The mental…uhmm…instability of Donald Trump is fairly undeniable even by his political supporters, at least those who haven’t abandoned reality altogether.
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Yet with many prominent psychiatric experts claiming that Trump’s cognitive decline goes beyond mere instability to full-blown mental illness — narcissistic and anti-social personality disorders being among the most frequent diagnoses — the news contained in an upcoming new book— Front Row at the Trump Show by ABC News chief White House correspondent Jonathan Karl — and quoted by New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd today is particularly frightening.
Dowd quotes an anecdote from Karl’s journalistic memoir in the context of a column about Donald Trump’s pot-black sniping at the mental fitness of former Vice President Joe Biden for a presidency that Trump has already proven can quickly drive the nation towards ruination in the control of a mentally unfit chief executive.
Here’s how Dowd describes Trump’s attacks on his opponent only four years older than himself and much less maliciously belligerent:
“In “the Year of the Drunken Uncle,” as The Spectator calls it, the 73-year-old Trump has belittled the 77-year-old Biden as “not playing with a full deck” and predicted that, if Joe wins, his staff will “put him into a home,” and he’ll be there watching television while “super-left, radical crazies” run the White House.”
Presumably, in mysterious thought processes of Donald Trump, that is somehow different than his own habit of spending “executive time” watching Fox News and tweeting whatever random crazy old man insight his viewing inspires while ultra-right, radical neo-Nazi crazies run his administration.
Speaking of ultra-right, radical neo-Nazi crazies running his administration, that’s where the anecdote that Dowd includes from Karl’s new tome comes into play.
Mick Mulvaney, who until his firing yesterday was the latest acting Chief of Staff for Trump — a man who goes through senior aides faster than someone with intestinal flu goes through toilet paper — once told senior White House staffers at a Camp David retreat shortly after he assumed the office that there was a book that he highly recommended that they read, according to Jonathan Karl.
The book in question was A First-Rate Madness: Uncovering the Links Between Leadership and Mental Illness by Nassir Ghaemi, director of the mood disorders program at Tufts Medical Center, and its primary premise, as described by the author in his introduction, should send a chill down the spines of any thinking Americans.
“This book argues that in at least one vitally important circumstance insanity produces good results and sanity is a problem,” Ghaemi writes in his introduction. “In times of crisis, we are better off being led by mentally ill leaders than by mentally normal ones.”
Let that sink in. By his recommendation of this book, the Chief of Staff for the President of the United States is not only implying that his boss is off his rocker, but he is trying to convince his colleagues that this is beneficial to the nation!
Here’s the money quote from Karl:
“The new acting chief of staff seemed to be saying President Trump was mentally ill — and that this was a good thing. The corollary to that theory: Don’t try to control the man in the Oval Office. What you think is madness is actually genius.”
First sneak peak at my upcoming book via @maureendowd:
As Karl writes: “The new acting chief of staff seemed to be saying President Trump was mentally ill — and that this was a good thing.“ https://t.co/hYlzKBWzZ2
— Jonathan Karl (@jonkarl) March 7, 2020
Indeed, the quotes from Ghaemi’s book that Mulvaney endorsed and Dowd condenses for her column are convincing arguments that manic behavior can prevent indecisiveness.
“Decisions seem easy; no guilt, no doubt, just do it. The trouble is not in starting things, but in finishing them; with so much to do and little time, it’s easy to get distracted … affairs are common; divorce is the norm. … Mania is like a galloping horse. … In Freudian terms, one might say that mania enhances the id, for better or worse,” Ghaemi writes.
When Jonathan Karl asked Ghaemi how his thesis applied to the Trump presidency, the reply was something that should send each of us curling into a fetal position with fear.
Accurately noting that Donald Trump has “mild manic symptoms all the time,” Ghaemi said that the president “perfectly” exemplified his theory while being careful to explain in his book that more intense forms of mania are truly disabling and highly dangerous.
Perhaps the leak of Mulvaney’s opinion on Trump’s madness-induced “genius” contributed to his departure from the White House yesterday. Whether or not it was a factor, Trump himself continues to display all the signs of exactly the types of mental decline that he has the gall to accuse Joe Biden of exhibiting.
As Maureen Dowd so eloquently puts it in her column:
“Trump is continuing his Panglossian handling of the coronavirus. ‘The tests are beautiful!’ he said as he toured the C.D.C. Friday evening, after a kerfuffle over delays in testing. ‘The tests are all perfect, like the letter was perfect, the transcription was perfect,’ he added, referring to his communication with the president of Ukraine. “This is the highest-level test anywhere.’ ‘I like this stuff, I really get it,’ he said, adding that maybe he should have become a scientist, like his uncle the ‘super genius,’ instead of running for president.”
“Meanwhile, the stock market is still freaking out and financial angst is spreading from boardrooms to kitchen tables,” Dowd writes.
“We can vividly see in this crisis how close to the surface Trump’s id is and how easily he cleaves to delusions. He personalizes everything so much that when things go bad, he can only see it as an attack on him by the forces out to get him.”
“He seems psychologically incapable of dealing with a virus that is complex and uncertain. The virus will be in every community and needs truth, honesty and intelligence — all absent from the unstable Trump, who at his core is a frightened boy and pretender.”
If this type of madness is truly genius in disguise, then it is an evil genius indeed.
Depending on the outcome of the Democratic convention, Americans may soon have the choice between evil genius and a more benign form of an aging brain.
Given Donald Trump’s family history, it’s not surprising that his psyche would be obsessed with trying to outdo the accomplishments of his father Fred Trump whose fortune he squandered on bad investments and mismanagement of the family business. Who knew that the competitive Oedipal complex would extend to the onset of dementia which the Alzheimer’s disease that Fred Trump suffered from in the last years of his life caused.
That a senior member of the White House staff found this to be a positive development is even more cause for concern. They know he’s crazy and think it’s a good thing.
As Mulvaney discovered personally after he was ousted in favor of Congressman Mark Meadows yesterday, Trump’s madness has been nothing but a disaster for our country.
Original reporting by Maureen Dowd in The New York Times.