He seemed as if he might be delirious. He blasted out bewildering tweets in all caps. Sick and infectious, he circled the perimeter of the hospital in an armored SUV, waving to supporters. He demanded the arrest of his opponents.
After doctors treated Donald Trump with a steroid last week, following his COVID-19 diagnosis, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, other Trump critics, and national-security experts questioned whether the drug had warped his judgment. “Roid rage” started trending on Twitter. His condition revived talk about invoking the Twenty-Fifth Amendment. A Stanford University law professor who had taken the same drug tweeted that she couldn’t be “president of my cat” when under its influence.
Those suspicions miss the point: Trump is belligerent when sick, just as he’s hostile when well. He sees plots when he’s dosed with dexamethasone and conspiracies when he’s gulping Diet Coke behind the Resolute desk. Days have passed since he apparently stopped taking the drug, and he sounds every bit as unmoored.
What’s been driving him in the final stretch of the campaign isn’t a medication that messes with his mood. It’s dread, people who’ve worked with him throughout the years told me. There are less than three weeks to go in a campaign that appears to be heading the wrong way. “He’s down and he’s likely to lose,” a former White House official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to talk more freely, told me. “This is fear.”