There have been numerous headlines over the past several weeks that read “Trump is melting down.” He is clearly a man who is mentally and emotionally unstable and erratic, a potential danger to himself and to the country, if not the world. He is obviously unfit for office.
And yet, no one appears willing to do an intervention out of genuine concern for his health, or more importantly, to protect the safety and the security of the nation. Trump’s cabinet and Republicans in Congress are complicit in a collective insanity, following the lead of their madman “Dear Leader.” It is an abject failure of moral and constitutional duty under their oaths of office.
The recently concluded G-7 Summit in France should have been all the evidence they needed to feel compelled to act. As the Washington Post editorializes, Trump gives a stunning display of incoherence at the G-7:
ON FRIDAY, President Trump called President Xi Jinping of China an “enemy,” said “we don’t need China” and told U.S. companies they were “hereby ordered” to end their operations there. Over the next 72 hours, he cited a 1977 emergency powers law to back up his threat to end U.S. economic relations with Beijing; announced he did not intend to invoke the law; and, on Monday, declared Mr. Xi to be “a great leader” and “a brilliant man” with whom his administration would probably soon strike a trade deal. It was, all in all, a stunning display of incoherence — even by Mr. Trump’s standards — that encapsulated his performance at the Group of Seven summit.
Trump claimed China asked for renewed trade talks: “China called last night our top trade people and said, ‘Let’s get back to the table.’ This must have been one of his well-documented mystery phone calls that never happened. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang disputed Trump’s claim that such phone conversations had taken place. “I am not aware of the phone calls over the weekend you mentioned,” he said in response to a question at a Monday press briefing. “What I can say is that the trade differences should be solved through dialogue and consultation.“
Mr. Trump’s conflicting statements on China were far from the only puzzlements of his stay in Biarritz, France. He repeatedly touted what he said was a trade deal with Japan, only to be contradicted by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and the Japanese foreign ministry, which said the negotiations were at a preliminary stage. He said there was “tremendous unity” in his talks with the other six leaders, though officials said the U.S. delegation blocked consensus on trade and other issues. Mr. Trump skipped a meeting on climate change – [As CNN’s Jim Sciutto pointed out, both German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi were in the climate change meeting. (There’s visual evidence!) That fact tells us the White House story is bogus] – and his pitch to restore Russia to the group was flatly rejected by Germany and Britain, among others.
French President Emmanuel Macron made a valiant effort to use the summit to jump-start negotiations between the United States and Iran, even inviting Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif to Biarritz. Mr. Trump responded with more confusion: After allowing that Mr. Macron’s suggestion of a summit between him and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani within weeks was possible, he went on to cite conditions for a deal different — and less stringent — from those previously outlined by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Mr. Trump lambasted President Barack Obama for striking a deal that granted Iran economic concessions, then suggested that he would support new loans for Tehran if talks got underway.
Mr. Rouhani suggested in a speech Monday that he was open to negotiations, so perhaps something will come from Mr. Macron’s initiative. But there was no way to judge from Mr. Trump’s remarks whether he was seriously contemplating a change of tack on Iran — just as it was anyone’s guess whether he had second thoughts about the trade war he started with China, as he suggested Sunday, or merely wished he had raised tariffs even higher, as his staff later said.
The Post reporters continue, Sixty-eight minutes in Biarritz: A glimpse into Trump’s unorthodox mind:
President Trump stood on foreign soil at the close of the Group of Seven summit here and trashed his predecessor. He bragged about his personal properties from the presidential podium and suggested that he will hold next year’s G-7 gathering at his Doral golf course in Florida, which has “incredible” conference rooms and “magnificent” bungalows.
And he defended both Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong Un, suggesting that the Russian strongman deserves an invite to future G-7 summits and that the North Korean dictator is an honorable man who will not let Trump down.
Trump claimed that first lady Melania Trump has “gotten to know” North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, prompting the White House to clarify that the two have never met. After Trump claims first lady has ‘gotten to know’ Kim Jong Un, White House clarifies they’ve never met.
He attacked former president Barack Obama’s intellect while defending Putin for annexing part of Crimea — a move that drove Russia’s expulsion from what was then called the G-8. To many world leaders, Putin’s move was illegal and had nothing to do with Obama. To Trump, it showed that his predecessor was a sucker and that criticizing him (along with former vice president “Sleepy Joe” Biden, in Trump’s words) was fair banter. He veered into a similar diatribe on Obama not enforcing a “red line” in Syria – where Russian troops are also present – though he was not queried on the topic.
“President Putin outsmarted President Obama,” Trump said, calling it “very embarrassing” for Obama. The realpolitik of the world, he said, meant Russia should be in the room at future summits. And he said he would like to invite Putin next year to his golf course, claiming without evidence that other leaders agreed with his predilection — even as they said otherwise.
As The Post’s Eugene Robinson says, Trump’s Obama envy is getting even worse. You should take note that Trump has never once been critical of Vladimir Putin, for any reason.
Asked why he continued to falsely blame Obama for the annexation of Crimea, as he did almost a dozen times Monday, the president suggested that he knew the black journalist asking the question, Yamiche Alcindor of PBS News, had an ulterior motive. “I know you like President Obama,” he said, without saying how he knew that.
Because he’s a racist: “Everyone knows the brothers and sisters all hang together.”
And then Trump slipped into a sales pitch for his struggling Doral golf club in a blatant disregard of the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution.
At length, he boasted about his private properties. Trump refused to divest, unlike many of his predecessors, and has profited from an influx of Republican fundraisers and other political events. Questioned about the propriety of profiting from next year’s summit of world leaders, he batted down any concern.
“I don’t want to make money,” he said. “I don’t care about making money.”
His resort in Miami, he said, would make a terrific locale for the G-7 because of its bungalows, proximity to the airport, large ballrooms and substantial parking.
“Biggest ballrooms in Florida,” he said.
He offered an unproven claim, as he has done before, that the presidency has cost him $3 billion to $5 billion. He then moved on to praise his golf courses in the United Kingdom and Ireland. Seeming to change course, he moved into a soliloquy about the nomenclature of Europe.
“What’s England? What’s happening with England? They don’t use it too much anymore,” Trump says he told British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
He described both Iran and North Korea in terms of their real estate potential, saying the countries would want to deal with Trump because they sit on valuable, or gentrifying, properties.
“A location that’s a little rough neighborhood,” he said of Iran, in the middle of the war-torn Middle East. “But eventually it’s going to be a beautiful neighborhood.”
He showed no concern that the North Korean dictator had violated U.N. resolutions by firing missiles, instead saying that Kim would not personally disappoint Trump.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Tuesday he is concerned about the spate of short-range missile tests North Korea has launched in recent weeks, disagreeing with President Donald Trump, who has shrugged off their significance. Pompeo, Unlike Trump, Concerned About North Korea Missile Tests.
South Korea expressed “strong concern” on Wednesday that North Korea’s launch of two short-range ballistic missiles could harm efforts to build peace on the Korean Peninsula, its presidential Blue House said in a statement. South Korea expresses ‘strong concern’ over North Korean missile launch.
Japanese Prime Minister Abe also disputed Trump.
Amanda Marcotte writes at Salon that the “debate” over whether Donald Trump has a diagnosable psychological condition that renders him unfit for office has been heating up in the past couple of weeks, in response to our president acting even more like a raving nutcase than usual. Nuking the hurricane: Diagnosing Trump’s apparent mental illness isn’t the point (excerpt):
“Are members of the news media tiptoeing around obvious questions about Trump’s instability?” Brian Stelter of CNN wrote Monday morning, pointing out that Trump’s erratic, dishonest and combative behavior, long out of control, has been escalating.
Stelter’s piece addresses what is admittedly a real conundrum for journalists. On one hand, it’s screamingly obvious there is something deeply wrong with Donald Trump. On the other hand, there’s “an understandable aversion to diagnosing a person — any person — based on what’s only visible on television and Twitter.”
The truth, however, is that we do know a lot about Trump’s behavior, since he’s a whirling dervish of narcissism who provides an endless stream of observable information and witnesses. Psychologists who follow the news closely probably have more information about Trump than they do about most patients they diagnosis after an in-person consultation. His symptoms are abundant and inarguably point toward a major personality disorder. For instance, Trump checks off every single item on the sociopathy checklist, and has done so for the decades since he pushed himself into the public spotlight.
Some psychologists are comfortable pointing this out. Retired Harvard clinical psychiatrist Dr. Lance Dodes classified Trump as “an extremely successful sociopath” on MSNBC, referring to research showing that sociopathy is more common than many think in people who have executive roles in business.
Others, such as Dr. Allen Frances, a former chair of psychiatry at Duke University, continue to argue that this discussion only serves to stigmatize people with mental health conditions, most of whom are not raving monsters set on destroying the country in order to bolster their own egos.
“Calling Trump crazy hides the fact that we’re crazy for having elected him,” Frances argued to Stelter on CNN.
Frances’ comments point to the larger problem with this endless debate: Whether Trump is actually a diagnosable sociopath or whether he’s just providing an Oscar-worthy multi-decade performance for the cameras may not really be a meaningful distinction. What matters is that so many Americans are willing — and even eager — to vote for someone who acts this way.
Trump’s approval ratings never drop much below 40%. He got nearly 46% of the vote — less than Hillary Clinton did, but enough to win a majority in the Electoral College. A huge percentage of Republicans, who have disproportionate representation, are fully aware that Trump is a vile person in every way, and are not only fine with it, but actually seem to like him better because of that. for it. After all, putting a racist, misogynist ignoramus who appears to have no regard for any other person than himself in the highest office in the land is triggering the liberals, big-time. And making liberals cry is the central organizing principle of the modern American right.
Trump will never to sit down for a psychological evaluation that produces an official diagnosis [per the 25th Amendment]. So, in a sense, this discussion will never leave the realm of the hypothetical. But it’s hard to imagine that receiving a formal diagnosis of anti-social personality disorder or some other condition that explains Trump’s psychology would, at this point, make much of a dent with his supporters.
Trump and his supporters would likely greet a formal diagnosis in the same way they greet every news item that makes it clear that the man is tetched: Deny, deflect, defend.
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Trump’s fans already know he’s a confessed sexual predator and compulsive adulterer, and many of them have created elaborate justifications for why that makes him more, not less, qualified to be president. If the fact that someone is a sexual predator who has been credibly accused of rape isn’t a deal-breaker, than a formal diagnosis of a serious mental-health condition is unlikely to make a difference. It’ll just be dismissed as fake news, quibbled to death (Fox News would probably have a segment about how the technical term is “anti-social personality disorder,” not “sociopathy”), and even defended as a good thing. Kellyanne Conway would definitely tell reporters that it’s just another sign that the president has the ruthlessness necessary to get the job done.
The cause of Trump’s behavior — whether he is actually a sociopath or just so pampered and privileged that he acts like one — is ultimately not the real issue here. Even after he’s out of office (10 or 14 years from now, ha ha) we still have the problem that 40% of the American electorate country eagerly supported a man whose entire personality could be described as “unfit.” They did so for the ugliest possible reasons: Racism, sexism and a willingness to end democracy rather than share power with people who look different or come from different backgrounds. Even if we could get a diagnosis for Trump, what do we do about all the people who love him?