Thursday, November 30, 2017

Teflon Don's sanity draws more scrutiny -- Nov. 30, 2017 column

You’d have to be crazy to run for president.

That’s what people often say, meaning it takes a certain kind of person, with a supersized ego and laser determination, to put oneself through the political wringer.

President Donald Trump proved he had the moxie to win the White House. Now his performance in the Oval Office is drawing new questions about his sanity.

When the 2005 “Access Hollywood” tape surfaced last year, Trump admitted saying the vulgarities about women. He apologized and called it “locker room talk.”

But recently he changed his tune, telling a senator the voice on the tape wasn’t his and he didn’t say those words, The New York Times reported.

More than a dozen women have come forward to accuse Trump of inappropriate behavior. The charges have rolled off his back, even as many powerful men in the entertainment and media industries have lost their jobs.

He’s Teflon Don, one of Trump’s accusers said. The White House position is that every one of the women is lying.

Trump endorsed Senate candidate Roy Moore and seems to admire the way the Alabama Republican has steadfastly denied all allegations of sexual impropriety.

Trump reportedly has returned to a favorite conspiracy theory of old, strangely reiterating his claim that Barack Obama was born in Kenya – after acknowledging last year that the former president was born in the United States.

Trump clings to the notion that he lost the popular vote only because there was widespread voter fraud, although no proof of it has been found.

At a White House ceremony Tuesday honoring the Navajo code talkers, he showed his impulsiveness and lack of filter when he made a crack about Pocahontas, his nickname for Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Democrat of Massachusetts.

And his sharing three inflammatory, unverified, anti-Muslim videos on Twitter Wednesday was so far outside the norms of presidential behavior as to be inconceivable. Except that for Trump, tacit endorsement of the far-right, racist Britain First group was sadly par for the course.

“It was wrong for the president to have done this,” said a spokesman for British Prime Minister Theresa May, who added that Britain First uses “hate-filled narratives to peddle lies and stoke tensions.”

But Trump won praise from David Duke, former Ku Klux Klan leader, who tweeted: “Thank God for Trump! That’s why we love him.”

Thumbing his nose at an ally, Trump tweeted to May to mind her own business.

During the campaign, Trump’s many GOP competitors as well as the news media, Obama and Hillary Clinton questioned his mental stability and warned of his unfitness for office.  

Senator Ted Cruz, Republican of Texas, called Trump a “pathological liar,” “narcissist” and “utterly amoral,” after Trump attacked Cruz’s wife and father. Cruz later endorsed Trump anyway, and most other prominent Republicans also fell in line.

This isn’t the first time a president’s mental health has come under scrutiny. Richard Nixon was prescribed uppers and downers in an attempt to control his moodiness. 

Richard N. Goodwin, an aide to John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson, wrote that he studied medical books trying to understand LBJ’s paranoid behavior. 

Those interested in Trump’s mental health can skip the medical texts. “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 27 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President,” a book of essays, was published in October.

The authors concede no definitive diagnosis is possible, but they say Trump exhibits signs of being a malignant narcissist, a sociopath, paranoid and of having a delusional detachment from reality, among other things.

“Anyone as mentally unstable as Mr. Trump should not be entrusted with the life-and-death powers of the presidency,” the authors write in the prologue.

Trump’s fans dismiss such talk as politics as usual.

“Trump is NOT crazy despite the claims of some mental health professionals” read the headline on an op-ed by Andrew Snyder, a psychotherapist, on Shrinks are calling Trump crazy simply because they disagree with his policies, he said.

But you don’t have to think Trump is crazy to find him reckless and rash. Not that Teflon Don is about to change.  

In Missouri Wednesday, he was talking about taxes but could have been referring to his approach to the highest office in the land.

“Hey look, I’m president. I don’t care anymore,” he said.

©2017 Marsha Mercer. All rights reserved. 30

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