It’s not just that President Donald Trump has been spouting nonsense at a greater rate, although he is. What’s new is that his false statements are becoming more bizarre. He said this week, for example, that his Bronx-native father was born in Germany. And they are accompanied by other displays of apparent cognitive distress. Among the glaring examples:

  • Last month, the President of the United States looked at Apple executive Tim Cook, one of the most important business leaders in the world, and called him Tim Apple.
  • A few days earlier at a conservative conference where he literally hugged a flag, Trump ditched his script and rambled for two mostly incoherent hours. He mixed mockery, profanity and grandiosity in a style more suited to a barstool than a podium decorated with the presidential seal.
  • In an Oval Office encounter with reporters this week, he repeatedly used the word “oranges” instead of “origins” to demand an investigation into the beginnings of the independent counsel’s probe of Russian influence in the 2016 election.
  • Bizarrely, he told a GOP fundraiser audience that “they say” the sound created by energy-producing windmills “causes cancer.”
In any family, a 72-year-old man who spoke this way would be the subject of urgent discussions. Trump’s trouble accessing words, summoning long-term memories, and naming a famous man in front of him could indicate mental deterioration. Add the crazy talk about windmills and cancer, coming from the leader of the free world, and you get a situation that ought to alarm everyone.
This situation is complicated by Trump’s long and deep record of lying to suit his purpose. For decades, he made excessive claims about his wealth and abilities and the ratings for his reality TV show. Fantastic claims became his self-serving stock in trade. As a politician, Trump transferred this deceptive method into the political landscape — call it his lie-scape — and picked up the pace of the falsehoods.

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