Tuesday, August 09, 2016

Attention, Attention: It Is Now Politically Incorrect To Note That Mr. Trumpanzee Is Off His Rocker


Sunday a Washington Post/ABC News poll came out showing that 74% of registered voters disapprove of how Mr. Trumpanzee handled the Khan family. Only 13% approve. Focus groups by Republican Frank Luntz have found something much worse: Trump's attack on the Khan's was the straw that broke the camel's back for many voters, who now have a hardened anti-Trump bias and will not hear his future arguments. Maybe he should have seen that coming.

One of the most popular columns Sunday was in the NY Times, Maureen Dowd's satirical look at Trump's megalomania, narcissism and mental illness, Crazy About the Presidency. In fact, there has been so much chatter about Señor Trumpanzee's mental illness-- including from our own resident psychologist-- that the American Psychiatric Association issued a statement suggesting members not refer to Trump's mental illness unless they have personally evaluated him. Maria Oquendo, President of the association, said that "it is unethical for a psychiatrist to offer a professional opinion unless he or she has conducted an examination and has been granted proper authorization for such a statement."

Jim Gutenberg, writing for the Sunday NY Times tried grappling with how reporters are supposed to cover the obviously deranged Trumpanzee. "If you’re a working journalist and you believe that Donald J. Trump is a demagogue playing to the nation’s worst racist and nationalistic tendencies, that he cozies up to anti-American dictators and that he would be dangerous with control of the United States nuclear codes," he asks, "how the heck are you supposed to cover him? ... If you view a Trump presidency as something that’s potentially dangerous, then your reporting is going to reflect that. You would move closer than you’ve ever been to being oppositional. That’s uncomfortable and uncharted territory for every mainstream, nonopinion journalist I’ve ever known, and by normal standards, untenable."
Covering Mr. Trump as an abnormal and potentially dangerous candidate is more than just a shock to the journalistic system. It threatens to throw the advantage to his news conference-averse opponent, Hillary Clinton, who should draw plenty more tough-minded coverage herself. She proved that again last week with her assertion on Fox News Sunday that James Comey, director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, had declared her to be truthful in her answers about her decision to use a private email server for official State Department business-- a grossly misleading interpretation of an F.B.I. report that pointed up various falsehoods in her public explanations.

And, most broadly, it upsets balance, that idealistic form of journalism with a capital “J” we’ve been trained to always strive for.

But let’s face it: Balance has been on vacation since Mr. Trump stepped onto his golden Trump Tower escalator last year to announce his candidacy. For the primaries and caucuses, the imbalance played to his advantage, captured by the killer statistic of the season: His nearly $2 billion in free media was more than six times as much as that of his closest Republican rival.

Now that he is the Republican nominee for president, the imbalance is cutting against him. Journalists and commentators are analyzing his policy pronouncements and temperament with an eye toward what it would all look like in the Oval Office-- something so many of them viewed as an impossibility for so long.

You can see it from the minute the television news day starts, on the set of Morning Joe on MSNBC. A few months ago media writers were describing a too-cozy relationship between Mr. Trump and the show’s hosts, Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski.

Yet there was Mr. Scarborough on Wednesday asking the former Central Intelligence Agency director Michael V. Hayden whether there were safeguards in place to ensure that if Mr. Trump “gets angry, he can’t launch a nuclear weapon,” given the perception that he might not be “the most stable guy.”

Then Mr. Scarborough shared an alarming conversation he said he had with a “foreign policy expert” who had given Mr. Trump a national security briefing. “Three times he asked about the use of nuclear weapons,” Mr. Scarborough said, describing one of the questions as “If we have them, why can’t we use them?”

...Trump is a political novice who has spent his career running a private company and starring in a hit reality show. He’s hardly an unknown, but there is so much we still don’t know about his views and his familiarity with the major issues. His positions would be big news even if they didn’t so often seem to break with decades-old policy consensus (which they do).

The media reaction to it all has been striking, what the Columbia Journalism Review called “a Murrow moment.” It’s not unusual to see news stories describe him as “erratic” without attribution to an opponent. The “fact checks” of his falsehoods continue to pile up in staggering numbers, far outpacing those of Mrs. Clinton. And, on Sunday, the CNN Reliable Sources host Brian Stelter called upon journalists and opinion makers to challenge Mr. Trump’s “dangerous” claims that the electoral system is rigged against him. Failure to do so would be unpatriotic, Mr. Stelter said.

While there are several examples of conservative media criticism of Mr. Trump this year, the candidate and his supporters are reprising longstanding accusations of liberal bias. “The media is trying to take Donald Trump out,” Rush Limbaugh declared last week.

A lot of core Trump supporters certainly view it that way. That will only serve to worsen their already dim view of the news media, which initially failed to recognize the power of their grievances, and therefore failed to recognize the seriousness of Mr. Trump’s candidacy.

This, however, is what being taken seriously looks like. As Ms. Ryan put it to me, Mr. Trump’s candidacy is “extraordinary and precedent-shattering” and “to pretend otherwise is to be disingenuous with readers.”

It would also be an abdication of political journalism’s most solemn duty: to ferret out what the candidates will be like in the most powerful office in the world.

It may not always seem fair to Mr. Trump or his supporters. But journalism shouldn’t measure itself against any one campaign’s definition of fairness. It is journalism’s job to be true to the readers and viewers, and true to the facts, in a way that will stand up to history’s judgment. To do anything less would be untenable.
Most people know Barry McCaffrey because he's an NBC national-security commentator and is on TV a lot. He has that position because he's a retired 4 star general, in fact the most highly decorated general, with 3 Purple Hearts (unlike Mr. Trumpanzee's, real ones). Last week he said he would not be voting for Mr. Trumpanzee and explained why in his hometown paper, the Seattle Times.
The shameful reaction by presidential candidate Donald Trump to the mother and father of U.S. Army Capt. Humayun S.M. Khan prompts me to state publicly that Trump should never serve as our commander in chief. The decorated Capt. Khan, who was killed in action in Iraq at age 27 while bravely defending his soldiers during a suicide attack, is the best America offers. His grieving parents were understandably outraged at the degrading notion that America should have a religious screen, legally denying immigration status to Muslims.

Trump’s cruel cultural jab at Ghazala Kahn as a grieving Gold Star mother is simply the final straw. In my judgment, Trump, if elected, would provoke a political and constitutional crisis within a year. He has called for the illegal torture of enemy detainees. He has called for the deliberate targeting and murder of civilians as retribution. He has questioned whether the U.S. should actually fulfill our defense obligations under the NATO pact. These NATO obligations are a U.S. Senate-ratified treaty that Trump should know is the highest law of the land.

Further, Trump has implied that the U.S. should encourage the proliferation of nuclear weapons-- allies like Japan and South Korea were urged to become nuclear powers. He has praised Saddam Hussein as an effective anti-terrorist fighter. Hussein was a mass murderer who targeted his own people with an inhumane vengeance to include employing chemical weapons.

Trump has publicly praised Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has become a major threat to Western Europe with his invasion of Ukraine and muscular threats to the Baltic States and NATO regional military forces. Putin has also managed to reverse Russia’s earlier steady march toward a law-based state and is turning that magnificent country into a criminal oligarchy.

Finally, it is concerning that Trump lacks the caution and careful judgment that is required by a future president of the United States when forming national-security and foreign-policy decisions. Trump was shameful in his insulting criticism of U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who is one of the most venerated American military heroes since World War II. Trump has boasted that his Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps time at a small military high school made him more knowledgeable about national security than most career military professionals. He has stated he knows more about the Islamic State than the generals of the U.S. Armed Forces. Trump has also suggested we can walk away from our U.S. Treasury debt to the international community in a form of selective bankruptcy. This would be a curious form of collective economic suicide.

Trump sounds like a 12-year-old-- a willful and abusive braggart. He is remarkably ignorant and uneducated about the world that we face and the means we may use to defend ourselves.

I served in the Armed Forces for 32 years. At retirement, I was a four-star joint-theater commander. In my considered judgment, Trump is unqualified to be the president of the United States and fulfill the role of commander in chief of the 2.2 million men and women of the Armed Forces.

This morning's latest polling numbers come from the NBC News|SurveyMonkey weekly election tracking poll and it's in line with all the other recent polling showing Trumpy-the-Clown in decline. Hillary is clearly the lesser evil in the minds of most Americans and now leads Mr. Tumpanzee 51-41%. White women with college educations have lead the way out of the darkness-- and that's even before Susan Collins' editorial and the letter from the 50 GOP national security experts have been baked into the cake. I doubt is utterly inauthentic-sounding economic policy address from yesterday is going to move any numbers up for him either.

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At 7:46 AM, Blogger dog gone said...

You are only prohibited by the APA Goldwater rule from making a public diagnosis.

They can make generalized observations about mental illness that are like Trumpanzee all they want. And should.

It is worth noting that the Goldwater Rule came about because Goldwater won a court case against psychiatrists who opined without up close and personal justification or the proper respect for an actual patient's privacy. That kind of thing reasonably is not only a violation of professional ethics and standards, but would reduce the faith in the profession of potential clients. It also stigmatizes those who really do need the help of the mental health profession, like our soldiers with PTSD who commit suicide in such horrifying numbers.

What we are mostly treating as crazy is not legitimately insane, so much as it is nasty, irresponsible and bloody minded offensiveness. We shouldn't be giving Trump the excuse of mental illness to explain or justify his behavior. Real mental illness is beyond the voluntary control of those who suffer from it. Trump's behavior is entirely volitional.

It's bad, but it's a choice. The same goes for his supporters. They have voluntarily disconnected from a good part of reality, particularly science and history, but they don't meet the technical definition of mental illness. But then maybe we need a new definition that encompasses them; they are certainly highly dysfunctional and destructive.

At 3:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I disagree. Mental illness is a good bet. Trump's continued off the charts statements show that his does not have a good grip on reason or reality. I do not think Trump's behavior is a choice on his part. He acts impulsively and speaks impulsively, and he has very poor self control and judgment. While a diagnosis cannot be made, he seems to have many features of a personality disorder and serious attention deficits. Check out the DSM-V and go through the parameters. He is surely emotionally unstable, to say the least. None of his staff or family members seem to be able to influence him or control him. For him to really be choosing to dig his own political grave, which is certainly what he has been doing, makes no sense. He cannot help himself.

At 9:02 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

Twelve years old gives him too much maturity. He behaves like a toddler: willful, and if you tell him "no," he throws a temper tantrum and screams "I hate you, Mommy!"


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