed his former benefactor in the back for Trump’s benefit.
“You must really hate her,” Trump said of Haley, at which point Scott eagerly wagged his tail at the attention and came to the microphone to proclaim, “I just love YOU!” It was simply nauseating to watch. It’s pretty clear Scott is auditioning for the Mike Pence love-struck lackey award in Trumpworld and he did a good job. Someone, probably Trump himself, even told him that if he wanted to be considered for the job of dutiful doormat he needed to get himself a lady stat, and he got that done right away. Whether Trump ultimately chooses him remains to be seen but no one can say that he didn’t give it all he’s got.
Jeff Sharlet on Twitter expressed what I suspect was many people’s feeling of revulsion at the display:
“I hold Tim Scott in contempt, but the depth of self-abasement here is hard to look at. All the more so for understanding how Trump’s supporters see it, a racist innoculation against charges of racism that in turn “permits” more racism.”
As for the speech itself, I think Republican strategist Mike Murphy said it best:
I’m on a plane west from Boston, but managed to watch Trump’s “victory” speech. So depressing, what a parade of unworthy dregs. Just raw, stupid, insecure IQ 50 bile.
What a sick, needy f@ck Trump is.
It’s all about re-electing Joe Biden now.
— Mike Murphy (@murphymike) January 24, 2024
He’s more than just sick and needy, however. He’s also truly showing real signs of mental degradation. He’s saying things in his speeches that are just incomprehensible and he’s doing it a lot. For instance, after noting that Haley said South Carolina is next on the calendar, he noted that Nevada is actually next and then weirdly proclaimed, “I’m pleased to announce we just won Nevada!”
Now it’s true that Nevada has a bizarre system with the state requiring a state-run primary instead of a caucus but the GOP there holding a caucus anyway. But it’s not taking place next month and Haley was never participating in it anyway. What’s he talking about?
It’s been a while since the country has seen Trump in all his glory but he’s back and he is much less coherent than he used to be. His “jokes” are obscure and mystifying and he doesn’t seem able to communicate his thoughts with clarity. For example, this sort of thing is common:
Trump: Gas, it’s very high. Coming down because they’re throwing everything that they can to get it—. Right after the election, if that ever happened. You better hope to god it doesn’t happen where he gets in because he’s destroying this country. pic.twitter.com/Yn5OsGjJzK
— Acyn (@Acyn) January 22, 2024
This is becoming a major campaign problem for him. He’s always had a mercurial temperament and he remains astonishingly ignorant about government, history, economics etc. even though he’s done a full term as president. And there were instances as president when he appeared to have developed an odd verbal glitch, as if he couldn’t grasp the right word and said the wrong one instead, repeatedly:
This past week he did something similar but much worse when he blamed Nikki Haley for failing to protect the capitol on Jan. 6. He was obviously lying again about Nancy Pelosi but he said Haley’s name repeatedly in a way that was very odd, seemingly unable to stop saying it. I don’t know what kind of medical problem that might be, but it’s clearly something. And it’s happening a lot.
As journalist Jonathan Karl said on “Good Morning America,”
“Donald Trump is truly confused about who Nikki Haley is, thinks somehow that she was in charge of security at the Capitol on January 6th. We’ve seen him confuse Joe Biden with Barack Obama, he thinks that he beat Obama. We saw at one point, he talked about how Biden was going to get us into World War II… There have been several moments on the campaign trail where he has seemed, quite frankly, out of it.”
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He’s been doing this for a while and people are only now starting to notice because he’s much more present on television. Here’s a glaring example from last September in South Carolina:
When I came here everyone thought that [Jeb] Bush was gonna win. And then they took a poll and found out trump was up by about 50 points. Everyone said “what going on?” They thought Bush because Bush supposedly was a military person. Great. You know what he was —- he got us into the middle east, how did that work out, right?”
He has said at different times that he ran against George W. Bush and Barack Obama and beat them. This isn’t just normal slips of the tongue. There’s something very weird about how he is mixing people up like this all the time and speaking in incomprehensible fragments.
I think he knows something is wrong because he keeps talking about how he aced the “cognitive test” which he also claims he has taken more than once. And he’s talking about it constantly:
That’s not quite the brag he thinks it is.
I wrote about this some months ago and noted that he’s terrified of losing his mental faculties because his own father had Alzheimer’s disease. He knows what it looks like and I suspect that when he gazes in the mirror to put on his make-up in the morning he recognizes what’s looking back at him. And it’s getting worse.