Unknown.pngIn her September 23 piece in The Atlantic recounting her interview with then Candidate Trump, Selena Zito came up with the best two-liner of the year: “When he makes claims like this, the press takes him literally, but not seriously; his supporters take him seriously, but not literally.” She actually presented him with the idea during her interview, and he thought it was “Interesting.”

How interesting? Wasn’t it soon after that that he really started stepping up his criticism of the press? Maybe Zito’s comment was just reinforcement of what was already bugging the soon to be presumptive nominee, but maybe that comment really iced it for him. What could infuriate a narcissist more than not being taken seriously? And how much worse, for it to be by the noisy press. I’ll bet he thought, “I’m going to get those bastards.” And he’s proven to be pretty good at it.

Yesterday, Brooks and Shields on NPR were discussing two possible explanations for the President’s behavior during his first week in office. Essentially: 1. He’s calculating and Orwellian (did you see how popular 1984 has again become?) or 2. He’s a 5 year old who needs to do this to feed his ego. (For the record, I was twice as charitable calling him a 10 year old.) David Brooks (staunch Reagan republican, mind you) thinks he’s a 5 year old. Take me seriously or I am going to hit you, Press!

Now that we are all taking him seriously (like a heart attack), my theory is that the string of executive orders this week were his attempt to be taken literally too. Give the President credit, he has not forgotten his campaign promises. This was a week of: See, I was serious and literal. I’m going to build a wall, I’m going to keep Muslims out, I’m going to end Choice, etc.

So here’s what’s interesting. If Selena Zito was right with the second part of her pithy quote, are those serious-but-not-literal supporters having second thoughts after the literal first week of the new presidency? Were some of these voters thinking?: “I think we should tighten up the borders a little, but of course we won’t build a wall, that would be ridiculous. And of course we won’t ban Muslims, that would be un-American.” And now…holy moly!

And, more interesting, how about the Republican Congressional Leadership? Were some of them only comfortable getting in line with Trump Republicanism because of the false comfort of assuming he was not being literal? Any second thoughts? Yes, the Republicans own the Congress, but the big question is does the President own the Republicans? More to the point, does he own all the Republicans. It only takes three in the Senate to break ranks on an issue and the vote flips the other way. Literally. Seriously!

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