I’ve seen some presidential lows in my lifetime, and the debates that framed them. There was the debate about whether George W. Bush was a bad guy, or just an idiot being taken advantage of by the bad seeds surrounding him. There was the debate, toward the end, about whether Ronald Reagan was going senile or just faking it to avoid criminal culpability. I wasn’t around for Watergate, but even if I had been, I’d still be looking at a new low. At least now we’re finally framing the debate about Donald Trump in the proper fashion.
It’s taken a tragic amount of time for the American mainstream to finally get around to viewing Trump in the terms that those watching him closely have seen all along. At least we’ve finally arrived. At this point the popular debate surrounding Trump is whether he’s senile, mentally ill, or just a treasonously criminal snake. I’ll save you some time: he’s all three.
For his entire time in public life, Trump has been suffering from mental illness so severe and so uniquely vile that it hasn’t taken a medical professional to spot it. Most medical professionals have indeed pegged it as being some combination of malignant narcissism and sociopathy. But the guy clearly operates outside the bounds of what would be considered sane behavior, and he always has.
Anyone who has been closely watching is also keenly aware that the Trump of today is not the same guy he was when his campaign began, or even when his campaign ended. Throughout 2017, we’ve seen Trump’s mental faculties gradually but surely erode. In fact it’s been too gradual, too natural of a progression, for an undisciplined and impulsive guy like Trump to have been faking it all this time. If his people are trying to set him up for a senility defense, it’s because he is going senile. That won’t get him off the legal hook, by the way, because of the third thing that’s wrong with him.
Donald Trump is just plain evil. Millions of people struggle with mental illness; most of them don’t act like this guy does. This guy might actually be the most immoral, repugnant, gleefully evil person on the planet. No matter how much his actions are governed by his longtime mental illness or his more recent mental decline, he’s going to take himself down in the end. Once he finally figures out that he can no longer hide the fact that the election was rigged for him, he’ll at least want the credit for having figured out how to rig it. He’ll blurt out a confession, A Few Good Men style, in the end – because he’ll always be primarily governed by his cartoonishly evil nature.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report