Marcus questions Trump's "mental health!"


Post scribe gets it right:
Should we the people be concerned about Donald J. Trump's mental health?

In our view, the answer is obvious—yes. We think Trump's behavior and thinking are notably strange. If we plan to have a serious national discourse, we think it's time to take note of this disturbing fact.

As we noted last Thursday and also last Friday, it was our impression last week that Nicholas Kristof and Carl Bernstein were inching in the direction of some such declaration. In Sunday morning's Washington Post, Ruth Marcus dispensed with the winks and suggestions.

Marcus came right out and said it—we the people should be concerned about Trump's mental health..

In our view, Marcus got it right. Let's review what she said:

In hard copy, Marcus' column bore this headline: "An alarmingly erratic first week." As her actual column began, so did the semi-psychiatric language:
MARCUS (1/29/17): Week One of the Trump administration was among the most alarming in the history of the American presidency.

There have been scarier weeks for the country, certainly
—the Cuban missile crisis and the Sept. 11 attacks. There have been more tragic ones—the Sept. 11 attacks again, the terrible toll of wartime, the horror of four presidential assassinations.

There have been occasions of terrible presidential judgment—Franklin D. Roosevelt’s order to detain U.S. citizens and noncitizens of Japanese descent during World War II. And there have been moments of looming constitutional crisis—during Watergate alone, the Saturday Night Massacre, the showdown with the Supreme Court over the release of the tapes, the impeachment inquiry that resulted in Richard Nixon’s resignation.

But the first week of the Trump presidency was alarming in a different way, because the frightening part involved the president’s own erratic, even bizarre, behavior.
According to Marcus, Trump's behavior has been "erratic" and "bizarre," to the point of being frightening.

A bit later, she used semi-psychiatric language again, as Kristof and Bernstein had done:
MARCUS: And so it went, each day feeling scarier than the one before, and Trump’s sycophantic aides modeling his own fact-free rants—press secretary Sean Spicer’s falsehood-filled briefing-room tirade, counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway’s brazen defense of “alternative facts,” chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon’s brutish admonition to the media to “keep its mouth shut.”

Trump himself outdid his petty obsession with crowd size with his delusional obsession with popular-vote fraud, first behind closed doors with incredulous congressional leaders, then for all the world to watch in his ABC interview. What was once delusional ego-salving now appears headed for official inquiry.


You will notice that my lament about the week is largely devoid of ideological content. That is not because his policy moves are not appalling—they are. But you don’t have to disagree with Trump’s policies to be rattled to the core by his unhinged behavior. Many congressional Republicans privately express concerns that range from apprehension to outright dread.
According to Marcus, Trump's rants have involved some petty obsessions, and others she termed "delusional." We should be "rattled to the core," she said, by Trump's "unhinged behavior."

As Bernstein did on two occasions last week, Marcus suggested that congressional Republicans have been expressing concern (to the point of "outright dread") about Trump's erratic, unhinged behavior. Finally, as she ended her column, she made her meaning clear through use of an uncoded term:
MARCUS: There have been reasons to worry about other presidents’ mental health. Lyndon B. Johnson’s senior aides were so concerned about his behavior that they consulted psychiatrists. Nixon in the throes of Watergate was drunk and unstable, so much so that his defense secretary, James Schlesinger, reportedly ordered the military not to respond to White House orders without approval from him or the secretary of state. Still, other presidents’ outbursts occurred behind closed doors, and there was some hope that aides would intervene. Trump’s inner circle seems divided between enablers and inciters.

What is to be done? In a meeting last week with The Post editorial board, Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), chair of the House Oversight Committee, said he was weighing legislation to require presidents to undergo an independent medical examination, including for mental health. Chaffetz cautioned that he wasn’t “talking about some of the rhetoric that’s flying around” about Trump. Still, he said, “If you’re going to have your hands on the nuclear codes, you should probably know what kind of mental state you’re in.”

That can’t happen soon enough.
Marcus made her meaning fairly clear. We should be concerned, even frightened, she said, about Trump's "mental health."

We agree with that assessment. Having said that, let's add this:

For fifty years, the country has been well served by the so-called "Goldwater rule." As part of that informal agreement, people have generally avoided making psychiatry part of the political discourse.

That rule served us well for fifty years. In the past few years, the rule has started to fail us.

Make no mistake—if the Goldwater rule is abandoned, it will create a new Babel. Every crackpot and his crazy uncle will soon be offering psychiatric assessments of every major pol.

Despite that fact, we think it's good that Marcus has spoken as clearly as this. Because of his delusional thinking and weird behavior, Donald Trump strikes us as dangerous. Judging from appearances, he has problems with his mental health—and he has the nation's nuclear codes.

It seems to us that this situation should be discussed. We think other sensible scribes should build upon Marcus' platform.

Tomorrow: We consider a few percentages


  1. Who is this Chaffetz fellow?

    "Chaffetz was born in Los Gatos, California, and was raised in California,[1] Arizona[2] and Colorado with his younger brother Alex.[citation needed] His father, John A. Chaffetz (1935–2012),[3] was a Jewish businessman"

    Everyone time.

  2. "Make no mistake—if the Goldwater rule is abandoned, it will create a new Babel. Every crackpot and his crazy uncle will soon be offering psychiatric assessments of every major pol."

    You mean like the yammerers on Fox who declared that Obama exhibited all the signs of narcissistic personality disorder? Or the ones who insisted that he was driven by anticolonial resentments? Or the ones who said he was driven by his admiration for his communist father figure? Or the ones who simply said he hated white people?

    How about the New York Times' eminent columnist who told her readers that Al Gore was "so feminized he was practically lactating"? Or the cable TV pundit who saw sexual depravity in the number of buttons on Gore's suit jacket?

    Yes, if it ever, ever happens that we start mixing faux-psychology with politics, bad things might happen.

  3. We have gone from Trump is: (a) mistaken, (b) lying, to (c) out of touch with reality. I think we are making progress.

  4. From the perspective of the Heritage Foundation to help the rich and stomp the blahs; and from Bannon's desire to destroy all political parties and news outlets, things seem to be running smoothly. What's all this crazy talk?

    1. Exactly! Trumpocalypse seems to be proceeding apace.

  5. This is the normal progression of increasingly unhinged attempts to turn the population against conservative presidents. Insanity, check. Trump will be president for 8 years.

    "First and foremost, George W. Bush is a Narcissistic Personality Disorder. What this means, mostly, is that he has rather desperate insecurities about himself, and compensates by constructing a grandiose self-image. Most of his relationships are either mirroring relationships--people who flatter him and reinforce his grandiosity--or idealized self-objects--people that he himself thinks alot of, and hence feels flattered by his association. Some likely perform both functions. Hence his weakness for sycophants like Harriet Miers, and powerful personalities like Dick Cheney.

    Even as a narcissist, Bush knows he isn't a great intellect, and compensates by dismissing the value of intellect altogether. Hence his disses of Gore's bookishness, and any other intellectual that isn't kissing his ass. Bush knows that his greatest personal strength is projecting personal affability, and tries to utilize it even in the most inappropriate settings. That's why he gives impromptu backrubs to the German Chancellor in a diploamtic meeting--he's insecure intellectually, and tries to make everyone into a "buddy" so he can feel more secure. (Pathetic, isn't it?)

    The most disturbing aspect about narcissists, however, is their pathological inability to empathize with others, with the exception of those who either mirror them, or whom they idealize. Hence Bush's horrifying insensitivity to the Katrina victims, his callous jokes when visiting greivously injured soldiers, and numerous other instances. The guy simply has no capacity to feel for others in that way. When LBJ was losing Vietnam, he developed a haunted expression that anybody could recognize as indicative of underlying anguish. For all his faults, you just knew he was losing sleep over it. By the same token, we know just as well that Bush isn't losing any sleep over dead American soldiers, to say nothing of dead Iraqis. He didn't exhibit any sign of significant concern until his own political popularity was sliding--because THAT'S something he can definitely feel."

    "Anyone familiar with the psychological profile put forth in my book, Bush on the Couch, shouldn’t be surprised. So much of what Bush has done—drinking, stopping drinking, and embracing faith, certainty, physical discipline, and ultimately sadism—can be traced to his desperate attempt to silence the voices that have plagued him since childhood.
    On Tuesday morning, we heard both how profoundly those voices have troubled him, and how punishing they sound to his fragile, frightened self. On Thursday, back on script, the voices were silenced. The Bush who read the prepared remarks on Thursday exuded control as dramatically as the Bush who fended for himself on Tuesday lacked it."

    1. Arguably, Bush was our worst modern president until now. This sounds like a fairly astute analysis of G.W., who now paints self-portraits of himself in the shower and does next to nothing to improve the world (contrast with Clinton and Carter).

      Trump is more disordered, in my opinion, than G.W. Bush, but that doesn't make Bush exemplary. Historians will eventually tell us how we got into this mess, but that doesn't make Trump any less pathological.

      We will only have 8 years of Trump if elections are abolished. Trump is 70. He isn't going to be mentally competent and physically healthy for 8 more years, if he is now (which I doubt). His children are protecting him and shielding him from public scrutiny.

      The question is whether he will take our democracy down with him.

    2. Look at the left wing pecksniffians now diagnosing people all over the place based on their shocking hobbies and their politics.

    3. Now we have to spend a week deciding whether Trump is "people" or not. Curse you!

    4. What did you think of Bush dancing and giggling in front of the families of murdered Dallas cops at their funeral. Can you imagine the reaction if a Democrat did that? Repubs just yawned.

    5. Bush was member of one of the most powerful families in the country. Not sure about his psychology but one thing is for sure he didn't give a shit. He never did and nerve had to. He was an oligarch. Turned out to be a horrible prez too.

    6. Gloucon X, What did you make of Obama blaming police officers for their own murder at their funeral? It was the most revolting thing I've ever seen a politician do. Made all the worse by his complicity in their murders and the attitudes of irrational fear he created.

      "But we know -- but, America, we know that bias remains. We know it. Whether you are black or white or Hispanic or Asian or Native American or of Middle Eastern descent, we have all seen this bigotry in our own lives at some point. We’ve heard it at times in our own homes. If we’re honest, perhaps we’ve heard prejudice in our own heads and felt it in our own hearts. We know that. And while some suffer far more under racism’s burden, some feel to a far greater extent discrimination’s sting. Although most of us do our best to guard against it and teach our children better, none of us is entirely innocent. No institution is entirely immune. And that includes our police departments. We know this.

      And so when African Americans from all walks of life, from different communities across the country, voice a growing despair over what they perceive to be unequal treatment; when study after study shows that whites and people of color experience the criminal justice system differently, so that if you’re black you’re more likely to be pulled over or searched or arrested, more likely to get longer sentences, more likely to get the death penalty for the same crime; when mothers and fathers raise their kids right and have “the talk” about how to respond if stopped by a police officer -- “yes, sir,” “no, sir” -- but still fear that something terrible may happen when their child walks out the door, still fear that kids being stupid and not quite doing things right might end in tragedy -- when all this takes place more than 50 years after the passage of the Civil Rights Act, we cannot simply turn away and dismiss those in peaceful protest as troublemakers or paranoid. We can’t simply dismiss it as a symptom of political correctness or reverse racism. To have your experience denied like that, dismissed by those in authority, dismissed perhaps even by your white friends and coworkers and fellow church members again and again and again -- it hurts. Surely we can see that, all of us."

    7. Anon 9:17 that made me chuckle!

    8. 1:49 Obama did not blame the police for their own murder and that is not the perception by people other than right wing extremists. Obama did courageously try to bring two groups together, the police and those concerned about police brutality in the black community. He expressed both empathy for the Dallas tragedy, as well as the reality of unjustified police shootings of black people.

      Obama at the Dallas funeral said the shooting was "an act not just of demented violence but of racial hatred" and also said "We ask the police to do too much, and we ask too little of ourselves".

      On the other hand, Bush looked like a 5 year old. Bush didn't just dance, he mugged and laughed and looked around with childish curiosity. It is not clear he was aware he was at a funeral. At one point Michelle Obama leaned in and whispered something to Bush, and he reacted with a big "oooooh" and then got less goofy. I wonder if Michelle said something like "hey, this is a funeral George." The video is amusing:

  6. I repeat, Trump's words often sound bizarre, but not his actions. So far, as President he has consistently fulfilled campaign promises.

    On second thought, maybe that's bizarre behavior. Presidents are expected to dodge their campaign promises. Maybe it's crazy for a President honestly fulfill them.

    1. And sometimes I wonder about thee.

    2. "as President he has consistently fulfilled campaign promises."

      He has appointed cabinet people who are planning to mess with social security and medicare, which Trump promised to leave alone.

      He has promised to replace ACA with something better, something wonderful, that will keep everyone insured, even those with preexisting conditions, keep kids on their parents plans up to age 26, cover everyone everywhere more cheaply than ACA, and provide the bestest health care ever. He is letting Republicans dismantle ACA without proposing any replacement so far.

      He has changed his mind about NATO (a good thing, but not consistent with his campaign promises).

      He isn't putting Hillary in jail (another good thing).

      The Democrats have done more to fix infrastructure so far than Trump has. He is preoccupied with hating on muslims and journalists.

      He has appointed the biggest group of incompetents ever assembled and is calling them his staff and cabinet. Not what he promised when he said drain the swamp -- Wall Street and Exxon cronies, billionaires and racists.

      But now we know which promises you care most about, David.

    3. Maybe it's crazy for a President honestly fulfill them.

      Mexico is going to pay for the wall.

    4. What the president says matters. You know that D in C. The 3-5 million illegal votes is an indefensible lie and utterly immoral.

    5. If it's that outrageous then the responsible thing to do is prove him wrong through an investigation to find out just how many votes Democrats won through fraud.

  7. Tell someone in 1991 that a major candidate for president who will be under intense scrutiny by the opposition for any misdeed has a a lack of control and judgment of an extreme that will cause him to have sex with 21 year old interns in the Oval Office and lie about it on camera. He will be disqualified as dangerously blackmailable and maybe involuntarily committed on the spot.

    1. Troll somewhere else.

    2. Or at least troll coherently.

    3. That never happened though. You may be thinking about a 22 year old White House employee though. 21 year old intem? No.

    4. So the CEO is having sex with a 22 year old entry level employee who started as an intern. That makes it much better.

    5. At a certain point of hair splitting it's better for your argument to remain silent. Foreknowledge of what Clinton eventually did would have led anyone to declare him unfit to serve and probably certifiable.

    6. You're kidding , right? Many presidents have had affairs in the White House, it is common and not in the least disqualifying. Even after Republicans tried their best to bring Clinton down, he remains one of the most respected and popular presidents, in stark contrast with Trump who is the least popular president in history at this point in his term.

  8. With Tillerson at State and a general know as "Mad Dog" we can hope for a coup at some point.

  9. It's not that we have Chancy the gardener for president, which was so brilliantly predicted by Being There, it's that Chancy has turned out quite belligerent and not at all harmless. I mind you, people behind the scenes are still running things, but Chancy himself is...well, unhinged.

  10. IMHO the Goldwater Rule is most important to the psychiatrist community. We're always going to have lay persons asserting the Trump is insane or that Hillary is a congenital liar. Everyone knows that such "diagnoses" aren't meant to be scientific.

    But, psychiatrists are supposed to be scientific. In reality, psychiatrists can't really diagonose someone they're never met. They have trouble enough getting sanity evaluations for criminal defendants right. So, when some psychiatrist gives a bullsh*t opinion of the sanity of some public figure, that unprofessional behavior hurts the reputation entire community of psychiatrists.

    1. If Trump is sane, why does he keep doing insane things?

      Do you think psychiatrists worry about whether you think they are being professional? They wouldn't be saying what they have about Trump if they were not seriously concerned about his impact on our nation. We all are -- except guys like you who think everything is going well. You should be worrying about what's wrong with you. If you weren't a paid troll, you would have a major screw loose yourself.

    2. Psychologists are as credible as fortune tellers and psychiatrists, aside from a general knowledge of what pill goes with what behavior, are no more reliable. They will say anything they are hired to say in a criminal case and most of their "expertise" should be dismissed by a thinking person. You can usually identify a low information voter by how impressed they are by those dubious professions. Critical thinking isn't a strong suit for the left anymore. Look into the political ideology of any who have diagnosed a politician and you will find that they have a political axe to grind.

    3. Open up the asylums. It's impossible to tell now if someone is crazy, according to the lunatic Bastard President's apologists.

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