by Bob Cesca
Ever since he first traveled awkwardly down the escalator in Trump Tower almost exactly two years ago this month, I’ve resisted the urge to diagnose any possible mental health issues Donald Trump might have. While the lure of speculation has certainly been there, I’ve tried to resist actually stepping away from my pay-grade to draw any conclusions about what the hell is wrong with him.
My reasoning is based on the following.
1) I’m old enough to remember back to 2005 when the Republicans, led by then-Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist frantically struggled to diagnose — from hundreds of miles away, no less — a Florida woman named Terri Schiavo, whose heart attack left her in a persistent vegetative state. Frist and “right to life” members of the congressional GOP engaged in a failed effort to wedge themselves between Schiavo and her husband to a point where Frist and his cabal thought they had enough information to know Schiavo’s condition without officially diagnosing her, and they used this bogus diagnosis in an attempt to interfere in whether she should be allowed to die on her own terms. It’d be inconsistent of me to criticize the Republicans for that harrowing story while doing the same with a long distance diagnosis of Trump.
2) While I have — I don’t know — nine credit hours in psychology classes under my belt from college 25 years ago, I’m nowhere near qualified enough — not in any universe would I be able to render an accurate diagnosis, especially from miles away and without any formal training in specifically how to diagnose a human being for any possible mental illnesses. In other words, I’m not an expert. Chances are, neither are you or your Facebook friends.
3) And finally, diagnosing a president with some form of narcissism isn’t breaking news. I’ve always said that anyone, be they Trump, Obama, Bush, Clinton or Sanders who looks in the mirror and honestly believes they not only should run for president but who believe they can actually win is, to some degree, a narcissist. To run for the presidency requires a monster ego, so pegging Trump as a narcissist is a little too easy and, frankly, not abnormal.
The better conversation to have, even if the conversation leads to a 25th Amendment scenario in which the president is removed from office when or if he’s incapacitated, should always center on his public statements and actions. In absence of knowing the disorders that could or might be sparking his behavior, all that remains in hand are the things we can see and prove, including what we might learn from federal investigators.
Based on the rapidly expanding roster of Trump gaffes, lies, conspiracy theories, outrageous claims and inexplicable trespasses against human decency, not to mention presidential decorum, any reasonable observer will tell us that Trump is unfit to be president. His recklessness, his vulgarity, his seeming inability to grasp basic issues and history, his criminality, his intentional destabilization of the American system and his unwillingness to embrace the requirements of the presidency are indications that he’s simply ill-equipped to handle the most important and highest-stakes job in the world. We wouldn’t allow half of this behavior from grade school teachers or, hell, comedians and celebrities. Indeed, as a nation we’ve hectored lesser offenders out of their jobs for a single infraction, and yet the commander-in-chief is being given wider latitude than any other human, president or not. Don’t ask me why.
I realize that the presidency has been slowly dragged down to a level of folksiness that’s dangerous even for chief executives who otherwise understand the limits of presidential behavior. Trump and his supporters/enablers have entirely dispossessed themselves of traditional and legal limitations and are allowing behavior from Trump that’s disallowed among literally everyone else at that strata of society. It might sound repetitive to say, but this isn’t normal. We have a deeply, profoundly abnormal president and the instability he’s precipitating can’t be allowed to continue.
While Trump is the centerpiece, he’s not the only man inflicting damage on the system. Indeed, by not pursuing the constitutional remedies in the 25th, if not impeachment itself, dozens of other political elites in both parties are creating damage by refusing to at least verbally and legislatively impose strictures on the presidency in its current distressed condition. Today, at this moment, members of Congress and, yes, even members of Trump’s own cabinet still have time to guide the ship of state into a swift turn before it smacks head-first into an ice berg. Even when it comes to damage already inflicted, such as with the Russia attack on our elections as well as the damage to our national reputation as a world leader, our other political leaders can still reverse course and seal the breaches in the hull.
But as we barrel toward a possible foreign policy catastrophe with North Korea, with thousands or more people potentially dying in the process, and as the post-recession recovery is still improving, now’s the time to trigger the 25th before Trump’s destabilization virally infects other aspects of the country. In other words, we haven’t slipped beyond the zero barrier — the point of no return. Like it or not, there will be a day when Trump’s tweet about Mika and Joe or even the unforgivable content of the Access Hollywood tape will seem quaint by comparison of what has yet to occur.
And what has yet to occur is the inevitable consequence of electing a president who exhibits wanton recklessness and irresponsibility multiple times per day. We’re talking about the deconstruction of whole sections of the government, along with subsequent total wars and broad economic calamity. The requisite stability of the presidency isn’t the only bulwark against those things, but it’s a crucial one. Put it this way: there’s a reason why there haven’t been any presidents with Trump’s bottomless well of inadequacies until now. It’s the same reason why airplanes don’t fly without wings or pilots or fuel. We’re only a matter of years if not months away from finding out exactly why, in this case — through what will inevitably be great pain and suffering.
Not to hedge my bets here, but the blowback of electing Trump might actually arrive years from now with a future non-Trump president who’s actually worse than Trump. It can happen. Just look at George W. Bush. We never thought there could be a president worse than him, but eight years later here we are. Yes, it can get worse than Trump. Much worse.
For all these reasons any many more, Trump has to be deposed by the power of our Constitution by leaders who prioritize our founding documents over party. Before it’s too late. And “too late” can be any minute now.
The preamble to the Constitution demands that our political leaders per their oaths uphold, among other things, “domestic tranquility.” Today, we’re lightyears from domestic tranquility because of Donald Trump and he’s widening the precipice between us and tranquility with every tweet and every act of incompetence. That needs to end now. Immediately. Or else we’re in for a nightmare of breathtaking proportions.
As always, I hope I’m very, very wrong.
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