Has the White House had a certifiable lunatic as its resident in previous years? Here we are in the second day of the Trump presidency and the most important thing on the mind of the most powerful individual in the world is how big his crowds were at the inauguration.
As he addressed his intelligence community – or part of it – you might have thought he could have come up with slightly more pressing topics of consideration for his speech. But nope. Crowd numbers and the mendacity of the press were his highlights.
We know Trump cares about his ratings. During his bizarre transitional period he found time to lambast Arnold Schwarzenegger for his low ratings as the new host of the “Apprentice”. He even gave himself a nickname. “Ratings Machine DJT”. So this stuff is important.
The two picture above have had wide circulation. The top one shows the crowd for Barack Obama’s first inauguration in 2009. The second shows the crowd for Donald Trump’s inauguration in 2017. There is a bit of a difference. Even a casual observer can see that. Whatever the numbers were in 2009, they were considerably lower by the looks of it the other day.
This would normally be a matter of inconsequential comment before moving on. But partly because Trump bigs himself up so much, the photos received wide publicity across various media. Cue the statesmanlike White House response.
Not only does Trump major on this to the intelligence officers, but his new press secretary, Sean Spicer, indulges himself in an extraordinary rant at the media in his first press conference. Both Trump and Spicer show-cased their infrequent relationship with the truth. Trump could apparently see that there were around 2 million people in the crowds from his perch at the podium. Spicer ranted first that there were no official numbers available and then, without batting an eyelid, announced that this had been the largest inauguration crowd ever. Period. So there. He also misrepresented a comparison of DC metro numbers, claiming that there were over 500,000 journeys on Friday compared to a mere 3000,000 on the day of Barack Obama’s second inauguration. Washington Metro actually reported 193,000 metro rides just after 11am on Friday, compared to 513,000 on Obama’s first inaugural. The figures for Friday seemed to be the lowest of any inuagural travel since 2005.
Spicer- surely the most comic figure to ever stand in that press room – then had to go further. When Trump addressed the intelligence officers, so the press were told, there over 500 people there, and over 1,000 had applied to be present. The officers were ecstatic in their joy at having Trump as their new president. They love him and he’s got their back.
The problem is I’m not actually sure they were lying. There is a serious danger that they actually believed their own nonsense. Trump is delusional enough to convince himself that he can accurately assess 2 million people standing in front of him. The raging Spicer could not even maintain a basic consistency for two sentences.
Pathological liars or delusional maniacs. Either way, the lunacy in the White House became more palpably certifiable just two days in to the administration.
The New York Times report of the press conference is here. The opening part of the press conference from old loony-bag Spicer is below.
Slate fact-checked the lies in Spicer’s statement – 4 in 5 minutes.