The mental decline and fall of Donald Trump

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Toward the last few years of his life, his behaviour was characterised by a decline in cognitive abilities that included memory impairment and difficulty with language. He frequently lapsed into “word salad” and free association. His speech often sounded superficially coherent in manner and delivery, but when it was parsed for meaning it often made absolutely no sense at all.

No, I’m not referring to Donald Trump. I’m referring to his father, Fred Trump. In the final six years of his life, Frederick Christ Trump Sr (yes, that really was his name) began the long, dreadful, unstoppable slide into Alzheimer’s disease.

Alzheimer’s disease is a neurodegenerative disease that usually begins slowly and worsens progressively, but occasionally in leaps of dramatic decline. It is the cause of 60–70% of all cases of dementia. The most common early symptom is difficulty in remembering recent events or facts, such as who the current president of the United States is.

And it is genetically inheritable. Is Donald Trump succumbing to the same disease that killed his father, the one that finally took Ronald Reagan? At least one medical expert believes he is.

Dr. John Gartner, formerly of Johns Hopkins University Medical School, thinks that Donald Trump’s slurring and inability to sometimes formulate complete sentences is a clear sign of growing dementia. Those symptoms could be early signposts for Alzheimer’s disease.

“Referring to the former president’s ‘tangential speech,’” Dr Gartner elaborated, “He just becomes incomprehensible when he engages in free association word salad speech that is all over the place. Again, that’s a sign of real brain damage, not being old, not being slow, not losing a step, but of severe cognitive deterioration.”

Can Donald Trump’s severe mental decline be fairly compared with President Joe Biden’s advancing age and the normal, resulting slowdown of cognitive function? Not so, says Dr Gartner. “There is also this focus on Biden’s gaffes or other things that are well within the normal limits of ageing,” Gartner observes. “By comparison, Trump appears to be showing gross signs of dementia. This is a tale of two brains. Biden’s brain is ageing. Trump’s brain is dementing.”

Medical diagnoses from afar are often tricky. Not so with Alzheimer’s. Alzheimer’s disease is recognisable from family history and observation. According to Wikipedia, “[Alzheimer’s disease] is usually clinically diagnosed based on the person’s medical history, history from relatives, and behavioural observations.”

Donald Trump has given us plenty to observe over the years. His steady cognitive decline is becoming obvious, even to some of the talking heads on perennially Trump-adoring Fox News. And we know how his father died. The inescapable conclusion is he is almost certainly suffering from early-onset Alzheimer’s.

What does this mean in the realpolitik of today’s rough-and-tumble civic paradigm? In the MAGA world, probably nothing. In the world of the independent voter, possibly a great deal. Whatever the effect, the news can’t be good for Donald Trump. Along with his staggering criminal and civil perils, it’s just one more thing to seriously wound his already moribund candidacy. A confirmed diagnosis from several sources of early-onset Alzheimer’s could destroy whatever puny chances he may have left.

Even so, with the entire Russian state and MAGA stooges inside Congress behind his candidacy, even an obviously cognitively impaired Trump is deadly dangerous. We cannot afford to merely watch him self-destruct. We must, each of us, become an integral part of that destruction. And, as ever, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, stay safe.

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