On my desk I have a growing pile of news articles I intend to sift through for evidence of Donald Trump’s mental state. I’m pretty sure I know what I’m going to find, but I feel compelled to do it. This is no idle concern; this man is capable of doing us all in if the wrong impulse strikes him at the wrong time.
In the meantime, I recommend the diagnosis Andrew Sullivan, former editor of The New Republic, offers in an article he wrote for New York magazine, entitled, “The Madness of King Donald.” Maybe a couple of excerpts will entice you to check out the whole piece:
On Trump’s lies: “Trump’s lies are different. They are direct refutations of reality–and their propagation and repetition is about enforcing his power rather than wriggling out of a political conundrum. They are attacks on the very possibility of a reasoned discourse, the kind of bald-faced lies that authoritarians [see my piece, on this blog, “Donald Trump is a lot like Charles I”] issue as a way to test loyalty and force their subjects into submission.” We’re talking about the President of the United States here!
Sullivan has some advice on how to deal with a president who is a pathological liar: “…rebut every single lie. Insist moreover that each lie is retracted–and journalists in press conferences should back up their colleagues with repeated follow-ups if Spicer [Trump’s chronically untruthful press secretary] tries to duck the plain truth. Do not allow them to move on to another question. Interviews with the president himself should not leave a lie alone; the interviewer should press and press and press until the lie is conceded. The press must not be afraid of even calling the president a liar to his face if he persists.”
If you object that such behavior by journalists could be hazardous to their well being, Sullivan has advice for that, from Polish dissident Adam Michnik: “In the life of every honorable man [sic] comes a difficult moment…when the simple statement that this is black and that is white requires paying a high price.” Michnik spent years in prison for standing up to lies. Sullivan asks if “American journalists cannot risk a little access or a nasty tweet for the same essential civic duty?”
I think what touched me most about Sullivan’s piece was his admission that most of us are more than a b it unnerved by the fact that Donald Trump has brought madness to the very core of our country. He commiserates: “I think this is a fundamental reason why so many of us have been so unsettled, anxious and near panic these last few months. It is not so much this president’s agenda. That always changes from administration to administration. It is that when the linchpin of an entire country is literally delusional, clinically deceptive, and responds to any attempt to correct the record with rage and vengeance, everyone is always on edge.”
Sullivan does not let any of us off the hook, and I have to admit I already feel tired thinking about the effort it’s going to take to make things right again. But what other choice do we have?
You’ll find Sullivan’s excellent article here. Check it out, if you have time.