FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 6, 2020
Plays ball with the MSM: Luckily, we were watching CNN last night when the commander spoke.
When we flipped over to MSNBC, we saw that The One True Liberal Channel wasn't airing the commander's presentation.
Instead, they had Kornacki before the big board. He was offering the same (accurate) presentation he'd offered about ten million times before on that very day.
This morning, Mika was praising the channels which didn't air the commander's remarks. For ourselves, we were glad we got to see his ridiculous and pitiful breakdown.
Thanks to the invaluable Rev, you can read the transcript and watch the videotape of the commander's address. Also thanks to Rev, you can read the transcript and watch the tape of his early morning meltdown on Election Night—on Wednesday, November 4.
We were glad we got to see the commander last night. What we saw sharpened a basic question:
Is something "wrong with" Donald J. Trump? That is to say, is it possible that the commander in chief is severely impaired, whether on a psychiatric or a cognitive basis?
Stating one part of that concern in a slightly fuzzier way, is Donald Trump "mentally ill?" The fact that this question hasn't been asked by the upper-end press corps is one of the defining markers of this amazingly primitive journalistic era.
(The era began with journalists hiding in the bushes, overnight, to se if Candidate Hart maybe had a girlfriend. The childishness, and the blinding stupidity, continued on from there, not to mention the screaming lack seriousness and the inability to focus)
Let's describe last evening's spectacle in cinematic terms. Last night, as we watched the commander's rambling remarks, we felt we were looking at a punch-drunk Palooka who was basically out on his feet.
To us, it seemed clear that something "was wrong" with the person in question. Others prefer an ancient moral and tribal construction, in which the crafty commander in chief was simply "lying" again.
As the flames of tribal loathing have risen, our tribe has taken delight in accusing Trump of "lies." In doing so, we have persistently cast aside a basic, time-honored point of logic, along with a long-standing, thoroughly intelligent journalistic norm.
Last evening, after the commander spoke, the New York Times played this newer game. Below you see, headline included, the childish tease which appeared near the top of its web site:
Biden urges patience; Trump lies about count
Joe Biden gained ground on President Trump in Georgia and Pennsylvania, but his lead diminished in Arizona.
The Trump team lost court cases in Georgia and Michigan, but had a small win in Pennsylvania.
At the White House, Mr. Trump made a brief statement filled with egregious falsehoods and smears about the election process. Here’s the latest.
From there, the reader could click for updates. That said, please note:
In the body of that tease, the text spoke about the commander's "falsehoods." Desperate for some ardent glory, some editor, in a pleasing headline, turned those egregious falsehoods into "lies."
This morning, the Times has returned to journalistic form. Above its news report about the commander's performance, the Times offers these twin headlines:
In Torrent of Falsehoods, Trump Claims Election Is Being Stolen
Most television networks cut away from the statement President Trump gave Thursday night from the White House briefing room on the grounds that what he was saying was not true.
This morning's headlines speak of "falsehoods"—of statements which were "not true."
In the report itself, it's said that the commander "appeared on the edge of telling a lie." An earlier, time-honored logic had been restored, with journalists acknowledging the difficulty in knowing when false statements are lies.
For millennia, our ancestors have understood that it's hard to know if a false statement is a lie. That's especially true if the speaker in question—in this case, the commander in chief—may be psychiatrically or cognitively impaired in some serious, perhaps dangerous way.
Is it possible that Donald J. Trump believed the crazy things he was saying last night? We don't know how to score that. We say that because it has seemed to us, for years, that something seems to be "wrong with" this powerful person.
In 2017, Yale psychiatrist Bandy X. Lee tried to start a discussion of this matter. In January 2018, the New York Times editorial board said the discussion must stop.
In July of this year, the commander's niece, Mary L. Trump, took a shot at bringing that discussion back to life.
A clinical psychologist and a family member, Mary Trump wrote a major best-seller in which she flatly said that Donald Trump's father had been a "sociopath." Concerning her uncle, the commander in chief, Mary Trump offered this:
MARY TRUMP (page 12): In the last three years, I’ve watched as countless pundits, armchair psychologists and journalists have kept missing the mark, using phrases such as "malignant narcissism" and "narcissistic personality disorder" in an attempt to make sense of Donald’s often bizarre and self-defeating behavior. I have no problem calling Donald a narcissist—he meets all nine criteria as outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5)—but the label only gets us so far.
[Clinical] experiences showed me time and again that diagnosis doesn't exist in a vacuum. Does Donald have other symptoms we aren't aware of? Are there other disorders that might have as much or more explanatory power? Maybe. A case could be made that he also meets the criteria for antisocial personality disorder, which in its most severe forms is generally considered sociopathy but can also refer to chronic criminality, arrogance, and disregard for the rights of others...
The fact is, Donald’s pathologies are so complex and his behaviors so often inexplicable that coming up with an accurate and comprehensive diagnosis would require a full battery of psychological and neuropsychological tests that he’ll never sit for.
From that, it sounds like the commander could be a sociopath too—perhaps a "sociopath-plus." But when Mary Trump appeared on cable TV to promote her massive best-seller, she was rarely asked to discuss her uncle's psychiatric state.
Instead, she tended to discuss her uncle in the same way other pundits do. She tended to criticize the morality of her uncle's behavior, without being asked to discuss the (severe) psychiatric "disorders" which might explain his conduct.
In our experience, Mary Trump accepted this framework preference every step of the way. This brings us to the very articulate essay she wrote for the Washington Post about the so-called "Goldwater Rule."
MARY TRUMP (10/25/20): In 1964, Fact magazine published an unscientific survey asking psychiatrists whether they thought the Republican nominee, Barry Goldwater, was psychologically fit to serve as president of the United States. The problem wasn’t that professionals felt the need to share their views of what they considered Goldwater’s dangerous ideas; [the problem] was the irresponsible and often bizarre analyses that were in some cases based entirely on rank speculation...
Embarrassed, the American Psychiatric Association (APA), in reaction to this debacle, established the “Goldwater Rule,” which barred its members from diagnosing public figures. It concluded that “it is unethical for a psychiatrist to offer a professional opinion unless he or she has conducted an examination and has been granted proper authorization for such a statement.” That’s fair, as far as it goes. But in March 2017, shortly after my uncle, Donald Trump, was inaugurated, the APA didn’t just reaffirm the rule—it expanded it past the point of coherence. Not only were members prohibited from diagnosing public figures, now they could no longer offer a professional opinion of any sort, no matter how well supported or evidence-based, even if they believed that a public figure posed a threat to the country’s citizens or national security.
In her essay, Mary Trump argued that the APA should rescind its strictures—professional strictures which apply to psychiatrists, not to journalists. She said the APA should let its members speak, in responsible ways, about such significant matters.
In our view, Mary Trump's essay made perfect sense. The piece was well-reasoned, well-written. Mary L. Trump seems quite sharp.
That said, we noticed something else about Mary Trump's essay. While she challenged the way the APA has limited such public discussion, she said nothing about the way the MSM has fallen in line with the spirit of those professional strictures.
We saw Mary Trump appear on quite a few "cable news" programs. We never saw her asked to discuss her uncle in explicit psychological terms. Nor did we see her try to steer the discussion in that direction.
It may be just as well that these attempts weren't made. In our society's current state of development, we possess a highly primitive "public discourse," one in which almost no serious topic is ever discussed in a competent, serious way.
Our journalists simply don't have the skills, or the inclination, which would allow for serious discussion of serious topics. With chimps like these in charge of the discourse, any attempt to bring psychiatry into the mix would likely have led to disaster.
That said, we wondered again about the commander's mental state last night. We first asked about the possibility of mental illness in early 2016.
That initial question was triggered by a very strange set of behaviors on one primary election night. Last night, we wondered if we were looking at a badly disordered person.
Does Donald J. Trump actually believe the very strange things he says? Do his syndromes make him "dangerous," given the office he holds? If so, in what ways? And to what extent?
When Bandy Lee published her doomed best-seller, the notion that Trump's disorders made him dangerous was placed right in her title. The New York Times then said we shouldn't discuss that matter, and the guild followed along.
Right through her essay for the Post, Mary Trump has bowed to that consensus. In this way, a major part of press corps culture has remained undisturbed.
Thanks to the press corps' potent code of silence, what happens in the mainstream press corps stays in the mainstream press corps. We've been telling you that for twenty years. Major anthropologists assure us of one key point:
This primitive, all-too-human practice is never going to change. "This is the way our primitive brains are wired," these major top experts have said.