Bad News for Trump
“How did you go bankrupt?” “Gradually, then suddenly.”
It is too soon to call this week a turning point in the 2016 election, and way too soon to say that Hillary has this election wrapped up.
But something happened this week.
I don’t think the big thing is Trump’s foolishly tangling with Mr. Khan, nor the Purple Heart incident, nor the imagined video, nor failure to endorse Paul Ryan, nor his offhand remark that he didn’t like the structural integrity of a Boeing 777, nor any of the other odd incidents of the week, although they did not help.
The important thing is that there is now discussion of Trump’s mental health not as a matter of partisan polemics but as a matter of serious discussion. On CNN Dr. David Perry objected strenuously to people linking Donald Trump and mental illness because it stigmatizes mental illness. Read for yourself That’s right, Trump’s behavior gives mental illness a bad name, he said, and Trump should be understood for being undisciplined and immature, not for being mentally ill; calling Trump crazy is unfair to the mentally ill.
Predictable and PartisanSome of this comes from clearly partisan sources. Lawrence O’Donnell at MSNBC says “It’s becoming more and more clear that the biggest disqualifying factor as Donald Trumpas president is his mental health.” A Democratic Congresswoman Karen Bass has started a petition at Change.org to demand an evaluation of Donald Trump. Another Congressman, Ruben Gallego, did the same thing. These are the predictable partisan attacks. This blog has criticized Hillary Clinton and her campaign on numerous occasions over the past year, observing that she was flat-footed politically, that she was defensive, that she seemed tone deaf to the political winds, and that she missed opportunities to define her opponent.
This is a new Hillary, a Hillary who is running a competent campaign, redefining Trump as crazy, not the Trump explanation of Trumpism, that his is a “courageous truth teller” and “out of the box” change agent who will shake things up. The people questioning Trump’s sanity have extended outward from obvious partisans. I am presuming that the Clinton campaign is sponsoring and encouraging this. Some of this took place at the Democratic Convention. The effort is working. Trump isn’t courageous, he is crazy. That’s the explanation!
Rob Reiner asks, “Is he a “pathological liar?
“Breaking Bad” actor Brian Cranston questioned whether he was a “supreme narcissist.”
Political independent and multi-billionaire, Michael Bloomberg, at the Democratic Convention urged we “elect a sane, competent person” rather than Trump.
Robert Kagan, a foreign policy advisor to both Republicans and Democrats, said, “We can leave it to the professionals to determine exactly what to call it. Suffice to say that Donald Trump’s response to the assorted speakers at the Democratic National Convention has not been rational.”
What counts is that the Trump campaign and supporters and Fox News are now needing to defend Trump’s sanity. This puts the issue of Trump on the table as a legitimate question. If the discussion is “Is Trump sane?” then every second of the discussion hurts Trump, even people who say “Totally sane.”
Article from back in January, 2016
(Similarly, when the discussion was”Just how corrupt is Hillary?” then every second of the discussion hurt Hillary, even when people were saying “Not corrupt.” The very fact that corrupt — or crazy — is the subject of the debate means that it is a loser subject.)
The stories about Trump’s mental health have been going around for months, but until recently they were barbs and attacks from detractors. They weren’t mainstream. Fox had not needed to explain them away. Now they do.
Trump’s mental fitness became a matter of serious discussion this week, questioned with a straight face. Obama brought it up a couple of weeks ago, saying he is “Unfit to be president.” Obama was asked about it in yesterday’s press conference, the question asking whether Trump was fit to receive classified information, as is required by federal law. Obama didn’t say he was fit but did say that federal law required he get it.
The Wall Street Journal — an unabashedly Republican and anti-Obama newspaper — began asking the question and its Deputy Editor said Trump was “manifestly unfit.”
Fox News: Defending Trump. He isn’t crazy! Really!
And now Howard Kurtz, who has a Fox News TV show “On the Media”, is forced to defend Donald Trump, minimizing Trump’s unusual behavior, citing the big branded business that Trump built as evidence that it was Trump’s detractors, not Trump, who “had a screw loose.”
This blog is not attempting to resolve the actual question of Trump’s personality. What it does attempt to look at is messaging. Democrats have managed to put Trump’s mental health onto the political table for open discussion.
They have created a frame for Trump’s behavior, some of which is patently self-destructive. GOP leaders are openly saying that Trump must change, but Trump resists coaching or advice. They are frustrated with Trump but he does crazy things like campaign in Maine, not Pennsylvania and Florida, and he picks crazy fights.
Why? Why does he do such crazy things? Because he is crazy, Democrats say.
It is now a sufficiently widespread meme that Fox News has to deny it. Crazy is a tough rap to beat. How does one prove oneself sane once the idea is out there that one is crazy?
When the Wall Street Journal throws in the towel on a Republican it is evident that a change has taken place. This is the week they decided the world has accepted the Democratic interpretation of Trump. He may be a crazy-mad political genius, but that means that he is crazy first.
This week is a turning point.
Hillary Clinton did something right in the campaign, aided by Trump’s behavior recently. And Donald Trump has been doing something eccentric and out of the box for a year and this week Americans, both left and right, are wondering if they don’t now understand why: He has a screw loose.
(I write about the 2016 election, having been up close by attending some 45 presidential events, so far, in New Hampshire, Florida, Nevada, South Carolina and Oregon. Check it out: www.peterwsage.blogspot.com)