Yesterday, I somewhat reluctantly took on the question of the President’s Bigger Button tweeting and expressed the concerns that I had. It wasn’t a case of actually thinking that Trump was about to launch a preemptive nuclear strike or destroy our foreign policy agenda in Asia, but rather that the tweet would eat up the news cycle just when we were starting to make some process. I was sure that cable news would be obsessing over it, along with most of the print and online outlets. But I once again underestimated the reaction since I didn’t foresee so many of them going The Full Vox and resurrecting the idea that President Trump isn’t just wrong on policy, but is, in fact, clinically insane.
It’s not the first time we’ve heard this line of attack, but Politico discovered that it was an excellent opportunity to talk about a private briefing given to a group of almost entirely Democrats, by an Ivy League, Never Trump psychiatry professor who was willing to diagnose the patient without ever having conducted an examination.
Lawmakers concerned about President Donald Trump’s mental state summoned Yale University psychiatry professor Dr. Bandy X. Lee to Capitol Hill last month for two days of briefings about his recent behavior.
In private meetings with more than a dozen members of Congress held on Dec. 5 and 6, Lee briefed lawmakers — all Democrats except for one Republican senator, whom Lee declined to identify. Her professional warning to Capitol Hill: “He’s going to unravel, and we are seeing the signs.”
In an interview, she pointed to Trump “going back to conspiracy theories, denying things he has admitted before, his being drawn to violent videos.” Lee also warned, “We feel that the rush of tweeting is an indication of his falling apart under stress. Trump is going to get worse and will become uncontainable with the pressures of the presidency.”
So the expert they called in to brief them was none other than Bandy X. Lee. And why not? If you’re looking for a professional, unbiased, clinical evaluation of the President’s mental capacity, who better than the editor of, “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump.” Boy, they must have been on pins and needles waiting to see what she would have to say on the subject, eh?
Of course, that story was far from the only reaction along those lines. Bill Kristol decided to toss another jerry can of gas on the flames with this tweet.
Most of @POTUS's craziness seems so far to have been confined to speech not deeds. But I trust @VP has asked his Counsel to prepare a draft document transferring power in accord with Sec. 4 of 25th Amendment in case it's suddenly needed, & that he's discussed this with COS Kelly.
— Bill Kristol (@BillKristol) January 3, 2018
What’s really sad about all of this is that we’ve reached the point where one of the primary voices of reason preaching restraint on such toxic discussions turns out to be Alan Dershowitz. He was quoted as saying, “This is hope over reality. If we don’t like someone’s politics we rail against him, we campaign against him, we don’t use the psychiatric system against him. That’s just dangerous.”
Now, I can say with assurance that Vice President Pence does not, in fact, have a letter ready to go which would remove the President from office. And the Cabinet isn’t going to do it either. While it pains me to be quoting Dershowitz (among others), this is indeed a liberal hobby horse and a fantasy which lifts the spirits of those who are still very angry about the outcome of the 2016 election.
Say, does anyone else remember back when this first came up, barely a month after Trump took office when even CNN was feeling hesitant about having medical professionals violate the Goldwater Rule? Ah, good times, my friends. Good times. But sadly that’s all in the past and everything is fair game now that the midterms are getting closer.
At the bottom of this particularly odious dogpile is the question of whether or not the President’s Twitter account can be used to diagnose his mental health. Can it? Looking back at my own timeline I would imagine many of you could peruse my tweets during almost any New York Jets game this season and conclude that I was more than a few pickles short of a barrel. And I have no lack of online critics who have described me as “crazy” in one fashion or another. But am I clinically insane? Well… I don’t happen to think so. Then again, I’m not a doctor. And for that matter, I’m not so sure about Bandy X. Lee at this point either.