Correct me if I’m wrong, but is it possible that Donald Trump has been president for a full 61 days and not once claimed that 9/11 was an inside job?
I’ve scoured the internet for possible examples of such a statement from the sitting commander-in-chief, and so far, I’ve come up with nothing. (For our purposes, we will discount this interview, since it was given on 9/11 itself, before anyone knew anything.) As it turns out, in the decade-and-a-half since the worst terrorist attack on American soil, Trump has been totally, weirdly consistent in his view that the World Trade Center was brought down by Osama bin Laden and his minions in al Qaeda—and not, say, by a controlled explosion orchestrated by George W. Bush. As far as our dear leader is concerned, the basic facts of 9/11 are settled science and not worth questioning further.
In light of all the nonsense that this administration has forced us to confront on a daily—if not hourly—basis, let us take a moment to appreciate the grace and maturity exhibited by the 45th president, vis-à-vis September 11, in accepting incontrovertible evidence as objective truth when there are other options open to him.
After all, this is the same guy who glanced at the cover of National Enquirer and proclaimed that Ted Cruz’s father was an accomplice in the Kennedy assassination. The guy who propagated the theory that millions of non-citizens committed voter fraud because a German golfer told him so. The guy who pushed hard for birtherism based on sources he never named, and who just recently accused President Obama of illegally wiretapping him based on documentation he has never produced. And on and on and on.
Given all of this irresponsible rumor-mongering—this obsessive-compulsive embrace of political fairy tales when empirical facts are readily available—we are left to wonder: Why isn’t Trump a 9/11 truther? If he can so easily be made to believe that Obama could surreptitiously “tapp” the phones at Trump Tower, what’s stopping him from buying into a Bush administration that could surreptitiously blow up the World Trade Center to justify a war in Iraq? As the leader of the free world, shouldn’t he be chomping at the bit to expose the would-be greatest crime of his least favorite Republican president once and for all?
You’d think he would be, and if Trump’s rank gullibility and ignorance aren’t sufficient reasons for him to be suspicious, surely his ongoing association with avowed 9/11 truthers would eventually do the job.
That’s right: At this very moment, there are bona fide 9/11 skeptics within the president’s inner circle. No, not his chief of staff or secretary of state—I’m talking about people he actually listens to and whose ideas he regularly repeats. People like Alex Jones—aka the poor man’s Rush Limbaugh—who uses his radio program to scream about how the Sandy Hook massacre was fake and the government is using chemicals to turn frogs gay. (Google it, kids!) Or people like Andrew Napolitano, the Fox News contributor who originated this week’s bizarre claim that the (fictional) wiretaps in Trump Tower were the work of British spies.
These men are cooks, yet Trump’s ear seems to hang on their every word. The president has come to view their hysterical ravings as gospel, thereby nudging paranoid gobbledygook into mainstream political culture.
We already know how pointlessly disruptive the presence of conspiracy theories can be on the daily operations of the U.S. government. As we speak, actual intelligence officials are being paid actual wages to “investigate” something the president tweeted several weeks back at 3:35 a.m. Two days ago, the director of the FBI was compelled to discuss those investigations in front of a congressional committee, all of whose members—like every other person in America—already knew those tweets were BS and hardly needed James Comey to confirm it.
The question now isn’t whether anything substantive will be gleaned from these mad accusations. (It won’t.) Rather, the question is how Trump will react to being proved a liar in half a dozen different ways. If his past behavior is any indication—and it always is—he will continue insisting upon the rightness of his wrongness right up until every member of his administration abandons him, at which point he will sheepishly concede that no wiretap took place, quickly adding that he’s proud to have stubbornly suggested otherwise, since the ensuing investigation was the only way for us to know for sure that President Obama isn’t a criminal. (As you’ll recall, this was roughly how he handled being humiliated about Obama’s birth certificate in 2011.)
However this particular national embarrassment is resolved, we can take it as a moral certainty that life under Trump will only get dumber from here, and you can take it from me that the longer he remains president, the greater the odds are that he will openly question 9/11.
Remember: Trump’s solution to any big scandal is to create an even bigger scandal, and at the current rate his presidency is unraveling, it won’t be long before he burns through every other shiny object in his playbook and all that’s left is the Hail Mary. Yes, the pushback will be fierce, and yes, the calls for his resignation will reach a veritable fever pitch. But what would that matter to a man who believes he can generate his own reality and dismiss all opponents as the instruments of “fake news”?
In other words, the nation is currently engaged in a staring contest with someone who has no eyelids. For all the unpredictability baked into our 45th president, we can be absolutely sure that a man who has skirted personal responsibility for the first 70 years of his life is not going to change course by the time he turns 71. As Newton might’ve said, a president under a delusion will remain that way unless acted upon by a majority of the House and two-thirds of the Senate.