Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Is Trump Cray?

The spectacle of Trump giving a 55 minute press conference to try to refute the charges that he's lost it is humiliating on a national level in and of itself--but The Omnivore has been charged with thinking / assuming the president is mentally incapacitated and, you know, has this blog-thing wherein he can actually say what he thinks.

So he will.

Here you go . . .

The Definition of an Alcoholic

The first thing about diagnosing mental illness is that part of the definition is suffering. That is: being an alcoholic is defined by having persistent and significant problems in your life due to drinking. If you are drinking a bottle of vodka every day for lunch and doing fine? You're not an alcoholic.

Same for narcissism or pathological lying: if you lie all the time and people are good with it--you don't fit the disease. Indeed, why would you stop?? Trump certainly thinks highly of himself--but he is wealthy and is president--so why shouldn't he.

Trump certainly says things that aren't true all the time. Is this part of marketing and branding? Or can he not help himself? No one can say.

These are not pathologies in the technical sense (although they may fall under the "being a jerk" category if you wish to place them there).

So, no--as it stands, The Omnivore doesn't think you can diagnose the president with an actual psychological illness?

What About Dementia?

The Wolff book and several other observers have claimed that either (a) Trump is showing signs of dementia (slurred speech, less use of language facility, whatever-whatever-whatever) or (b) in private is repeating the same stories over and over, not recognizing friends, etc. These are charges--are they true?

The Omnivore likes the recent David Brooks column where he notes that people who meet 1:1 with the president usually come away pleasantly surprised. The Omnivore can't confirm that this is the case (not knowing anyone who has recently met with the president) but thinks there is strong reason to believe it is likely true: if random people were meeting with the president and he was drooling on the presidential desk, we'd know.

So what gives?

Well, here's what The Omnivore does think:

  1. Trump is in way over his head and can't recognize that. At the prove-I'm-lucid meeting, Trump indicated that he has very little idea how immigration policy works and his response to being asked for a "clean bill" was not lucid. That means he doesn't have a grip on policy vision. It doesn't mean his mind is going.
  2. Trump was there for 55 minutes. He did a good job for 55 minutes--but we don't know how his temperament would hold up for, say, the 11 hours Hillary spent under questioning. Issues of mental facility aside, The Omnivore isn't sure he'd bet on the president making it through that without a temper-tantrum. 
  3. There are reports that his attention span and willingness to take in information is limited (that the daily briefing is simplified, that there is a folder-of-praise created for him, that flattery is required to hold his interest). Certainly other countries believe this is the case, wining and dining him like no other president The Omnivore can remember. The president's published videos of sycophantic praise are cringe-inducing. So there are at least several publicly available data points in this direction.
So what have we got?

What HAVE We Got?

He's probably about average for a 71 year old guy--meaning he's likely slowed down from where he was a few decades ago. He definitely doesn't seem to be a big thinker about policy--he didn't seem conversant with health care or his tax bill. He has more or less said he'll sign anything they'll put in front of him. He understands some issues with immigration but agreed verbally to a "clean DACA bill" which is both at odds with his party's position and was redacted from the published transcript.

So this isn't a genius we're talking about here. This is a guy whose priority is to "rack up wins" and doesn't care how he gets them. Statesmanship this ain't.

This is also someone who may very well not pay a lot of attention to things that are outside his expertise. He seems to think highly of himself as an expert in all things--but when put to the test (design a health care plan that helps his base and is better than Obamacare) fails and blames others. 

So crazy? No. Demented? Probably not. Slower than he'd like us to think? Yeah--probably. Emotionally volatile? Definitely. Priority on wins over any specific policy vision or outcome? Looks that way.

But not crazy. 

1 comment:

  1. A dangerous, unstable fool, but not crazy.