As he sat beside Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau on Tuesday morning to ring in the 70th anniversary of NATO — an alliance that the French president appears to have tricked him into supporting — President Trump was asked by reporters about his impending impeachment and offered his usual contemplative response, calling House Intelligence Chair Adam Schiff a “deranged human being,” as well as a “very sick man.”
He also reached for a curious metaphor to describe the supposed damage impeachment will to do to future presidents:
Trump’s strange argument may be an echo of a phrase that has gained currency among pro-Trump sections of the internet over the last couple of years: “Orange Man Bad.” As the indispensable site Know Your Meme puts it, the phrase is deployed to describe a person who is “programmed with simple slogans to oppose the Trump presidency.” It is popular among staunch Trump defenders like “Dilbert” cartoonist Scott Adams, who deploy it as a hand wave–y defense against any presidential infraction by labeling the person making the accusation as suffering from incurable Trump derangement syndrome.
Was Tuesday’s comment a specific rhetorical choice from Trump? Or might he have just heard the phrase somewhere in the conspiracy-theory swamps he inhabits and had his messy unconscious spit it back out in slightly garbled form to the public? It’s impossible to say.