Is Trump some version of mentally ill?


We have a deep, serious problem:
On Tuesday evening, the New York Times' Nicholas Kristof appeared on CNN with Don Lemon.

We were struck by what Kristof said that night, and by what he fled from saying.

In his second segment with Kristof, Lemon played tape of Trump press secretary Sean Spicer discussing Trump's claim that 3-5 million illegal votes were cast in November's election.

On the videotape, Spicer struggled with reporters' questions about Trump's unfounded statement. After Lemon played tape of this session, he and Kristof engaged in a brief discussion.

That brief discussion by Kristof and Lemon shouldn't be overlooked. You can watch the tape here.

In the course of this discussion, Kristof floated the possibility that Donald J. Trump is "a crackpot." In his new column in today's Times, he floats the same idea.

We think that possibility should be directly discussed. If we run through the brief discussion between Lemon and Kristof, we'll see some of the ways the press will use to avoid confronting this matter.

After playing tape of Spicer, Lemon posed a question to Kristof. Kristof replied with a peculiar question of his own. Lemon then took a stand:
LEMON (1/24/17): So, Sean didn't answer the question. But what does that mean for democracy when the White House questions the legitimacy of the election?

KRISTOF: It's an astonishing moment. I mean, I don't know— Are you using the word "lie," or "falsehood?" What are you, what are you using?

LEMON: Yes. Yes. I mean, you have to use the word—you have to call it what it is.
Kristof asked a very peculiar question. Have you ever seen a journalist ask what words a channel is using?

It was our impression that Kristof was suggesting that there's a distinction between the two words he mentioned. A "falsehood," after all, is not the same thing as a "lie."

It was our impression that Kristof was asking if CNN preferred the use of one of these terms as opposed to the other. If that's what Kristof meant, it's fairly clear that Lemon misunderstood him.

Whatever! As you can see, Lemon urged his guest to be candid. As he continued, Kristof described a conversation which had occurred at the New York Times. It concerned the paper's decision to use the term "lie" when discussing Trump that day:
KRISTOF (continuing directly): And I mean, at the New York Times, we had this debate. We, in today's newspaper, we used the word "lie." And saying that about a president is an astonishing thing. There was some internal discussion about that.

But those who argued that one shouldn't use the word "lie" said, "Well, we don't know the president's intention. And it's only a lie if he knows it's wrong."
In that statement, Kristof seemed to say that some Timesmen were uncomfortable saying that Trump had "lied." In fairness, journalists should be careful about making that charge about anyone, not just about a president.

Kristof then said that those people at the Times had made an obvious point. If a speaker believes that some statement is true, you wouldn't normally say that the person has lied, even if it turns out that his statement is false.

Presumably, everybody understands that basic point of logic. But as he continued, Kristof seemed to introduce a new possibility into the discussion of Trump. Here's what he now said:
KRISTOF (continuing directly): But essentially, that's saying, "Well, you know, he may believe the moon is made of green cheese, so it's not a lie if he says it is." It's saying that the president is either a liar or a crackpot. And boy, those are unappetizing choices when describing the president of the United States.
Uh-oh! Kristof seemed to be suggesting this:

He seemed to suggest that Trump is making such crazy claims that a horrible possibility has come into view. It's possible that Trump is "a liar," he said. But it's also possible that Donald J. Trump is "a crackpot."

Did Kristof really mean to suggest that as a real possibility? Did he mean to suggest that Trump may not really be lying here—that he may be (some version of) crazy?

Our guess would be that Kristof was trying to suggest this possibility, while giving himself deniability about the "unappetizing" possibility he'd just put in play.

Was Kristof suggesting that Trump might be crazy? Consider what he wrote, for the second time, in this morning's column:

At the start of this morning's column, Kristof returns to the scene of the crime. He directly presents that same choice about Trump, then quickly hurries along. Here's how the column starts:
KRISTOF (1/26/17): Should we journalists use the word “lie” to describe President Trump’s most manifest falsehoods?

That debate has roiled the news world. The Times this week used the word “lie” in a front-page headline, and I agreed with that decision, but there’s a counterargument that lying requires an intention to deceive—and that Trump may actually believe his absurd falsehoods.

So in 2017 we reach a mortifying moment for a great democracy: We must decide whether our 45th president is a liar or a crackpot.

Yet the costliest presidential falsehoods and delusions are not the ones that people are talking about, such as those concerning the inauguration crowd or electoral fraud. The most horrific chicanery involves Trump’s new actions on women’s health that will cause deaths around the globe...
In that passage, Kristof directly offers a choice—President Trump may be a liar, or he may be "a crackpot!" He also floats the term "delusions," then quickly exits the scene, moving on to discussions of policy matters.

Let's return to Tuesday night's discussion on CNN. When Kristof spoke with Lemon, he seemed to float the idea that Trump might actually be a crackpot as opposed to being a liar. Lemon never showed any sign of hearing this suggestion:
LEMON (continuing directly): You know, as I said, it's really tough to call, because, and I've said this a number of times, I think it was Saturday night where we actually said on air, our very own Jim Sciutto, when we were talking about, you know, what he said at the CIA, what he said about the, you know, other crowds, Sean Spicer, and the president, "It's tough to call the president of the United States a liar." Because you want to respect the office.

But I think it does a disservice to the American people, and even to the president, and even to, you know, journalists, not to call, call it what it is. And it is a lie. And so, I mean, it's really tough to do.
Lemon never seemed to think that he'd been given the option of declaring Trump a "crackpot." He went ahead and said that Trump had told "lies," saying that reporting that fact is "really tough to do."

Our view? Based upon these two presentations, we think Kristof is floating the idea that President Trump may be some version of diagnosable / mentally unwell / crazy. We also think that Kristof is trying to provide himself deniability. If his suggestion meets with disfavor, he wants to be able to say that he never meant that at all.

In our view, it seems clear that something does seems to be wrong with Trump's mental functioning. Is this new American president some version of "mentally ill?"

In our view, we face a deep, serious problem. At present, the children are pretending to be tough by calling out the president's "lies." It seems to us that a serious discussion of Donald J. Trump needs to move on to that second possibility—to a possibility Nicholas Kristof has now floated two times.

President Trump seems unwell. However unappetizing or tough it may be, "patriots" need to say so.


  1. "We also think that Kristof is trying to provide himself deniability. If his suggestion meets with disfavor, he wants to be able to say that he never meant that at all."

    He's uncomfortable, and wants to be careful. I see nothing wrong here. Still, within a week, many are coming to believe that Trump is mentally ill. Delusional may be the most accurate word.

    I know one thing, as real as gravity, he has access to the nuclear codes.

  2. One thing I keep wondering: why does no one ever ask "why" Trump believes millions of illegal aliens voted illegally? The answer could be bluster, or it could be very interesting. You'd think the media would figure out by now stirring this pot with much politeness and deference would be profitable for them.

    1. He thinks people voted illegally because a friend who is friends with the golfer Bernard Langer told him that he thought that he saw "illegals" voting using provisional ballots in Miami, FL. At first, Trump claimed that it was Langer who relayed the anecdote to him, but Langer's daughter, when asked to comment on the story said Langer and Trump are not acquaintances.

    2. The belief serves him so he will promote it until proven false. That's what he does. It is strategic, whether effective or not. So far his base was willing to take what he says with an ocean of salt. Not unusual in this polarized climate. His opponents cling to a belief that the Buzzfeed document was reliable.

  3. The man told everybody the election was rigged, he said why bother with election he already won and he said he had (silent) voters. No one took him seriously. May be he was begging the nation to stop the madness,to his credit, but nobody listen. He is not the one to blame.

  4. If you listen to Trump, he frequently says crazy-sounding things. But, if you look at his actions, they're not crazy at all (although liberals would disapprove of many things he's doing.) Instapundit (Glenn Reynolds) has a unique explanation of Trump's crazy statements.
    Trump is playing with the press: He's gaslighting them and they fall for it every time.

    1. Mental illness can be summarized as an inability to adapt to a reality. Trump is skeptical, not heavily informed on most issues, and appears to adapt, quickly in some cases, to realities without any negative effect on his psyche. His media opponents are having trouble and we should be worried about them.

    2. "But, if you look at his actions, they're not crazy at all...'

      Really? Well if you say so, Dr, Strangelove.

    3. Lewis -- I invite you to provide a list of the many crazy actions taken by Trump.

    4. David in Cal, why bother? Whenever you are presented with facts that don't conform to your belief system, you either ignore them, or vehemently deny them.

    5. Wife beating, cereal phyisical abuse of women, "she was married I tried to fuck her" speech, losing 9 billion dollars in Atlantic City, appearing in the movie "Ghost Can't Do It", getting bankrolled by the old Stalinists of Russia, claiming a Wall on the Mexican boarder is a good idea, thinking Mexico will pay for it,

    6. "getting bankrolled by the old Stalinists of Russia"

      Typical Greg, showing off his own delusions while trying to take down delusional Trump!

    7. Apparently DinC thinks "gaslighting" the press is perfectly normal acceptable behavior for the leader of the free world.

      But he is not gaslighting the press, he is a delusional narcissistic lunatic, who wasted the first week of his presidency going on a hissy fit over the crowd size at his inauguration

      Trump pressured parks chief for photos to prove 'media lied' about inauguration crowd – report

      - Post story came as reports suggested Trump had been obsessed with stories that accurately said inauguration had noticeably smaller crowd than Obama’s in 2009.

      "In a Saturday phone call, the president told Michael Reynolds, acting NPS director, that he wanted to see more photos because he thought they could show that the attendance at his Friday swearing-in ceremonies at the National Mall was above average, three sources with knowledge of the conversation told the Post."

      This isn't the Bastard President gaslighting the press, this is an unfit deranged lunatic abusing his power obsessing over a triviality.

      ....and then another hissy fit making baseless unfounded allegations of massive illegal voting.

    8. Yes, of course David. The Emperor is parading down the avenue stark naked and demanding everyone compliment him on his beautiful new wardrobe, and you don't know what to say until Glenn Reynolds throws you a lifeline and you immediately decide that this is all part of the Emperor's brilliant "foxy" strategy. You're pathetic.

    9. maybe he is smart as a fox and trumping up all the BS about crowd size, illegal voting, etc to distract from what is going on behind the come this possibility is never considered. and to be honest, he is only doing what he said he would do over and over again during the campaign...I don't know why everyone is so surprised, unless the just didn't believe he was actually going to do it

  5. Mayo Clinic says "a mental health concern becomes a mental illness when ongoing signs and symptoms cause frequent stress and affect your ability to function."

    Trump is a billionaire who has had no problem functioning over a lifetime under stressful conditions, who raised exceedingly normal and ethical children, and who functioned himself into the White House.

    The above definition doesn't say mental illness includes affecting others' ability to function and causing others stress. There might be a mental illness involved in Trump controversies but it isn't on the part of the blunt, non-intellectual showman who has no political instincts of the kind we're used to, that include careful study before offering cautious thoughts on an issue. Trump derangement syndrome is real.

  6. The majority of Americans believe Jesus rose from the dead without any proof and against everything they accept to be true of the physical world. Marxists will declare such people mentally ill.

    A preference for an opinion on an open question, especially an opinion from which you stand to benefit and that is opposed by your political enemies, is normal.

    It happens even with closed questions. This is why Black Lives Matter and the media that support them continuously lie about police.

  7. Look at what Trump has accomplished, with his preposterous claim of 5 million illegal votes. The subject of illdgal votes has stayed in the news. That coverage encourages public support for a study of illegal voting.

    Let's suppose that there really are significant illegal votes, say half a million, mostly for Democrats. Then a study could lead to reforms that reduce Democratic vote totals by hundreds of thousands.

    In short, I think Trump is lying in order to build support for a study of illegal voting. That's not crazy, it's "crazy like a fox." P.S. President Obama also lied to get support for something he wanted, namely the ACA. Nobody thought that was crazy.

    1. David, putting aside the fact that you repeat falsehoods here like other people breathe, what Trump has accomplished is being the least popular incoming president in history. That is directly because of things like Trump lying about illegal votes. As a liberal, I say more Trump, he's single handedly destroying himself and the Republican party with his shameful behavior.

    2. You're a good little storm trooper DinC. You will rationalize any bizarre outrageous divisive behavior of this madman. He's the leader of our country with the biggest bully pulpit of anyone on the face of the planet. He doesn't have to trick the country into talking about an issue if he wants to put it on the agenda.

      And if the Bastard President is so "crazy like a fox", how come the Republican controlled House plans to do nothing about this?


      On the voter fraud issue, that really happens at the county level. I don't see any evidence," he told reporters at the congressional Republican retreat in Philadelphia. "But the President has 100,000 people at the Department of Justice and if he wants to have an investigation, have at it. I just don't see any evidence of it."

      "The oversight committee is not planning to do anything with it. If the President sees that, he's got 100,000 he can task with doing that," Chaffetz said.

  8. David, David, David. Getting health insurance coverage for millions of Americans was more than "something Obama wanted". It was an action to alleviate a national tragedy.
    States have investigated illegal voting over and over and found it was a minuscule issue, and not a threat to democracy.
    Talk about false equivalence!

    1. Equating ACA with crowd size isn't a good comparison. ACA mattered, crowd size doess't matter. So Obama's lies about ACA were worse then Trump's lies about crowd size.

      From CNN: The head of the NAACP warned Thursday that his group will "resist" if President Donald Trump goes forward with his "major investigation" into voter fraud.

      Why resist if there's no fraud to be found? Sounds to me as if the NAACP is concerned that an investigation might find something.

    2. BTW gravymeister, how many investigations of illegal voting included a check of whether the voters were US citizens? AFAIK the only one was the Old Dominion study, which pointed to a possibility of lots of voter fraud.

    3. David. I have lived in Arizona for 40 years. I have been a poll worker for 4 elections. Illegal aliens stay as far away from government entities as they can for fear of discovery. This has been well established by police, 911 operators and a host of other government agencies. Searching for illegal aliens or felons voting is a fool's errand. Check with local officials in California.

    4. David, Obama did not lie about ACA. In fact you are lying.

    5. Let's have an investigation into illegal voting and prove Trump wrong.

    6. Once again, DinC badly misrepresents -

      Cornell William Brooks, president and CEO of the NAACP,said nothing about resisting an investigation.

      What he wants is for your despicable deplorable Confederate party to stop fucking with the right to vote of the people he represents.
      Of course we know that is the main objective here, and the evidence is pretty clear the republican party is systematically working to suppress the vote of AA, latinos and young people. They know with certainty that is the only way they can cling to power.

      "We have seen our rights denied as Americans. Particularly seniors, African-Americans, Latinos and younger people," Brooks said. "So, if the President insists upon conducting an investigation into voter fraud as a pretext for voter suppression, the NAACP, along with millions of Americans of every human heritage, will resist. We will push back."

    7. Fair catch, mm. I was relying on the CNN headline. The article did say what you quoted.

    8. gravymeister -- thanks for your input. I suspect that things may be different in CA, because of five factors coming together
      -- State is controlled by Dems
      -- There are large numbers of illegal immigrants
      -- It's really easy for a non-citizen to register to vote when getting a drivers' license.
      -- Most non-citizen voters here are Dems
      -- It serves the interest of the Dems to have non-citizens vote.

      My suspicions may be totally wrong, but I would like to see a good study done.

  9. He is lying. He is a con man and thats what they do.

  10. I really do think Trump has some kind of personality disorder and I believe a percentage of his diehard supporters are also mentally unwell. He definitely is the most dangerous man in the world right now.

  11. Bob and Keith Olbermann on the same page. Trump the uniter.

  12. For the love of God, this is why most normal people distrust and hate the press corpse as much as they do politicians (or insane businessmen elected president).

    How much tap-dancing around the truth does it take to waste seemingly endless amounts of time trying to parse the difference between a "falsehood" and a "lie" based on a speaker's intentions? The moment you start twisting yourself into a pretzel, giving the benefit of the doubt to so-called "alternative facts" and the question of whether a public figure is playing with a full deck or not, you stop serving your public audience.

    Isn't it enough to simply conclude, this man is lying because he's been given ample evidence -- even proof -- that his previous statements were false and yet he continues to double down on the falsehoods as though they are real facts?

    It isn't that compli-damn-cated, folks.

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