Monday, September 26, 2016

Three Questions About Donald Trump

I started writing this on August 1, 2016. I've put off finishing it and putting it out there. Not sure why. I think I was waiting for somebody bigger, smarter, with a larger audience to say all of this. And in a sense, that's happened - people have said these things, but somehow, none of them has gained traction. So here's my little bit, for what it's worth:

Question #1: Does Donald Trump have dementia?
After Britain voted to leave the European Union, Donald Trump gave a press conference from Scotland.

U.S. Secretary of Labor Robert Reich included a transcript of that interview in a Facebook post. Reading it evoked a thought which I had not had before: maybe Donald Trump has dementia.

This thought had nothing to do with his political views. It has to do with how he expresses himself; it has to do with how he constructs sentences, or fails to. On paper, at least, his communication looks impaired.

Here's a snippet, from the Washington Post (which described the conference as "beyond bizarre"). The first question focused on Scotland, which voted to remain the E.U.

QUESTION: How would the Trump administration approach the Brexit, should you be elected president? And Scotland voted 62-38 to remain. Should Scotland leave the U.K., as many people are talking about?
TRUMP: Yeah. I think I see a big parallel. I think people really — I think people really see a big parallel. A lot of people are talking about that, and not only the United States, but other countries.
People want to take their country back. They want to have independence, in a sense, and you see it with Europe, all over Europe. You're going to have more than just — in my opinion, more than what happened last night, you're going to have, I think many other cases where they want to take their borders back. They want to take their monetary back.

As it turns out, I'm not the first one questioning Trump's mental capacity. In April, Salon ran a piece by Sophia McClennen that asked the question, "What if Trump isn’t 'crazy' but is actually not well instead?"

Two months earlier, Newscorpse ran a piece penned by "Mark NC" - I hesitated about citing a website that I had not heard of, and a piece that is essentially anonymous, but it happens to be well-written enough to deserve mention - which provides "an exploration of the three most prominent symptoms of dementia and their relationship to Trump’s behavior."

The symptoms named are impaired judgment, loss of memory, and childish behavior.

According to the National Institute on Aging, the first symptoms of Alzheimer's typically appear when a person is in their mid-60s. That was one of the reasons that people made a big deal of Ronald Reagan's age when he became President - he was sworn in less than three weeks before his 70th birthday.

Donald Trump turned 70 in June.

Question #2: Is Donald Trump a sociopath?
James Hamblin raised this question in a piece for The Atlantic. Hamblin was writing specifically in response to a long New Yorker piece by Jane Meyer, "Donald Trump's Ghostwriter Tells All."

The ghostwriter is Tony Schwartz, who wrote "The Art of the Deal" under contract for Trump. Meyer writes:

If he were writing “The Art of the Deal” today, Schwartz said, it would be a very different book with a very different title. Asked what he would call it, he answered, “The Sociopath.”

Schwartz tells Meyer that the very process of gathering information for the book was hindered by Trump's apparent inability to pay attention to anything for more than a few minutes at a time.

Think about that mind being tasked with giving attention to the issues faced by the President of the United States.

There's more: way back in November, Vanity Fair ran a piece titled, "Is Donald Trump Actually A Narcissist? Therapists Weigh In."

Almost anyone who has been exposed to Trump's ego might automatically answer with a yes, but the question is not about whether Trump strikes laypeople as narcissistic - it's about whether mental health professionals view him as having a personality disorder (they do).

In March, an American Thinker interview with Sam Vaknin, a specialist in narcissistic personality disorder, provided a checklist for diasnosing NPD. A narcissist:

  • Feels grandiose and self-important
  • Is obsessed with fantasies of unlimited success, fame, fearsome power or omnipotence, unequaled brilliance, bodily beauty or sexual performance, or ideal, everlasting, all-conquering love or passion
  • Firmly convinced that he or she is unique and, being special, can only be understood by, should only be treated by, or associate with, other special or unique, or high-status people 
  • Requires excessive admiration, adulation, attention and affirmation – or, failing that, wishes to be feared and to be notorious
  • Feels entitled. Demands automatic and full compliance with his or her unreasonable expectations for special and favorable priority treatment
  • Is "interpersonally exploitative"
  • Devoid of empathy. 
  • Constantly envious of others and seeks to hurt or destroy the objects of his or her frustration. Suffers from persecutory (paranoid) delusions as he or she believes that they feel the same about him or her and are likely to act similarly
  • Behaves arrogantly and haughtily. 

And in August, The Washington Post reported on "The new media obsession: "Could there be something...neurologically wrong' with Donald Trump?"

The weird thing is that with all of the stories about Trump's mental health, the issue has not taken off. I can only surmise that it's because the Clinton campaign dare not bring it up, because to do so would seem to be the nadir of political discourse (even lower than Trump calling Clinton "the devil").

But it's a real question - and again, it's not a political one. It is not about Donald Trump's policy positions. It is about his mental and emotional health. Is he fit to serve?

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Question #3: Is Donald Trump a baby Christian?

I'll give you a minute to stop laughing.

Okay, I didn't think of this of one - I never could have. It just popped up. From the New York Times:

Has Donald J. Trump become a born-again Christian?
That is the suggestion of James C. Dobson, one of America’s leading evangelicals, who said Mr. Trump had recently come “to accept a relationship with Christ” and was now “a baby Christian.”
Dr. Dobson, the founder of Focus on the Family and one of the country’s most prominent social conservatives, gave his account at a meeting Mr. Trump had in New York on Tuesday with hundreds of Christian conservatives.
Since then, Trump has made crossed Christianity's racial divide to appear in a Black church or two; which is standard operating procedure for candidates. That, in and of itself, is not as newsworthy as the claim that Trump is a real, genuine baby Christian.

But here's the thing: The whole matter of becoming a Christian hinges on repentance - it includes recognizing the error of one's ways and changing direction.

I'll need a lot more clues suggesting such a change in direction before celebrating Trump's salvation.