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Trump's Brain: A Refillable Vessel

In his interview with Time magazine as “Person of the Year” (and before anyone squawks, it’s not given for accomplishments but impact — Hitler was selected back in 1938 and Stalin in 1939) he said,

“I’m going to bring down drug prices. I don’t like what has happened with drug prices.”

He did not say, of course, what programs he had in mind for reasons that will be obvious in a bit and the interviewer didn’t press the issue. However, Adam Fein, president of Pembroke Consulting, a firm that looks at pharmaceutical economics, heard the comment and offered a suggestion. Trump, he thinks, is likely sending a signal to the industry. They should, he counseled, be prepared for him to take action sometime in the future to try to bring drug prices down.

This gesture on Fein’s part, in my view, was a display of hopeless naiveté and it reveals what is wrong with the way almost everybody deals with Trump. Honest folks like Fein and the many others who try to get Trump under their own particular microscope or strive to unpack what he thinks, believes and/or intends to do are making a fundamental error. When trying to make sense of what Trump says they assume that there is sense behind it.

That is the fatal flaw. That is why all the commentators, editorial writers, psychobiographers and casual bloggers who struggle to unravel the can of worms that is Trump’s mind end up scratching their heads and looking confused.

These efforts at interpreting the words of politicians and diplomats — standard operating procedure in a normal world — are wasted on Trump. It is the new insanity because Trump doesn’t really mean what he says. There’s little doubt in my mind that he doesn’t really think that drug prices are too high — certainly not in the sense that Clinton would if she said it or Sanders would (and did).

I predict that in a surprisingly short period of time, perhaps as short as a week or two, Trump will have a different stance, not remember saying what he did in the interview and, if pressed, deny that he did.

What I am virtually certain happened is that the last person who spoke with him about drug prices said that the pharmaceutical firms were soaking the people or he saw a cable news show trashing drug price increases. So he incorporated the idea and now thinks it’s his.

But since there was no deliberative process, no serious thinking, no reading up on the issue, no discussions with advisors or industry experts, it will just rattle around in his head until he talks to someone else and some other seedling of a thought takes its place. Trump’s brain is like a cheap tin tub with many small holes. Some notion, some meme gets poured in, sits there for a time but then slowly leaks out and is gone, to be replaced by the next input message which could very well contradict the one that just oozed away.

If this seems too harsh it’s worth keeping in mind that, as Gail Collins revealed in an insightful column in the NY Times, he had forgotten completely about his campaign “promise” to save the jobs Carrier wanted to ship to Mexico. He had to be reminded so that he could take credit.

Get used to this sports fans because this is what things are going to be like. Trump’s “refillable mind” is right out of the opening scene to every episode of Monty Python, “And now for something completely different” — and no one has a clue how to deal with it.

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