Born amid the fever swamps of the far right

Chris Cillizza at the Post looks at Trump’s raving paranoia.

Donald Trump’s political career was born amid the fever swamps of the far right. He seized on a favorite conspiracy theory bubbling there — that then-President Barack Obama was not, in fact, born in the United States and therefore was an illegitimate president — to boost his profile in national politics.

That boost eventually led to his 2016 candidacy. That candidacy led to President Trump. But what never changed is Trump’s roots in the conspiracy theory world.

That makes sense in a way. Trump is a remarkably empty, unthinking, incurious, ignorant guy. Conspiracy theory is attractive to people with those deficits, because it’s a Story, and a Story is all it is. Shiny! It doesn’t require thought or rich information, and in fact it flourishes in their absence.

There is, as you probably already guessed, no detail about the alleged wiretapping included in any of the Trump tweets. Trump’s tweets appear to trace back to an article Friday on Breitbart News headlined “Mark Levin to Congress: Investigate Obama’s ‘Silent Coup’ vs. Trump.” That article, based heavily on conservative talk radio host Levin’s views, suggest the Obama administration conducted a “silent coup” to keep Trump from the presidency.

Here’s the key paragraph:

In summary: the Obama administration sought, and eventually obtained, authorization to eavesdrop on the Trump campaign; continued monitoring the Trump team even when no evidence of wrongdoing was found; then relaxed the NSA rules to allow evidence to be shared widely within the government, virtually ensuring that the information, including the conversations of private citizens, would be leaked to the media.

The problem here, of course, is that what Levin — and Breitbart — use as evidence for these claims are a series of seemingly unconnected events — from FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) court requests to Trump joking about the Russia email hack, to the release of Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta’s emails in the fall. The proof that all — or any — of these events are tied together by actual facts as opposed to supposition is not offered.

But for Trump that’s fine – supposition is good enough for him, because he’s just that empty and mindless.

Here’s the thing: Conspiracy theorists see everything as connected. If you doubt them, well of course you do because you’re in on it. That’s not the standard that we can have for the president of the United States. Proof is required.

The ball is in Trump’s court. Short of convincing evidence to back up the wiretapping claims, the conspiracy-theory candidate has become the conspiracy-theory president.

And he has the nuclear codes. This just won’t do.

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