Flirts, then rushes off: We'll still be on part-time duty this week. As it now turns out, the new year at this award-winning site won't be starting until Monday, January 14.
We're looking forward to a new focus for the new year. But that new year won't start till next week.
For today, we want to direct your attention to yesterday's column by David Von Drehle, he of the Washington Post.
Good God! As he started, it seemed that Von Drehle was actually pulling the trigger! From his headline right through his opening paragraphs, it seemed that he was going to ask The Question The Press Corps Won't Ask.
Here's the way the column started, eye-catching headline included:
VON DREHLE (1/7/19): Let's talk to Trump's psychiatristPlaying off Donald J. Trump's ten millionth recent dumb remark, Von Drehle almost seemed to be heading toward a rumination on the state of the president's mental health!
The customary tsk-tsks and vapors erupted when President Trump opined on the state of mind of Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) during a New Year's Eve interview on Fox News. Asked whether Warren thinks she can beat him in 2020, Trump replied, "You'd have to ask her psychiatrist."
Trump's critics are so reflexively critical at this point that they can't recognize a great idea when they hear it. By all means, let's ask Warren's psychiatrist—but let's not stop with Warren. To the couch, Mr. President!
Granted, he'd adopted a somewhat comical tone. But as he continued, he actually offered this:
VON DREHLE (continuing directly): Love or hate him (or anything in between), no reasonable person can deny that Trump is a textbook example of narcissistic personality disorder. Reading the list of symptoms on the Mayo Clinic's website is like scrolling through the president's Twitter: "Require constant, excessive admiration," "exaggerate achievements and talents," "be preoccupied with . . . brilliance, beauty or the perfect mate," "monopolize conversations and belittle . . . people," "expect special favors and unquestioning compliance," "have an inability or unwillingness to recognize the needs and feelings of others.""Trump is a textbook example of narcissistic personality disorder?" To appearances, Von Drehle was throwing the so-called "Goldwater rule" under a refurbished version of the bus which once was known as the old Straight Talk Express.
It sounded like Von Drehle was prepared to address the possibility that Trump is "mentally ill" in some way! That would be a tricky and difficult conversation, but it almost seemed that Von Drehle was going there.
Sorry! As his column proceeds, Von Drehle pivots toward some straight-up funnin'. Soon, he's using such clinical terms as "cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs," and he's offering the tired old saw according to which anyone who reaches the White House has to be basically nuts. After all, look out for those daddy issues!
VON DREHLE: I've long believed that most presidents could keep a shrink working overtime. Imagine trying to heal Thomas Jefferson's bifurcated personality: half slavekeeper, half apostle of freedom. Did James Madison's tiny stature have anything to do with his blustering and blundering into war? Might Franklin Pierce and James Buchanan have avoided the Civil War if the first had been sober and the second free to express his apparent homosexuality?Bill Clinton never met his father. Indeed, even Obama is nuts!
And the daddy issues. Oh, my. Andrew Jackson never knew his father. Abraham Lincoln disdained his, coolly refusing to attend Thomas Lincoln's funeral. Franklin D. Roosevelt was a teenager when his invalid father died, and his domineering mother kept him on an allowance even in the White House. John F. Kennedy was, like his brothers, a product of his father's inexhaustible ambitions. Lyndon B. Johnson was haunted by his father's failures; Richard M. Nixon by his father's abusiveness; Ronald Reagan by his father's alcoholism. Bill Clinton never met his father, and Barack Obama's was almost entirely absent after the boy's toddler years.
And would any president other than George W. Bush have been as eager to turn 9/11 into a crusade to oust Saddam Hussein, the Iraqi dictator left in power by Bush's more cautious father?
By all accounts, Trump was the apple of his father's eye, and yet the president has spent his career trying to escape his Outer Borough roots and deny his debts to dad.
At this point, I wonder whether anyone who's not a bit off-kilter has what it takes to win and inhabit the awesome, awful office of the presidency...
In fact, you have to be nuts just to win the job! So Von Drehle says as he runs off and hides in the fringe of the woods.
The Goldwater rule always seemed like a good journalistic idea. Then, we got a president who, based on appearances, actually does seem to be some version of "mentally ill."
Von Drehle started by noting this fact, then turned straight to the funnin'. So it goes as our upper-end press corps averts its gaze from our roll toward the conflagration known to future anthropologists huddled in caves as "Mister Trump's Dispositive War."
Could it be that Donald J. Trump really is some version of "mentally ill?" Given such indications as those Von Drehle lists, we think that's the main question the modern "press" must confront.
Tomorrow, we'll visit the featured column on the front page of yesterday's New York Times' Sunday Review. As we do, we'll be exploring another way to avoid this ultimate question.