George B. Reed Jr.: Trump’s (and our) future

April 25, 2017

Of the recent election, journalist P.J. O’Rourke observes, “America is experiencing the most severe outbreak of mass psychosis since the Salem Witch Trials of 1692.” O’Rourke, a die-hard Republican, supported Hillary Clinton.

Because of the “Goldwater Rule,” mental health professionals must now refrain from analyzing public figures. During the 1964 presidential campaign 1,189 psychiatrists declared Barry Goldwater psychologically unfit to be president. This prompted the American Psychiatric Association to rule it unethical for a professional to offer an opinion without first conducting an examination. However, from Donald Trump’s behavior and demeanor a cadre of knowledgeable observers has proposed a diagnosis of “malignant narcissism.” This condition, among other things, impairs a person’s ability to see reality or to empathize with others. Logic can’t persuade people with this condition because they didn’t arrive at their convictions through logical thinking in the first place. The classic symptoms of this personality disorder are extreme self-absorption, grandiosity, constant exaggeration, inappropriate, off-the-wall responses, always blaming everything on someone else and a general lack of self-control. Sound like anybody we might know?

During the primary and presidential campaigns and the early months of his presidency these symptoms have been evident to many in the news media and professional world and by now should also be apparent to the general electorate. But can anything be done about this deplorable, even dangerous, situation until the congressional elections of 2018? Probably not. Our Constitution provides that a president can only be impeached for “high crimes and misdemeanors,” the legal interpretation of which is still rather vague. Even flagrant mismanagement and repeated bad decisions would probably not fall into the “high crimes” category. But collusion with Russia on the 2016 election definitely would. We’ll just have to wait this one out.

When the facts in the Watergate case became public some Republican stalwarts, led by Tennessee’s Senator Howard Baker, joined in the move to impeach Richard Nixon. The time had come to put politics aside for the sake of the nation’s, as well as the party’s, interests. While today’s bitter partisanship might appear unprecedented (actually, it’s not), there might eventually be enough Republican statesmen who would vote to remove Trump if things continue to deteriorate. But the big question is when will his blindly-loyal supporters in the general electorate wake up and see Trump for what really he is. They are apparently not that well-connected to reality and this could take a while longer. But the Republican leadership must already realize that both the nation and the GOP itself would be better off with Mike Pence in the White House and The Donald in Trump Towers.

A simple House majority could impeach (indict) Trump. But conviction and removal from office would require a two-thirds (67 votes) Senate majority. The possibility of this taking place before the 2018 mid-term congressional elections doesn’t look too promising when we do the arithmetic. Impeachment would require substantial Republican-Democratic cooperation. In the present ultra-partisan environment that task looks foreboding, if not impossible.

And is China an actual threat today? Probably not. We owe them too much money and they make too much of our stuff for either of us to risk a real conflict. It’s North Korea that worries me. Their guy is less stable than ours.

George B. Reed Jr., who lives in Rossville, can be reached by email at reed1600@bellsouth.net.