by Doctor Science
A few days ago media guru Dan Pfeiffer tweeted:
Trump might be the most predictable human on earth https://t.co/GmmtMlM4j6— Dan Pfeiffer (@danpfeiffer) February 6, 2017
So-called President* Trump is also easily influenced (especially by the last person he spoke to), and is, of course, probably the most influential person in the world.
Everyone wants to hack Trump's brain. Everyone always wants to influence influential public figures -- let me tell you about Louis XIV! -- but with Trump the process has gone to a much higher level than we've seen with any other public figure, maybe ever, for a couple of reasons.
First of all, since his Inauguration Trump has had a lonely yet public life. Neither his wife nor his children are living with him, and he seems to spend a lot of his time in the evenings and early mornings watching TV while phoning and/or tweeting.
Because he often tweets in response to what he sees on TV, we know what he watches. For instance, Pfeiffer's tweet above was in response to this tweetfrom NBC News editor Brad Jaffy:
This MJoe segment on Bannon (6:09 a.m.) may have been what set off Trump's “I call my own shots” tweet (7:07 a.m.) https://t.co/DxPddbuWMm— Bradd Jaffy (@BraddJaffy) February 6, 2017
Since Trump tweets in response to things he sees on "Morning Joe, [t]he ad rates for "Morning Joe" have more than doubled post-election, according to one veteran media buyer," Politico reported. "One prominent D.C. consultant said some of his clients, including a big bank and major pharmaceutical company, were negotiating this week to buy ads on "O'Reilly" and "Morning Joe" because they knew they had a good chance of reaching the president."
We talk a lot about "this is not normal" these days, but this is beyond not-normal, we're into the realm of the surreal.
Today the President of the United States isn't just the Commander-in-Chief, he's the Demographic-in-Chief, with people and firms competing for his attention by advertising on his favorite shows, hoping for mentions on his twitter.
That people will try to influence the President is perfectly natural and to be expected, but one of the functions of his staff (and family) is normally to be both buffer and filter: to screen out extraneous demands, but to let in worthwhile information and influences so the President can make good decisions.
By watching so much TV, Trump has essentially made FoxNews, MSNBC, and CNN part of his staff, letting them determine what gets through his filters. And not just their programming, their ads! -- or at least, that's what the people buying those ads think.
In a wacky, 2017 way, this *is* a more transparent approach to money in Washington. The public can see who buys time on "Morning Joe" or "The O'Reilly Show" and what they're saying, and can thus see who's trying to influence Trump in what direction. And in fact I think some media or communications student should start a spreadsheet right now, it might turn out to be really useful.
I can't find it now, but I recall that during the transition I saw a story saying that Kellyanne Conway was on TV so much not just to promote Trump's policys, but to influence them: that Trump, seeing her on TV, would be influenced by her views and presentation. That he would believe her and be swayed by her, because he saw her on TV. Even though he sent her there. At the time I thought it was kind of ridiculous, and even if true was sure to be an artifact of the transition, but now I see it as part of a pattern.
As I was finishing up the edits on this post, Alexandrea Erin alerted me to a Politico article saying the same thing:
...but no one is more cognizant of the fact that their job is performing for one man or more comfortable with it than is Conway. pic.twitter.com/2UCBCuGvvv— Alexandra Erin (@alexandraerin) February 12, 2017
Those of who are opposed to Trump are also trying to hack his brain, though mostly by different methods because we have different goals.
Nice, well-intentioned people have tried to persuade those of us in #TheResistance that all our protesting isn't going to be effective the way we're doing it. But one unspoken yet serious goal of the protests, especially the ones that follow Trump himself wherever he goes, is ... well. To help Mike Pence.
I loathe Mike Pence, I think he'd be a terrible President. But he'd be a terrible President in a standard Republican mold, or a slightly exaggerated version thereof. I think of this as the "Marty metric", after one of our resident conservative commenters who pointed it out as a way to decide what to freak out about in the opposite party. It's very probable that tens of thousands of Americans would needlessly die on Pence's watch, but that would be true of any Republican who succeeded in gutting the ACA or the Clean Air & Water Acts.
Trump is NOT a standard Republican. He has already done significant damage to the fabric of international relations, and the longer he's around the more he threatens major peacekeeping institutions like NATO. I truly believe *millions* of lives are at risk, if Russia invades the Baltics or the Ukraine, or if Pakistan and India start lobbing nukes at each other (may heaven forfend!).
The decision to go for either impeachment or the 25th Amendment is essentially political, and must be made by Republicans. One of the reasons we protest Trump and mock him at every turn is to make him feel unhappy and stressed, so that he's more likely to say or do something in public that Pence and his colleagues can use as ammunition.
Yeah, what I mean is pushing Trump to having a physical or mental breakdown.
"Propane Jane" is a psychiatrist in Texas. When she looks at Donald Trump,
I find myself confronted with public behavioral disturbances that more closely resemble the DSM than they do politics as usual. I've written extensively about the political aspects of Trump's many disqualifying attributes, from his peddling in the privileged politics of personal insult, to his disingenuous minority outreach, and his exploitation of the poorly informed; but now it's time that we discuss his mental health.
I'm not here to formally diagnose him from afar, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't beginning to feel somewhat derelict watching an emergency unfold without meaningful, life-saving intervention taking place. I make my living treating acute and sub-acute mental and behavioral health emergencies, which means people don't end up on my radar unless they've comported themselves in ways that are generally determined to be unstable and unsafe. In some cases it's florid psychosis, dementia, or mania, and in others it's severe depression and suicidality, or unbridled poly substance abuse or personality disorder. No matter the etiology, my duty is to determine if the mental status changes in question represent a lack of stability and/or portend a heightened risk to individual or public safety.
When I hear and see Donald Trump, I hear and see an emergency.
In a later tweetstorm:
As a psychiatrist, my SPECIFIC concerns w/Trump are 1) clinically significant character pathology 2) readily apparent cognitive impairment.Following Propane Jane (a must if you're on Twitter, truthbombs dropped daily), I've seen many people point out similarities between Trump's behavior and that of their relatives with Alzheimer's. (Also ADD, which is pretty likely but not really a problem on the same level.)
His antisocial narcissism is a lost cause and should've disqualified him from jump but antisocial narcissists have the right to vote too.
Beyond that he won't be the first antisocial narcissist to be POTUS. The kicker here is that he's also elderly AND cognitively impaired.
I repeat, the overarching issue here is Trump is unmistakably disinhibited, incoherent, and erratic. No matter the etiology, he's UNFIT.
As we can all tell by looking, "President of the United States" is an extremely stressful job that tends to age a person hard. The only President of my conscious lifetime who didn't seem to be ground down by the Presidency was Ronald Reagan, and in retrospect I wonder if this was an early symptom of his Alzheimer's.
Congressman and civil rights hero John Lewis boycotted Trump's Inauguration, and then attended the Women's March in Atlanta. The following Monday, reporter Devon Maloney tweeted:
John Lewis just walked through Terminal 2 at DCA followed by what can only be called a rolling tidal wave of standing ovations.— Devon Maloney (@dynamofire) January 23, 2017
CNN collected various videos.
I am certain that this is what Trump expected the Presidency to be like: "a rolling tidal wave of standing ovations". Instead, as a recent Politico article reports: "his mood has careened between surprise and anger as he's faced the predictable realities of governing". And this is coming from his "allies".
So, we've got an unprepared and mentally unstable person, doing one of the most significant and stressful jobs in the world. I think a *lot* of us are doing our best to subject Trump to psychological stress, not out of sadism or payback (or at least not only that). We want him to feel more stress so he'll behave even more erratically, so his mental health will deteriorate faster and more publically, so Pence and Congress will make their move sooner.
I admit, it's a horrible thing to want, especially when I think of it as someone who has long-standing mental illness. But nuclear war (or even conventional war!) is a much worse thing, and while Trump's mental deterioration probably can't be prevented--as Propane Jane says, he's a man too hated to be helped--we have time to drag the world back from the nightmare brink. Millions of lives could be at stake.
* If he can call a judge who was unanimous approved by the US Senate "so-called", I can sure call someone who got 3 million fewer popular votes a so-called president.