Every politician must deal with humiliation at some point: How
one deals with it is the test of character. Trump is failing that test
in the most puerile fashion.
The Post’s Marc Fisher and Will Hobson reported that they were 44 minutes into a call with Trump about his finances when they asked if he ever employed a man named John Miller as his publicist. Trump immediately went silent, and then the line went dead, they wrote.
Fisher and Hobson wrote that when they called back, Trump’s secretary told them, “I heard you got disconnected. He can’t take the call now. I don’t know what happened.”
This silly behavior has transformed a medium-sized embarrassment into a Big Damned Deal. No other politician would have handled this situation so badly: Trump has called his own sanity -- or at least his emotional maturity -- into question. He brought it on himself.
I received a note from a reader who believes that Trump displays the symptoms of bipolar disorder. This reader happens to have a family member who has been so diagnosed.
Trump is big and loud - all the Bipolar symptoms are on full display. The way his incoherent ramblings match my sister's letters is amazing. Her favorite subjects were politics and people getting away with crimes. Change the names and this could be one of her manic letters from the 80s. Her handwriting was also manic. Humm - what does Trump’s handwriting look like? That would be a "tell" as well.
It is not uncommon for some people with a mental illness to have no self awareness that they are mentally ill. Untreated mental illness is a major problem in the US.
For me, the biggest "tell" was the occasion when Trump felt compelled to demonstrate that he still owned a successful steak company, even though Trump Steaks actually went out of business years ago. What kind of person does
Ever since Trump subjected us to that charade, I can't look at his face without hearing the Twilight Zone
theme music somewhere in the distance.
That said: I'm not sure if "bipolar" is the correct diagnosis. In truth, I'm not convinced of the accuracy of any
of the categories one finds in the DSM-whatever. Human behavior is too complex, too resistant to categorization; past a certain point, all explanatory schemas seem like a Procrustes bed.
Bipolar disorder is characterized by both lows and highs. Does Trump have lows? Perhaps. Perhaps he hides them well, even from Melania.
But as things stand, I have no evidence that this man has ever suffered from crippling depression.
offers a list of symptoms...
Seven Signs of Bipolar Mania
Feeling overly happy, “high,” or elated for long stretches of time.
Feeling easily agitated, some describe it as feeling jumpy or twitchy.
Talking super fast, often accompanied by racing thoughts.
Extreme restlessness or impulsivity.
Unrealistic over-confidence in your abilities or powers.
Engaging in risky behavior, such as having impulsive sex, gambling with life savings, or going on big spending sprees.
Seven Signs of Bipolar Depression
Feeling sad or hopeless for long periods of time.
Withdrawal from friends and family, and/or a loss of interest in activities that were once enjoyed.
Significant loss or increase in appetite.
Severe fatigue or lack of energy.
Problems with memory, concentration, and decision-making.
Thoughts or attempts of suicide, or preoccupation with death.
All seven "manic" symptoms seem pretty damned Trumpy.
But those seven signs of depression? Naw. That's not Trump.
(It's a lot more like me
, frankly -- although my speech is neither slow nor rapid, and my "preoccupation with death" is mostly a matter of appreciating old Charles Addams cartoons.)
Here's an interesting question: Can a leader with bipolar disorder fulfill his duties well?
Winston Churchill had "black dog days" -- his term for periods of deep depression. But when he was "up," he wasn't overly impulsive; he didn't twitch or talk in a rapid-fire fashion. Churchill was labeled "bipolar" by his own doctor, and I suppose we should defer to that doctor's professional judgment. But damn it, the label feels only half-right.
Churchill was too big for categories. Maybe we all are.
If Trump fits into a category, I don't know its name. His psychological impairment may be something that affects only the children of privilege. I may be just a layman operating on gut instinct -- but my gut tells me that the man simply is not right