Yet again, we’re in danger of letting Donald Trump dramatically lower the standards for the presidency.
Talk is getting louder about his mental health, but it shouldn’t require mental incapacity to be considered unfit for the nation’s highest office. Being erratic, ignorant and a demagogue should be more than enough to raise those questions.
I think a professor who helped write the official book on mental disorders has it exactly right. “He is definitely unstable. He is definitely impulsive. He is world-class narcissistic, not just for our day but for the ages,” Allen Frances, a former psychiatry department chairman at Duke University School of Medicine, told The New York Times. “You can’t say enough about how incompetent and unqualified he is to be leader of the free world. But that does not make him mentally ill.”
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Democrats who are publicly questioning Trump’s mental state – including those who invited a psychiatrist to Capitol Hill for a briefing last month – are in danger of falling into this trap. “We’ve got a crazy leading the North Korea and we’ve got a crazy in the White House,” Rep. John Garamendi of Walnut Grove said Friday on CNN.
He and Rep. Adam Schiff, a Burbank Democrat, say that quite a few Republicans in Congress share concerns about Trump’s mental state, but aren’t willing to go public.
The media frenzy intensified with the publication of “Fire and Fury” and Trump’s heated response. In one tweet, he declared himself a “stable genius.” If that were really true, of course, he wouldn’t have to say it.
There’s even serious discussion of the 25th Amendment, which allows the vice president and a majority of the Cabinet to remove the president if they deem him physically or mentally “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.”
Trump is scheduled to have his first full physical exam as president on Friday, but the White House won’t say whether his mental acuity also will be tested. And who knows? He could break with precedent again and refuse to release the results.
Rather than going too deep down this rabbit hole, Democrats need to focus on battling Trump on policy and on retaking the U.S. House and Senate in November.
As long as Republicans control Congress and back Trump, removal for any reason is almost certainly off the table. GOP leaders, including Kevin McCarthy of Bakersfield, literally stood behind Trump at Camp David over the weekend as the president boasted of his resume and attacked the book.
Just as Democrats are in danger of going too far questioning Trump’s mental fitness, Republicans are putting themselves out further and further on a limb defending this president. As they continue to ignore his faults and enable his outrages, they are becoming his willing accomplices. One day, it may even seem crazy.