What should be done about this kind of behavior? Twitter and Facebook responded with the extraordinary step of freezing the president’s accounts and taking down the video he posted. Some peripheral administration figures—the first lady’s spokeswoman, the White House social secretary, a deputy press secretary—announced that they are resigning. More consequentially, the national security adviser and deputy national security adviser are reportedly considering doing so as well. There are vague reports that some Republicans are discussing the possibility of invoking the 25th Amendment, under which an unfit president can be removed from power, or supporting a second impeachment vote.
The assumption underneath all of this, seemingly confirmed by a leaked Wednesday email in which Jared Kushner’s father told a friend that Trump’s actions are “beyond our control,” is that the president has gotten untethered; there is no longer anyone at all to mediate, even in a craven or enabling way, between his impulses and those of his most delusional, violent supporters. And with his social media accounts shut down, we lack even the usual level of awful access to the pattern of his thoughts. The man who is nothing but performance has been cut off from the audience that gives him shape and meaning.
What is the president doing? Is there a president right now, really? The safety line has gone slack in the cave, and we are all waiting to see what kind of thing will come back out.