The question is hard to avoid: Is Donald Trump mentally ill, in a destructive way?
It's hard to avoid the question. It also hard to know how the "press corps" could handle a question like that, or how that question can fit inside a White House campaign.
Various pundits are taking different positions on what was most egregious about Trump's behavior last night. (Others are taking a standard approach, pretending not to notice what happened.) We see a competition building between two nominees:
1) Trump's use of the new verb, "schlonged," with reference to Hillary Clinton, and 2) his apparent statement that he finds it "disgusting" that Candidate Clinton had to take a bathroom break during last weekend's debate.
Personally, we don't think either one of those choices represents Trump's most egregious behavior.
What was worst about Trump's behavior last night? We'd start with his extensive public musing about whether he would ever kill some journalists, as Vladimir Putin has allegedly done. During his speech in Grand Rapids, he mused about the possibility at substantial length:
TRUMP (12/21/15): You know, it's Russia, after all. Somebody said, "Are you at all offended that [Putin] said nice things about you?"Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! Trump seemed to give a lot of thought to the question of whether he'd actually kill some reporters.
I said no, no. And they They said, "Oh, Trump should have been much nastier, that's terrible." And then they said, "You know, he's killed reporters."
And I don't like that. I'm totally against that.
By the way, I hate some of these people [pointing to reporters]. But I'd never kill them.
I hate them. No, I think—
No, these people— Honestly. I'll be honest. I'll be honest.
I would never kill them. I would never do that.
Aaaaah. Let's see [seeming to reconsider]. Waaaaaa— [can't make up his mind]
No, I wouldn't. I would never kill them. But I do hate them.
And some of them are such lying, disgusting people.
[CHEERS AND APPLAUSE]
It's true. It's true. It's true.
But I would never kill them and anybody that does, I think it would be despicable.
In the end, he decided he wouldn't, even though they're disgusting people. From there, Trump continued to speculate about whether Putin really did kill some reporters.
To watch Trump's musings, click here.
Trump's behavior here was astounding. It only takes one crazy person to act on the signal he would have seemed to be sending. One wonders if Trump tears the wings off bugs as soon as his speeches are through.
For our money, Trump's rumination on the possibility of killing reporters was his most appalling behavior last night. After that, we turn to his comments on Clinton's "disgusting" behavior, and on a possible interpretation of his remarks which was suggested by Ben Schreckinger at Politico.
With apologies, it goes like this:
SCHRECKINGER (12/21/15): Donald Trump is taking his criticism of Hillary Clinton into new territory.Trump "has insinuated she is in a lesbian relationship with [a] close aide?" Assuming the statement is true about Trump, we weren't aware that Trump has done that. Could that explain his weird remarks last night about Clinton's "disgusting" behavior?
The Republican front-runner mocked his Democratic counterpart for a “disgusting” bathroom trip she made during Saturday night’s debate, and said Barack Obama “schlonged” her in the 2008 primaries at a raucous rally here on Monday night.
For Trump—who comments often on Clinton’s penchant for pantsuits, has insinuated she is in a lesbian relationship with close aide Huma Abedin and insists she doesn’t have “the strength or the stamina” to be president—Monday’s remarks take his focus on her personal life to a new level of intimacy.
Trump went on and on about how "disgusting" Clinton's conduct had been—so disgusting that he didn't want to discuss it. His coy remarks made no apparent sense if he was simply discussing a bathroom break.
Was Trump trying to put a different thought into people's heads? We have no idea. That said, it's worth remembering that this general claim—the claim that Hillary Clinton is the world's most gigantic lesbo—was quite active during the 1990s, with bottom feeders like Gennifer Flowers pimping the claim all around.
Rather than denounce Flowers as the consummate low life she was, liberal stars like Frank Rich ended up hailing her for her manifest moral greatness. By the late 1990s, everyone agreed to pretend that Flowers was telling the truth about the horrific Bill Clinton, even though her claims about their "torrid affair" were riddled with embarrassing factual errors.
(On August 1999, Chris Matthews gave Flowers a full half hour on Hardball to discuss the Clintons' many murders. Later that month, she got a full hour on Hannity & Colmes, which she used to discuss Hillary Clinton's giant lesboism along with all the murders. The entire mainstream "press corps" pretended not to notice.)
This is part of the actual story of our recent political history, a story people like Paul Krugman are never going to tell you. By the rules of the game, people like Rich and Matthews and all the others simply must be protected. The code of silence is endless and strong within this dimwitted, Mammon-thick guild.
It may be that the low life Trump was trying to bring that old tale back to life. At any rate, it's important to remember that this craziness didn't begin with Trump.
For years, Matthews played the Donald Trump role when he was working for his zillionaire boss, Jack Welch. The entire liberal world has always agreed to pretend that none of this ever occurred. Among other problems, your favorite stars have always wanted to go on Matthews' show! (He's Rachel's "beloved friend.")
Is Donald Trump mentally ill? More and more, it's hard to feel confident that he isn't. That said, the crazy conduct he is producing was destroying our culture long ago. Some of our favorite stars were cast in the role of Donald Trump before Trump assumed the role.
Your big stars are telling you that you should hate Trump's voters. They will never tell you the story behind the nadir we've reached.