When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.
It seems ages ago. Back when many of us dismissed Trump as little more than the bad-joke product of a malformed Republican primary process, Trump accepted his party’s nomination by declaring “I am your voice.” Remember?
I wondered then, and wonder now: for whom, precisely, did Trump believe he was speaking? If he meant “everyone,” a Holmes-like process of elimination might come in handy. For in actuality Trump speaks for a small and rapidly-decreasing number of people. We already know by Trump’s own actions and statements that he does not speak for:
- Democrats, or liberals, or most moderates.
- Those outside America, as America now “comes first.”
- Women, whom he denigrates.
- Religious minorities, including Jews and Muslims, ditto.
- The LGBT community, ditto.
- Ethnic minorities, ditto.
- People worried about health care.
- Anyone who has ever criticized him, as he won’t speak or work with members of that large and growing demographic.
- Sober-minded conservatives, who sensibly wish to preserve the many good things still existing in this country, rather than obliterating them at will.
- His advisors, who have learned that through obsequious flattery, Trump can be manipulated like silly-putty.
- The skilled, whom he dislikes.
- Intellectuals, of whom he is jealous, and dislikes.
- The increasingly large number of people he routinely insults.
- Anyone with a sense of humor, as Trump has none.
- Anyone propelled by a philosophy of ideas, as Trump’s only nominal idea is an anti-idea of opposition.
So what’s left? Trump only speaking for, and to, Trump himself? The president may soon be restricted to thoughts without valid outside input – Trump’s misanthropic and paranoiac tendencies push him ever closer to complete conceptual isolation. Like most non-psychologists, I don’t know technically crazy, but we’re now at a point when technicalities are losing their importance.
Estimation of the president’s mental health is an occasional quip in mainstream editorials, but to my knowledge it hasn’t been a serious topic of mainstream reporting. Perhaps it should be. Only mental health professionals can accurately assess genuine mental malfunction, but a concerned citizenry can legitimately raise the question of a president’s mental health.
It’s a difficult and stigmatized question. But as a country we’ve already traveled a long way on the road of the previously-undiscussed – even sober-minded columnists like David Brooks openly state that the Trump administration is already a failure, and wonder how it might be terminated. At this time, I doubt that the president’s emotional problems rise to the level of Constitutional incapacity, but the pressures of office combined with Trump’s misanthropy and natural isolationism make his future, and ours, one of dangerous unknowns. Mental-health professionals are reluctant to offer “remote diagnoses,” but informed opinion and open dialogue now seem prudent.
We don’t know if we are facing the “impossible” truth of a mentally-ill or even delusional president, but unless we openly inquire, it might just be too late when the matter is beyond doubt.
Of course, Trump will deride any suggestion that his mental health might be imperfect as “fake news” conjured up by his enemies. At least he’ll right about the enemies part – increasingly there is no one else left. I believe we should inquire, nonetheless.