Made giddy by the prospect of adding to their toolbox a new technique for swapping out a defective president, the Democrats are kicking themselves for not having passed such a bill decades earlier to cancel an erratic president like Trump.
Would it really have worked, though? While we can imagine how a new law might replace a physically compromised president, it’s inconceivable that Congress and a commission would yank a president from office just because he’s acting crazy. Trump has been triggering 25th Amendment talk—from serious observers, not just partisan takedown fantasists—since before he gave his inaugural address in 2017, and he shows no sign of slowing down. But no one with the power to do anything about it has seriously broached the subject.
Trump has always been a scenery eater, but since sidelining his press secretary in early 2019 to assume the role of chief White House spokesman for himself, he has given us an almost daily, detailed view of his brainworks, one that might even convince skeptics that he’s lost his mind. Remember when, talking about his China trade war to reporters, he looked to the skies and declared, “I am the chosen one”? Or the same day, when he thanked a conspiracy theorist saying the Jewish people love Trump as if he’s the King of Israel for all that he’s done for that nation? Combine his messiah boasting with his 2019 observation that Jews who vote for Democrats are “disloyal,” and you have the opening argument for his commitment hearing.
Remember his offer to buy Greenland and his tiff with the Danish prime minister who called Trump’s plan “absurd”? Proposing the purchase of a portion of another nation isn’t nuts on its face. But expecting a servile response to an offer and then taking the rejection personally is. Take Trump’s view, reported in the Atlantic, that dead U.S. soldiers are “losers” and “suckers.” Insensitive or wack? Or his soft approval of the QAnon nonsense. Or his reported proposal to nuke hurricanes, or his belief that windmills cause cancer. Or his self-comparisons to Abraham Lincoln and Winston Churchill. His loopy notions about using disinfectant (internally) and ultraviolet light (also internally) to treat Covid-19. Accusing more than a dozen citizens of “treason.” Do you know anybody aside from Trump who imagines that nobody reads the Bible more, nobody knows more about taxes, nobody knows more about nuclear weapons, nobody has a better temperament or knows more about renewable energy, nobody builds walls better, and nobody has more respect for women or is less racist than he?
These aren’t examples of just a drunk guy at the end of the bar talking to keep awake. Taken together, Trump’s deviations from “normal” behavior sketch a man in perpetual psychological imbalance, ready to crash hard at any time. No less an authority on political sanity than Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) diagnosed Trump as nuts during the 2016 campaign—that is, before becoming his ally. “I think he’s a kook. I think he’s crazy. I think he’s unfit for office,” Graham said in a February 2016 interview—before spending the next four years in unquestioning support of his new leader.
Graham has had lots of company in his first take on the subject. Psychologists and psychiatrists have been assessing Trump from afar, declaring him a malignant narcissist, a sociopath, delusional, the victim of cognitive decline, and all of the above. And, some of them think Trump’s getting worse. “Increasingly, he’s not able to be coherent in terms of making complete, coherent sentences, not repeating words, not looking for words, not repeating concepts and not trailing off of his initial train of thought,” said Yale School of Medicine forensic psychiatrist Bandy X. Lee, editor of The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 27 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President, in an April 2019 interview. Last year, my fellow lay…