What Will Become of the Trump Presidency

What Will Become of the Trump Presidency?

 

I’ve lived during the administrations of thirteen U.S. Presidents and nothing has come close to that of the 45th president, Donald Trump.

Trump’s campaign, transition and four months in office have been marked by almost daily outrageous behavior that have all been sufficient to bring any previous president’s term to an end, yet Trump perseveres. 

Part of his perseverance has come because both houses of Congress are controlled by the Republican Party.  In other administrations Congress would have not turned a blind eye to some of Trump’s behavior, but finally there seems to be sufficient misconduct and ineptitude to bring an end to Trump and Company.

Some of the examples of egregious action have been;

A failure to make public his income tax.

Failure to place his business interests in a blind trust.

Blatant nepotism by bringing his son-in-law into the administration, giving him a high security clearance and placing him in charge of multiple areas of administration.

Firing James Comey, the FBI director, at first saying it was because he wasn’t doing his job right, but later admitting that it was because the Trump campaign and even Trump himself were the objects of an FBI investigation of whether there was collusion of the campaign with Russian intelligence in the form of computer hacking and leaks to the media of items found in the hacks.  He justified the firing because he thought the investigation was preventing him from accomplishing his agenda, and the investigation was a "witch hunt".

Placing outspoken critics of numerous departments within the administration in charge of the departments they have wanted destroyed or weakened.

Inviting top level Russian officials to the White House and then sharing highly classified intelligence with them placing foreign government operatives in danger.

Attempting to coerce the director of the FBI to stop an investigation of General Michael Flynn’s connections with Russia and Turkey.

Placing Michael Flynn in charge of Homeland Security after being warned by President Obama and Loretta Lynch that Flynn was a problem and under investigation.

Failing to act promptly to relieve Flynn of duty when it was made known that Flynn had had secret meetings with and conversations with Russians that he did not reveal on questioning during Congressional confirmation hearings.

Failing to inform Vice President Pence of Flynn’s problems once they became known.

Tweeting that President Obama had had Trump tower wire-tapped.

Tweeting that everything the mainstream media said in contradiction to the Trump campaigns official story was “fake news”.

Warning the country that when he became elected there would be questions about the legitimacy of the victory by the “Fake News Media”. 

Smearing Federal Judges who stayed several executive orders regarding restricting immigration because while they were ostensibly about national security they were deemed actually discriminatory against the Muslim religion.

There have been so many scandals that it is hard to keep up.  I’m sure that some have been omitted.

How might Trump be removed from office?

There are actually safeguards against political vendetta that make impeachment of the President difficult.  Taking gifts from a foreign power – the so-called emoluments clause – is one route.  Receiving domestic gifts and profiting from domestic operations do not count.

Article II of the U.S. Constitution states that the President “shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other High Crimes and Misdemeanors."

Some explanation of the word Misdemeanors is in order.  This word did not mean, as it does today, a class of crimes separate from a felony.  Instead it described especially bad behavior.  That phrase comes straight from English common law, and was familiar to those who wrote the constitution.

The Twenty-fifth Amendment to the constitution provides for the removal of a president who is judged to be “mentally unfit”.  To avoid a situation where a president was alive but unfit – a situation not accounted for in the constitution – “the Twenty-fifth Amendment was added to the Constitution in February, 1967. Under Section 4, a President can be removed if he is judged to be “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.” The assessment can be made either by the Vice-President and a majority of the Cabinet secretaries or by a congressionally appointed body, such as a panel of medical experts.

If the President objects—a theoretical crisis that scholars call “contested removal”—Congress has three weeks to debate and decide the issue. A two-thirds majority in each chamber is required to remove the President. There is no appeal.”  The definition of what conditions might be responsible for leaving the President “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office” was left intentionally vague.

Is there the political will to remove Trump at this time?

In an article in the New Yorker, Paul Taylor, head of Niskanen Institute, a libertarian think tank ventured “ “My guess is that there’s only between fifty and a hundred Republican members of the House that are truly enthusiastic about Donald Trump as President,” he said. “The balance sees him as somewhere between a deep and dangerous embarrassment and a threat to the Constitution.”

The impetus to this level of disapproval of the President lies in his low approval rating, forty percent – the lowest ever recorded at this point in a presidency – and the fact that Trump’s low approval rating has drug the approval rating level of the Republican Party down seven points to forty percent.

Asked if he had ever seen approval this low, Taylor said, ““No, nobody has, but we’ve never lived in a Third World banana republic. I don’t mean that gratuitously. I mean the reality is he is governing as if he is the President of a Third World country: power is held by family and incompetent loyalists whose main calling card is the fact that Donald Trump can trust them, not whether they have any expertise.”


Because of Trump’s personality and his imposing 6’3” frame and heft, he has become increasingly insulated from unpleasant news by White House staffers who are afraid of him.  There is no little boy to tell the emperor that he has no clothes. 

“There is no one around him who has the ability to restrain any of his impulses, on any issue ever, for any reason,” Steve Schmidt, a veteran Republican consultant, said, adding, “Where is the ‘What the fuck’ chorus?”

This insulation makes it unlikely that Trump will change course or that a majority of cabinet members will step forward to say the President is mentally unfit.  It will take a called Congressional Committee and three weeks of debate.

When the Twenty-Fifth Amendment was written the context was the wake of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.  The question of how the country would have coped had the president survived in a permanent coma.  Three weeks of debate would have gone uncontested.  Three weeks of debate in the present situation, with the President maneuvering, sending out constant Tweet Storms, would be extremely trying for Congress and the country.

What conditions might the President have that would warrant removal?

Psychiatrists and psychologists are prohibited by an ethical code called “The Goldwater Rule” from venturing diagnoses on individuals who they have not personally examined, so comments about the President’s status are usually worded in the hypothetical, “A person with similar behavior…”  Nonetheless, a number of mental health professionals have commented out of concern for the individual who may be suffering from mental deterioration.

Of concern is the fact that Trump’s father, Fred, developed Alzheimer’s disease in his eightys, and some of Trump’s behavior is consistent with early dementia.  Also, comparison of Trump’s speech patterns ten years ago with those today reveal a deterioration in his ability to express himself, and his ability to connect thoughts.  As a French member of the media put it, he seems to pull ideas out of “thematic clouds” with no connection between thoughts.  There are other cause of dementia other than Alzheimer's Disease.

One person ventured the possibility that he might be suffering from a disease that has affected monarchs and powerful people in the past: neurosyphilis.  Neurosyphilis has been called the Great Imitator.  The spirochete that causes syphilis may affect the nervous system in a number of ways including, but not limited to;

  • Abnormal gait
  • Blindness
  • Confusion, disorientation
  • Sudden personality changes
  • Changes in mental stability
  • Dementia
  • Depression
  • Headache
  • Fecal and urinary incontinence
  • Irritability
  • Memory problems
  • Mood disturbances
  • Numbness in the toes, feet, or legs
  • Poor concentration
  • Psychosis[5]
  • Seizures
  • Neck stiffness
  • Tremors
  • Visual disturbances. There may be the sign of Argyll Robertson pupils, which are bilateral small pupils that constrict when the patient focuses on a near object but do not constrict when exposed to bright light.
  • Muscle weakness

 

One does not have to posit the presence of some rare or unusual medical condition, though.  A study at Duke University found that the medical records and biographies from Washington to Nixon found that almost half had some form of mental illness during their lives, and those ranged from depression, to excessive anxiety, to substance abuse.

Much of Trump’s life-long behavior is related to the fact that he fulfills all nine criteria for an individual with Narcissistic Personality.

Narcissistic Personality Disorder DSM-5 301.81 (F60.81)

“ NPD frequently coexists with other psychiatric disorders. NPD is a relatively recent diagnostic category. Its origins stem from a great effort between psychoanalysts and psychoanalytic psychotherapists to recognize a cluster of predominantly difficult patients who could not be classified as psychotic, not typically neurotic and overall not responsive to conventional psycho therapeutic treatment options (Gildersleeve, 2012).”

Patients with NPD don’t come to the doctor for their underlying condition, but for other complaints like depression or anxiety.  Narcissists are resistant to therapy because they see nothing wrong with the way they see the world; a world in which their wants and needs are paramount and supersede those of others, and because they are very sensitive to criticism of any kind.

NPD is not a criterion for removal from office, but actions committed as a result of Trump’s personality, and inability to react to criticism in a healthy way, may be what brings the nation to a crisis. 

Views: 118

Comment by Rodney Roe on May 31, 2017 at 1:51am

It's the middle of the night and anyone without insomnia should be sleeping.  What do you think will happen?

Comment by Jonathan Wolfman on May 31, 2017 at 3:30am

the quote in the middle says it all    

Comment by koshersalaami on May 31, 2017 at 5:20am

That's been a question for a while now. 

And he may have a shot at dodging that bullet. A very strange shot. 

One thing in his administration is working, though most people haven't followed this closely, possibly including him. He has the best chance of getting the Two State Solution of any President I've yet seen because it turns out Arab governments are very hopeful about his chances and have been telling Israelis this at international conferences. (That they're telling Israelis anything at international conferences is unusual.) They're also telling the Israelis that if this happens, they want to normalize relations. Given that he's also liked by the Israeli government, he is in an interesting position. 

On one hand, it would be great to get something good out of this guy. On the other, anything that gives him good press could be considered dangerous. Plus I don't know if he has the sense to really follow this. 

Comment by Rodney Roe on May 31, 2017 at 5:47am

kosh, that is a good point.  It has not been talked about much in the press, possibly because there have been so many false starts in the past, but also because he doesn't seem aware of it and there are so many other things to write and talk about.

I am a cynic, I guess.  I think that Trump likes strong men.  He sees Benjamin Netanyahu that way and Salman of Saudi Arabia, and Kim Jung Un, and Vladimir Putin and Rodrigo Duterte.  He would like to be numbered among them.  Ironically, that might bring something good about.  I've also wondered if Jared Kushner who seems to have his ear on a lot of things has been working in the background toward that end.  

Comment by Rodney Roe on May 31, 2017 at 5:53am

Terry, that lack of coherence may be one of the signs that he is becoming mentally unfit.  Much of Trump's success in real estate has come through bullying less powerful people, cheating people out of what was due them, and the use of rafts of lawyers.  I don't think that takes a great deal of intelligence, but it was apparently coherent.  And, judging from the large number of bankruptcies he has declared he wasn't so good at that.  He admits that being president is much harder.  "Who knew this would be so hard?"

Comment by JMac1949 Today on May 31, 2017 at 7:19am

That the Beast "45" is crazy is without question.  That he is unfit to serve as POTUS is without question.  That he could and should be impeached is also without question; however, so were Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon.  Of that gang only Clinton and Nixon faced impeachment.  Clinton was acquitted by the Senate and Nixon resigned in disgrace before the House actually impeached his venal ass and was unilaterally pardoned by Gerald Ford, a man who was never nominated or elected to the Presidency.

Going back further, Woodrow Wilson suffered a stroke and his wife and staff illegally took over his administration.  

Herbert Hoover was a corrupt incompetent who sent the FBI to break down doors and arrest Communists and Socialists, authorized the Mexican Repatriation program to "help unemployed Mexican citizens return home."  The program was largely a forced migration of approximately 500,000 people to Mexico, and continued until 1937.  In the summer of 1932 he called out US troops under General Douglas MacArthur to disperse US Army veterans protesting in Washington D.C.  On July 28, MacArthur ordered George Patton's 3rd Cavalry to advance on protesting veterans known as the "Bonus Army" with tear gas and bayonets. Patton was dissatisfied with MacArthur's conduct, as he recognized the legitimacy of the veterans' complaints and had himself earlier refused to issue the order to employ armed force to disperse the veterans. Patton later stated that, though he found the duty "most distasteful", he also felt that putting the marchers down prevented an insurrection and saved lives and property.

So far none of the actions of the Beast "45" have begun to measure up to the atrocities of Nixon or Hoover; on the other hand he's only held office for a little over four months.

Read and enjoyed.

Comment by Rodney Roe on May 31, 2017 at 8:05am

JMac, it all depends on the mood of congress.  If they feel that they are benefiting in some way from the President's deranged or even illegal actions - I believe that using U.S. troops against citizens is actually illegal, although sending the Ntional Guard is not - the president can get away with a lot.  Reagan was not competent through some portion of his second term.  Franklin Pierce's son died shortly before Pierce took office and he is described as being overcome with unremitting sorrow during his term in office, which sounds a lot like depression.

It is human nature to help allies and friends even when they are not competent.  As an intern there was a doctor on the hospital staff who was a British POW who helped build the actual Bridge Over the River Kwai.  He suffered from dementia, had short term memory loss, still admitted patients to the hospital and was followed around by friends who rewrote the orders on his charts so that he would not hurt anyone. His dementia may have been secondary to nutritional deficiency suffered as a POW.  For that reason everyone wanted to protect him. He desperately wanted things to be different, attending every conference and then asking in the hall afterward what the conference was about.  He once stopped me in the hallway and asked if I would explain the Henderson-Hasselbalch equation.  I did, he said in his colonial British accent, "I see, thank you."  Ten minutes later he stopped me in another hallway with the same question.

I imagine that for various reasons people have done the same for many presidents. Their motives may have been much more self-serving, but the result was the same.

The question is whether Trump will be seen as too much baggage for the GOP to carry.

Comment by JMac1949 Today on May 31, 2017 at 8:13am

I was listening to NPR and heard that fewer than 150 Republicans in Congress support the Beast "45", the rest of them are tap dancing and farting along a tight rope, trying to figure out how they might be re-elected.  A few, like John McCain, have publicly disowned the Beast.

Comment by Rodney Roe on May 31, 2017 at 9:50am

Terry,

Doing deals that help Putin and Russia may be the "vig" on some of Trump's deals?

Comment by Foolish Monkey on May 31, 2017 at 12:03pm

COVFEFE!!

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