No sense of history, no comprehension of the Big Picture, and (if it threatens to undermine his latest posturing) a compulsion to dismiss information before he examines it. The country’s present executive is accustomed to the role of CEO in organizations full of lackeys that constantly stroke his monstrous ego and dare not contradict him.
One might suppose Trump was elected in part because he convinced a sizable minority of voters that what America needs is a wheelin’ dealin’ businessman who won’t get sucked into political games. A no-holds-barred champion of the New American Way — but not a statesman.
In large part, this notion has been bolstered by Trump’s success in misrepresenting his checkered financial history. He’s a con man, the presidency just another con job. Of course he hawks baseball caps displaying the MAGA logo.
Consider the “Goldwater rule.” That’s the informal name of Section 7 in the American Psychiatric Association’s “Principles of Medical Ethics.” Shrinks should not offer a professional opinion about public figures they haven’t examined in person, without obtaining consent to discuss a presumptive diagnosis publicly.
Yet across the country, legions of mental health professionals are so alarmed by Trump’s statements and actions that they feel obliged to suspend the rule. Political differences aside, they consider the evidence of Trump’s mental dysfunction egregious and overwhelming.
“Trump’s speech and other behavior indicate a man who is detached from reality and living in a universe of his own delusions,” a “serial liar” who has convinced himself that his lies effectively redefine truth, bending empirical reality to his will.
James Baldwin said, “I can’t believe what you say, because I see what you do.”
Facing a chorus of alarm over his “mental stability,” Trump’s camp highlighted a “mental test” from his recent medical exam. He passed the Montreal Cognitive Assessment test! The most perfect MCA score in all of recorded time, no doubt.
However … the MCA is designed to screen only for mild cognitive impairment or dementia. Myriad serious mental derangements neither compromise cognition nor cause dementia. Complex, diabolically clever crimes are committed by people afflicted by severe sociopathy, for example. Meet one on the street, engage him in conversation, and he will seem perfectly normal. He would score “normal” on the MCA, too. Later, he could steal your identity or your life, entirely without remorse.
MCA “questions” include naming a picture of an animal, copying a cube, counting backward by sevens, drawing a clock face. Testing Trump’s mental function with the MCA is simply irrelevant. It couldn’t identify a guy with, say, delusions of grandeur, uncontrollable impulsivity, irresistible compulsions, a sense of absolute entitlement, and contempt for anyone who’s not — him.
Is Trump a racist? He says he isn’t. In fact, he’s the “least racist person” alive.
During his campaign he labeled Mexicans as murderers and rapists, and derided an unsupportive judge for having a Mexican heritage.
Now, in vulgar and derogatory language, he asserts that we don’t “need” immigrants from Africa or El Salvador, or “any more Haitians.” It’s not like we’re stand-offish; we’d welcome some extra Scandinavians.
It’s not hard to discern a theme there — white-skinned, blue-eyed Aryans are desirable, whereas dark-skinned people are worthless as U.S. citizens, a threat to American values and a drain on our resources.
Think of racism as the belief that race is “an inherent and determining factor in (a person’s) character and capabilities,” “rendering some inferior and others superior.”
Very few Americans actually believe they’re racist, even the racists. Few racists wear sheets and burn crosses. Even “good” people are capable of racist beliefs. Trump’s team knew and appealed to this, before and after the election.
Trump’s apologists draw from a standard set of dodges. We elected him to shake up a corrupt system. No more business-as-usual. Of course he will sometimes resort to gutter talk; that’s just him being genuine, rejecting political correctness. (Hillary is, was, always will be, the real menace!) As he constructs the Great American Omelet, of course he’ll have to break some eggs.
Last week I got a phone call from a friend who lived in Germany during the run-up to World War II. He was even a member of the Hitler youth, though he was later dismissed for insubordination. He harbors no love for Hitler, but he remembers Hitler all too well.
What prompted his call was Trump’s thinly veiled appeal to “Aryans,” at the same time rejecting people of the pigmented persuasion. This is how it started in Germany too — establishment of an “outsider” category, allowing a focus for endemic suspicion and resentment. The “out” group is mirrored by an “in” group — people who look and talk like decent folk should: like us. A new national identity — it’s not just “we’re all in this together,” but “us versus them.”
Godwin’s Rule states that any long conversation will eventually lead one party to compare the other to Hitler, at which point the conversation is over.
But what are conscientious people to do, what are they to say, when a man who personally witnessed the rise of Hitler feels that such a comparison is not only justified, but inevitable? Do we keep silent as we witness Trump’s assault on human values using our Presidency as his bludgeon?
The German people were criticized after the war for failing to speak out against Hitler. Who will be left to criticize us?
Jon Hauxwell, MD, is a retired
family physician who grew up in Stockton and lives outside Hays.