It has been building since Trump entered the race: his increasingly erratic rhetoric has at last drawn the steady eye of the mainstream media, which finds it can no longer simply ignore him. We have recently been introduced to the rare spectacle of the mainstream media fact-checking Trump real-time. And now, perhaps, talk of Trump’s mental health now promotes better ratings than simply giving Trump air time.
We have seen a lot of eyebrows raised on all sides of late as speculation grows that Trump is not quite right in the head, and then Peggy Noonan broke down all the barriers in an op-ed in The Washington Post, The Week They Decided Donald Trump Was Crazy.
“Here is a truth of life. When you act as if you’re insane, people are liable to think you’re insane. That’s what happened this week. People started to become convinced he was nuts, a total flake.”
This brought about a discussion on MSNBC:
Which was followed Friday night by another discussion on CNN, with Outfront host Erin Burnett, asking her guests what they thought about Trump’s mental health:
Alex Burns of The New York Times brought up Trump’s temperament:
“When you look at polls testing the match-up between Trump and Clinton, his temperament, his personal capacity to perform the responsibilities of the presidency is probably the biggest hurdle for him, just outside of various things he had done to offend various groups of voters.”
He mentioned speaking to Republican voters who say they’re not sure about Trump and added that “I was talking to a Republican donor today who said the same thing, ‘I used to think he was crazy like a fox, now I’m not sure it’s like a fox.’”
It is obviously never a good thing when for a candidate when so many members of his own party are questioning not only his temperament, but his sanity.
Trump supporter Keyleigh McEnany jumped to Trump’s defense of course and claimed that talking about Trump as insane is “overreach” and “unbelievable” as though the things Trump has said are, somehow, believable and not overreach, like accusing Portland, Maine’s peaceful Somali community of being a hotbed of terrorism.
Burnett reminded her panel that Trump has himself accused Hillary Clinton of being “unstable” and “unhinged,” a case of projection that is not paying Trump any dividends.
To that, MoveOn’s Karine Jean-Pierre responded that Trump “knows what he’s doing and we’re giving him an excuse.”
Is Trump, as Mark Cuban said, “batsh*t crazy”? Amanda Carpenter maintained that while Trump is not insane, he is making the rest of us so:
“Here’s the thing. I think it is ridiculous for serious people to seriously question Donald Trump’s mental capacity. What is happening is that he is driving the rest of us insane. He says these things deliberately to get a charge. He traffics on conspiracy theories to stir it up. He likes to stir up traffic on-line.”
“He’s doing it to us, he’s not insane. I agree with you,” she said to Karine Jean-Pierre, “he does know what he’s doing. We shouldn’t be falling for it.”
Unless Trump is examined and a diagnosis offered to all of us, we will likely never know the answer to the question, “is Trump insane.”
However, as far as qualifications for the presidency go, there is not much effective difference between being insane and acting insane, because the world will react to Trump as someone who is mentally unstable. As Basil Smikle, Executive Chairman of the New York State Democratic Party told Burnett, “We have no sense of his compass.”
There may well be a method to his madness, as Smikle argued. However, if Trump is only acting unstable, it really makes little difference in the long run.
It is scarcely more reassuring to have a president who only acts crazy, and the result will be the same. Reactions from overseas to an American president who not only says but does things from a position of apparent insanity, can never equal a positive outcome for the United States.
Hrafnkell Haraldsson, a social liberal with leanings toward centrist politics has degrees in history and philosophy. His interests include, besides history and philosophy, human rights issues, freedom of choice, religion, and the precarious dichotomy of freedom of speech and intolerance. He brings a slightly different perspective to his writing, being that he is neither a follower of an Abrahamic faith nor an atheist but a polytheist, a modern-day Heathen who follows the customs and traditions of his Norse ancestors. He maintains his own blog, A Heathen’s Day, which deals with Heathen and Pagan matters, and Mos Maiorum Foundation www.mosmaiorum.org, dedicated to ethnic religion. He has also contributed to NewsJunkiePost, GodsOwnParty and Pagan+Politics.
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