Now, the Gridiron is a roast of sorts — a usually polite send-up of Washington’s political culture. So, yes, Sununu was “joking.”
But like all good humor, there’s a kernel of truth in what he had to say.
Time after time over the last several years, when the topic of Trump comes up, I have had influential Republicans — including some former elected officials — raise questions about what motivates the former President and, well, what exactly he is thinking when it comes to what he says and does.
Chatter about Trump’s mental state has, in fact, been an ongoing component of his time at the top of the Republican Party.
“Peril,” Bob Woodward and Robert Costa’s book about the final months of the Trump presidency, is larded with questions about Trump’s mental state.
This is in reference to Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mark Milley, who was the highest ranking general in the administration, about the January 6, 2021, riot at the US Capitol:
“[He] was certain that Trump had gone into a serious mental decline in the aftermath of the election, with Trump now all but manic, screaming at officials and constructing his own alternate reality about endless election conspiracies,” Woodward and Costa write.
The book also cites this from House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, in a call to Trump on the eve of Joe Biden’s inauguration: “I don’t know what’s happened to you in the last two months. … You’re not the same as you were for the last four years.”
In short: While Sununu was, ostensibly, joking, it’s not really a laughing matter. There are lots and lots of Republicans — including many who are publicly supportive of Trump — who privately wonder about his mental state and what it means for the party going forward. We should all be worried about what it means for the country going forward.