The cheeriest scenario one can dream up is that President Donald Trump gave his audience a great glimpse of his very unique sense of humor.
On Tuesday night, Trump, holding forth at yet another pep rally for himself, began huffing and puffing the usual grievances about news media coverage.
Then one of the special moments of the performance struck.
“These are dishonest people. They are bad people. The only people giving a platform to hate. Look back there! Those live red lights, they’re turning the lights off fast.
“Like CNN. It does not want its falling [sic] viewership to watch what I’m saying tonight.”
But the viewers who tuned in on cable news got to keep watching, on the channel of their choice. Whatever “lights” the president saw or fantasized being “turned off,” the broadcast, of course, went on as always. His live audience in Phoenix didn’t necessarily know this and probably didn’t care.
By now, lot of words have been used by lots of people to describe Trump making a blatantly false or misleading claim: crazy, passionate, gaslighting, serious-not-literal, bold, dishonest, narcissistic, absurd, cynical — take your pick.
Someone on Twitter even likens Trump to the late cutting-edge comedian Andy Kaufman, who sometimes had audiences guessing whether he was going too far and losing his mind in front of them, or just acting that way to get a reaction.
While it sure was zany for people listening at home on Tuesday to hear the president hint that they had just been kept from listening at home, Trump does have a pretty long history of staging the most outrageous political show on Earth.
Those in politics who suddenly express concern about his stability these days may be doing so not because they see a change in his behavior, but to distance themselves from it.
Were the same critics saying “Oh, he’s crazy” when Trump openly hallucinated about millions of illegal voters, called Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton the “founders of ISIS,” or tweeted about wiretaps, the climate-change “hoax” and thousands of locals cheering the World Trade Center attack?
Some were, but not all. It may just be that for Republicans in Congress in particular, the Trump road show has gotten too irritating to laugh or shrug off.
Check back as the 2018 election cycle approaches.