The furor over the forthcoming--and later today, officially published book--Fire and Fury is still raging, so it's fruitless to even summarize what's happened so far. Republicans are roiling, not only from the open war declared by the anti-president and his enablers on Bannon, the revelations on Russia, White House dysfunction and the anti-president's incompetence, but what this book adds to the ongoing concerns on his peculiar mental state, and of course what this all means politically.
But for the rest of the country and the world it is the increasing worry over his grasp of reality, and impulse control. His tweet on his bigger nuclear button is part of this context. In this regard, Eric Levitz writes that the signs are there for everyone to see. He disputes the idea that the anti-president has to be examined by a psychologist or whatever before a diagnosis is made:
"That argument has always struck me as nuts.There is no diagnostic blood test or brain scan for narcissistic personality disorder; there’s just a list of observable traits. A mental-health professional simply studies a patient’s modes of reasoning and patterns of behavior, and assesses whether they fit the checklist of symptoms for NPD. It’s absurd to believe that a psychiatrist who has spent a couple of hours talking to a patient in an office is qualified to make this diagnosis — but one with access to hundreds of hours of a patient’s interviews and improvisatory remarks, along with a small library’s worth of biographical information and testimonials from his closest confidants — is not. To insist otherwise is to mystify psychiatric practice; it’s to pretend that there is some shamanistic knowledge that mental-health professionals can only access once you provide them with a co-pay."
At least some psychologists who have studied the public record are deeply concerned, and as Levitz reports, one of them has briefed members of Congress. That's enough to be convincing, but whether it's enough to pass a legal or constitutional test is another question. It would seem that an actual examination is the minimum for that.
Yet The Fire and Fury excerpts widely published by Thursday only add to the evidence of mental instability or worse. It's not just the individual statements and incidents, it's the weight of them. One of the most troubling is this:
"At Mar-a-Lago, just before the new year, a heavily made-up Trump failed to recognize a succession of old friends."
To the usual personality disorders suggested, Levitz adds the possibility of dementia (or senility.) At least some of this may be actual brain damage or dysfunction. I was surprised when he slurred his words and had to use two hands to grip a glass that no one in the media I saw mentioned the possibility of a mini-stroke, which is the first thing I thought of. It's transitory but it can be damaging.
If something like that has happened and it shows up in a real physical (as has been promised for this month), then invoking the 25th amendment becomes easier.
Republicans invoking it is also made easier because the sacred tax cut is law, and that's likely to be all the Rs will get out of this Congress. They keep circling the wagons until they don't. They need to be convinced this guy has no future, and with him neither do they. Or sufficiently scared out of their own minds by that finger on the nuclear button.
The other red flag in this regard reported in this book is that the anti-president made the decision to fire Comey alone. Although aides had weighed in on the pros and cons, he made and announced the decision without telling anyone first. That does not bode well when it's also being reported that he's becoming obsessed with North Korea and war.
In any case I forewarned a fateful year, and it's off to a fast and furious start.
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