As if on cue, following Donald Trump’s speech about Afghanistan last Monday (8/21/17), he removed the subtlety of his mental and emotional challenges the next night in his “campaign speech” in Phoenix. As soon as he gave himself permission to walk away from the teleprompter, it was open season on the bizarre, the rash, the offensive, the nonsense, and the falsehoods. Once the speech was concluded, CNN’s Don Lemon was a little less polite in his assessment.
Since the Phoenix speech, there have predictably and fortunately been more disclosures and revelations about Trump’s mental state and how it puts the country and the world at risk in an unprecedented fashion. But fortunately for all of us, talk of his instability is becoming more and more commonplace.
Former Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, shared his thoughts Tuesday evening with Don Lemon. “I really question his ability to be — his fitness to be — in this office, and I also am beginning to wonder about his motivation for it.”
The class of professionals best equipped to answer these questions has largely abstained from speaking publicly about the President’s mental health. The principle known as the “Goldwater rule” prohibits psychiatrists from giving professional opinions about public figures without personally conducting an examination.
The Constitution contemplates, by virtue of the First Amendment, that we may freely raise concerns about elected officials, and also that in the extreme circumstance envisioned in the Twenty-Fifth Amendment, medical professionals would be free to help us understand whether the President can fulfill his duties. If those who know the most are the least free to speak, neither Amendment can function properly. The Goldwater rule was an overreaction to psychiatrists wielding their professional badge to do politics. Today, the profession risks protecting itself from the taint of politics by withholding expertise from a vital public debate—a situation that seems no less irresponsible.
It is not just a matter of professionals in the field of mental health to offer their assessments of the president. All of us as citizens must include the mental and emotional state of the president as we make judgments about whether he or she is fit to serve.
Consider the words of Hillary Clinton who experienced Trump in an “up-close and personal” manner that would make most of us cringe. In her forthcoming book, “What Happened,” she writes about how Trump was stalking her on the stage of the second debate at Washington University in St. Louis:
“This is not okay, I thought,” Clinton said, reading from her book. “It was the second presidential debate and Donald Trump was looming behind me. Two days before, the world heard him brag about groping women. Now we were on a small stage and no matter where I walked, he followed me closely, staring at me, making faces.
“It was incredibly uncomfortable. He was literally breathing down my neck. My skin crawled. It was one of those moments where you wish you could hit pause and ask everyone watching, ‘Well, what would you do?’ Do you stay calm, keep smiling and carry on as if he weren’t repeatedly invading your space? Or do you turn, look him in the eye and say loudly and clearly, ‘Back up, you creep. Get away from me. I know you love to intimidate women, but you can’t intimidate me, so back up.’”
Here is the audio (excuse the opening commercial).
A major problem that our country has, and one that is rarely discussed, is that as individuals, we need to improve our “creep detection” ability. Innocent people continuously are victimized by others who one way or another may fit within the definition of a “creep.” Hillary Clinton tells us how she saw that in Donald Trump and millions of other Americans did as well. Unfortunately, millions did not see that, or they did see it and did not care.
Using such loose language can be dangerous. But with everything that we see in Donald Trump and the risks that he presents to us. we are obliged to truly call it as we see it. Short of him receiving some remarkable therapy, he is thoroughly unfit to be out president and either by the Twenty-Fifth Amendment or impeachment, he must be removed from the position.