You just came out of a yearlong coma, and you’re trying to catch up. The unimaginable is real. The Cubs won the World Series. California has been drenched with so much rain that its biggest dam may fail. And in the first month of a new presidency, the leader of the free world has:
▪ Told a stunning and easily disproved lie on his first full day in power. He then sent his spokesman out to repeat that lie and said the press would “pay a big price” for refusing to do the same. The pattern of taxpayer-financed mendacity continued nearly every day under the new regime, with lies about everything from the murder rate to the weather.
▪ Threatened to “defund” the most populous state in the nation he governs, California, the world’s sixth-largest economy, which contributes more than $350 billion in annual tax money to the federal government. “California is, in many ways, out of control,” he said.
▪ Insisted, with no evidence, that 3 to 5 million people had voted illegally — which, if true, would constitute a huge crime, and one of the biggest election scandals ever. When pressed, a top counselor coined a term that came to define the new administration: “alternative facts.”
Never miss a local story.
▪ Told the Mexican president that he might send the world’s most powerful military across the border to take care of some “bad hombres,” prompting the cancellation of a planned meeting. Hung up on the leader of a nation, Australia, that has long been one of the most reliable U.S. allies.
▪ Created chaos at airports around the world and leading universities and companies at home with the stroke of a pen. His ban on people from seven Muslim-majority countries broke apart families, stranded doctors and scholars, and prompted an early constitutional crisis. When his executive order was halted by a court, he attacked the independent judiciary, calling the Republican-appointed judge who challenged him “a so-called judge.” He said blood would be on the hands of courts that had defied him.
▪ Sent his 31-year-old senior adviser, Stephen Miller, out on the Sunday talk shows to further threaten judicial authority. “The powers of the president to protect our country are very substantial and will not be questioned,” Miller said.
▪ Insulted one of the nation’s most revered civil rights heroes on the eve of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, calling Rep. John Lewis “all talk, talk, talk – no action or results,” and defaming the congressman’s city of Atlanta as a crime-ridden hellhole. He used the holiday itself to brag about his Electoral College victory and bash the press.
▪ Attacked a major U.S. retailer, Nordstrom, for dropping a failing clothing line of his daughter’s. His top counselor, Kellyanne Conway, used her White House position to urge people to buy these same products from her boss’ daughter.
▪ Installed as national security adviser Michael Flynn, a man who had taken Russian propaganda money and spoke, back-channel, to the ambassador of a nation that tried to disrupt the U.S. election. The vice president lied to the public about this because he was not informed of it.
▪ Suggested there was moral equivalence between state-sanctioned killings by Russia and actions of the United States. Not long afterward, Russia deployed a new cruise missile in violation of a treaty with the United States and moved a spy ship just off the coast of this country.
▪ Prompted a top-ranked U.S. general to wonder whether his own government was “stable,” a leading Republican senator to say the administration was “dysfunctional” and a respected psychiatrist to express concern about the president’s “grave emotional instability.”
▪ Turned his resort in Florida into an open-air situation room, potentially exposing national security secrets to enemies and social media chuckleheads. “Holy moly!” posted a witness who watched it unfold.
▪ Responded to general criticism, as well as questions about the rise of anti-Semitic acts, with a boast about his Electoral College win. “I comprehend very well, OK? Better than, I think, almost anybody.”
▪ Tried to install as labor secretary someone who violated labor laws, wants to replace workers with robots and doesn’t believe burger-flippers have the right to a living wage. In announcing a new pick, after the first nominee withdrew, the president bragged about his Electoral College win.
You slap yourself. You douse your head with water. The incompetence, the leaking, the daily indignities. What country is this? Is this behavior normalized? There’s more.
As the first month was coming to a close, he held a news conference and bragged about his Electoral College win while lying about the margin’s place in history. His administration, he said, is a smooth-running machine. “There’s zero chaos.” He spent the majority of his time ranting about the press, then predicted the response: “Tomorrow, they'll be saying, ‘Donald Trump rants and raves at the press.’ I’m not ranting and raving.”
Through it all, he did manage one truth:
“I don’t think there’s ever been a president elected who in this short period of time has done what we’ve done.”