Tuesday, March 19, 2019

The pathological products of a preening president

Over the weekend, Donald Trump, president of the United States and supposed leader of the free world, went on a nonstop binge of unhinged tweets leading to speculations about his declining mental health. For example:

Donald J. Trump
@realDonaldTrump
What the Democrats have done in trying to steal a Presidential Election, first at the “ballot box” and then, after that failed, with the “Insurance Policy,” is the biggest Scandal in the history of our Country!
111K 4:16 PM - Mar 17, 2019

You see? What the hell is that about? I defy you to make sense of it.

Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin could not in her observations that Trump is getting worse. And Republicans’ rationalizations are getting weaker.

Whether meant seriously or not, Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein’s alleged consideration of the 25th Amendment seems, in retrospect, not to have been irrational at all. Since President Trump’s firing of James B. Comey as FBI director and the appointment of a special counsel, Trump’s mental and emotional health has seemed to fray. The pace of lies and nonsensical accusations, the resort to conspiracy theories and refusal to conduct himself like an adult (let alone the president) often pick up in the wake of bad news from the special counsel and widespread criticism of the president’s unhinged behavior. So it was this weekend following his refusal to directly condemn white nationalism in the wake of the New Zealand massacre and the defection of 12 Senate Republicans last week on the resolution repealing the emergency declaration.

But Trump was not the only entity making little to no sense. The Grand Old Party Party of Trump failed, miserably, cowardly, to stand up to his ranting falsifications. Trump attacked a deceased national hero and the GOP leaders did nothing, nada, in response.

Trump attacked deceased senator John McCain (R-Ariz.), whom he falsely accused of leaking the Steele dossier and who he falsely said finished “last in his class" at Annapolis. (He finished fifth from last. Since Trump’s attorney went around allegedly threatening schools Trump attended, we have no way of knowing how Trump performed in school.) Anti-Trump activist Sarah Longwell observed that the worst part of this was “the way so many Republicans just let them slide or even cheer them. John McCain was tortured in a prison camp for five years in service to this country. The least his party could do is defend him from Trump’s dishonorable smears.” That’s beyond the moral capacity of nearly all elected Republicans these days.

[In a message to those Republicans,] NeverTrump leader and Bulwark editor at large Bill Kristol tweeted:

Bill “Slightly Dangerous” Kristol
@BillKristol
To Republicans who’ve been inclined to acquiesce in a Trump re-nomination in 2020: Read his tweets this morning. Think seriously about his mental condition and psychological state. Then tell me you’re fine with him as president of the United States for an additional four years.
40.8K 6:56 AM - Mar 17, 2019

… Trump’s manic tweeting and wild accusations have George Conway, husband of presidential adviser Kellyanne Conway, convinced that “his condition is getting worse.”

Here’s some history on George Conway’s deteriorating support for Trump and because of Trump’s deteriorating condition from John Harwood at CNBC, George Conway, husband of Trump advisor Kellyanne Conway, has an urgent warning about the president’s mental health.

At first, it looked like a package deal: Kellyanne Conway would join President Donald Trump’s White House staff, her husband, George, the new administration’s Justice Department.

The former happened, but the latter did not. And now, in a Washington spectacle unseen since the wife of Richard Nixon’s attorney general sounded alarms about Watergate, the spouse of a top presidential advisor is issuing urgent public warnings about Trump’s mental health.

… Conway publicly mused about the fate of a business executive behaving similarly.

“What if a CEO routinely made false and misleading statements about himself, the company, and results, and public attacked business partners, company ‘divisions’ (w/scare quotes!), employees, and analysts, and kowtowed to a dangerous competitor?” Conway tweeted.

Kellyanne Conway bristles at questions about her husband’s words as unrelated to her White House work. Trump accuses George Conway of seeking attention.

Washington cynics dismiss his stance for a different reason. While she retains Trump’s favor through unyielding public advocacy, they reason, he courts the president’s foes with an eye toward life after the administration.

But recent days make it more difficult to ignore the substance of what Conway says about the most powerful man in the world. Last week, Conway questioned Trump’s mental fitness while excoriating him for false claims about federal Judge Amy Berman Jackson.

“Have we ever seen this degree of brazen, pathological mendacity in American public life?” Conway tweeted. “Whether or not impeachment is in order, a serious inquiry needs to be made about this man’s condition of mind.”

“His condition is getting worse,” Conway tweeted.

Monday he got more specific. Conway circulated medical criteria for Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

“Don’t assume that the things he says and does are part of a rational plan or strategy, because they seldom are,” Conway tweeted. “Consider them as a product of his pathologies, and they make perfect sense.”

“All Americans should be thinking seriously now about Trump’s mental condition and psychological state, including and especially the media, Congress – and the Vice President and Cabinet,” Conway tweeted.

Returning to Jennifer Rubin for concluding observations …

Unfortunately, most Republicans are fine with Trump, or say they are. They have tax cuts and some judges, so what do they care if the presidency is sullied, racial anger builds, the United States’ reputation in the world is damaged, decency and objective truth are obliterated, and none of our real challenges (e.g. income inequality, climate change) are addressed? Republicans will still tell you that they are victims of liberal elites. In their minds, Trump is just evening the score on their behalf.

There is no moral or intellectual reason that will persuade them. There is no respectful conversation to be had with people who argue in bad faith. The only solution is to defeat Trump and his party so thoroughly that Trumpism is permanently discredited. A party that continues to defend this president is simply beyond redemption.

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