The Question of Presidential Inability

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The Question of Presidential Inability

#1

Post by Addie » Thu Jan 05, 2017 9:57 am

The New Yorker
What If a President Loses Control?

When John F. Kennedy spoke at the United Nations on September 25, 1961, he talked about the dangers of the atomic age. “Today, every inhabitant of this planet must contemplate the day when this planet may no longer be habitable,” he said. “Every man, woman, and child lives under a nuclear sword of Damocles, hanging by the slenderest of threads, capable of being cut at any moment by accident, or miscalculation, or by madness. The weapons of war must be abolished before they abolish us.” Contrast those remarks with the thoughts of the reality-show star, real-estate developer, and President-elect Donald J. Trump, who, just before Christmas, tweeted that “the United States must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes,” and, on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” outdid himself by saying, “Let it be an arms race. We will outmatch them at every pass and outlast them all.” It’s hard to say what he meant when, on January 2nd, he tweeted, “North Korea just stated that it is in the final stages of developing a nuclear weapon capable of reaching parts of the U.S. It won’t happen!”

There’s been progress since the time of Kennedy’s speech, including a partial test-ban treaty, in 1963, and important agreements by succeeding Administrations to limit strategic nuclear weapons. Yet, as Eric Schlosser recently wrote, in an unsettling survey of the current nuclear field, the risks of catastrophe are greater than ever and the safeguards alarmingly inadequate. So when a President-in-waiting uses a tweet or a drive-by cable-television moment to casually kiss off the excruciatingly difficult history of nuclear strategy and international treaties, it raises questions that go beyond policy to competence, and to rationality.

There’s no need to dwell on the particular character of Trump, who will be sworn in on January 20th. But it is worth examining what remedies exist if any President is too careless, inattentive, or impulsive to deal sensibly with questions affecting the nation’s survival. What could be done if a President behaves in a way that directly threatens to turn the planet into radioactive dust? And who could do it? Or, to rephrase that for a super-partisan era, who would be brave enough even to cross party lines, if taking that step were required to stop someone who, acting on a whim or in a tantrum, seemed ready to start a nuclear war? It might not take much to arrive in such a scenario; after all, it didn’t take much, recently, for Pakistan’s defense minister, reacting to a loony fake-news dispatch, to threaten nuclear retaliation against Israel.

The Constitution does provide certain remedies, foremost among them being impeachment, though that requires a high crime or misdemeanor, a House bill, a Senate trial. But there is another path, also complicated, and possibly impractical. President Obama, the other day, addressed some of the charming creakiness that the Founders left for their descendants, such as the compromise that gives equal senatorial representation to California, with thirty-eight million people, and to Wyoming, with little more than a half-million. That disproportionate inheritance is not likely to be changed, just as the Electoral College is unlikely to be changed—at least not any time soon; the Founders made it difficult to tamper with their extraordinarily durable, imperfect document.

But what if it were a matter of imminent peril, having to do with Presidential instability, or even insanity? ....


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Re: The Question of Presidential Inability

#2

Post by Chilidog » Thu Jan 05, 2017 12:38 pm

Nixon: I’d rather use the nuclear bomb. Have you got that ready?
Kissinger: That, I think, would just be too much.
Nixon: A nuclear bomb, does that bother you?… I just want you to think big, Henry, for Christ’s sake! The only place where you and I disagree is with regard to the bombing. You’re so goddamned concerned about civilians, and I don’t give a damn. I don’t care.
Kissinger: I’m concerned about the civilians because I don’t want the world to be mobilized against you as a butcher.



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Re: The Question of Presidential Inability

#3

Post by Flatpointhigh » Fri Jan 13, 2017 4:58 pm

Chilidog wrote:
Nixon: I’d rather use the nuclear bomb. Have you got that ready?
Kissinger: That, I think, would just be too much.
Nixon: A nuclear bomb, does that bother you?… I just want you to think big, Henry, for Christ’s sake! The only place where you and I disagree is with regard to the bombing. You’re so goddamned concerned about civilians, and I don’t give a damn. I don’t care.
Kissinger: I’m concerned about the civilians because I don’t want the world to be mobilized against you as a butcher.
You are working under the premise that Trump would actually have someone around him who would stand up to him.



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Re: The Question of Presidential Inability

#4

Post by Whatever4 » Fri Jan 13, 2017 6:58 pm

Ah, my post here got borked in the recent unpleasantness.

Let's play What If. What If the news on Trump and Russia gets worse and worse. Pence springs to action. Let's also say the cabinet members are slow to get confirmed. How does the 25th amendment work then?


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Re: The Question of Presidential Inability

#5

Post by Fortinbras » Fri Jan 13, 2017 7:13 pm

The 25th Amendment requires that the VP and such other officers as the law may designate must certify to Congress that "the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office". That suggests a discernible medical condition. It does not suggest mere stupidity, cupidity, or crookedness, so it would appear inapplicable to The Don unless lightning actually struck him.

(PS I have not found the law by which Congress designated which "other body" - other than the cabinet secretaries - must certify this opinion to the Congressional leaders. If anyone knows which law was enacted to facilitate the 25th Amendment, I would appreciate the information.)



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Re: The Question of Presidential Inability

#6

Post by kate520 » Fri Jan 13, 2017 8:33 pm

Suggests, perhaps, but doesn't spell out. I've heard a couple of discussions of this, including Olbermann's. Certification is required. Trump could say no, no, I'm fine, but if they come back and say no, he's certifiable...he doesn't go, but all his duties move over one official and he's left to his own devices, enriching himself.

Damn, is that his plan? :shock:


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Re: The Question of Presidential Inability

#7

Post by Addie » Fri Jan 27, 2017 9:34 am

US News & World Report
Temperament Tantrum ...

The behavior of the new president in his first week in office has experts and elected officials wondering: is this just a case of a president with predictable quirks, or is it something that raises concerns about Trump's judgment and adherence to factual reality?

John D. Gartner, a practicing psychotherapist who teaches psychiatric residents at Johns Hopkins University Medical School, minces as few words as the president in his professional assessment of Trump.

"Donald Trump is dangerously mentally ill and temperamentally incapable of being president," says Gartner, author of "In Search of Bill Clinton: A Psychological Biography." Trump, Gartner says, has "malignant narcissism," which is different from narcissistic personality disorder and which is incurable.

Gartner acknowledges that he has not personally examined Trump, but says it's obvious from Trump's behavior that he meets the diagnostic criteria for the disorder, which include anti-social behavior, sadism, aggressiveness, paranoia and grandiosity. Trump's personality disorder (which includes hypomania) is also displayed through a lack of impulse control and empathy, and "a feeling that people ... don't recognize their greatness.

"We've seen enough public behavior by Donald Trump now that we can make this diagnosis indisputably," says Gartner. His comments run afoul of the so-called Goldwater Rule, the informal term for part of the ethics code of the American Psychiatric Association saying it is wrong to provide a professional opinion of a public figure without examining that person and gaining consent to discuss the evaluation. But Gartner says the Trump case warrants breaking that ethical code.


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Re: The Question of Presidential Inability

#8

Post by Fortinbras » Fri Jan 27, 2017 10:37 am

I would very much like to remind people that removing The Don from office means making Mike Pence the President.
Pence is considered at least as bad politically and much more efficient.

Yours truly, Captain Obvious



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Re: The Question of Presidential Inability

#9

Post by kate520 » Fri Jan 27, 2017 11:02 am

Not even a Christian Dominionist is worse than a madman. :?

Oh, wait...


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Re: The Question of Presidential Inability

#10

Post by RoadScholar » Fri Jan 27, 2017 11:07 am

I think Pence would take advice from veteran Republicans better. Which ain't saying much.


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Re: The Question of Presidential Inability

#11

Post by Mikedunford » Fri Jan 27, 2017 11:09 am

Dear Captain Obvious:

Mike Pence is a radical right wing nut job. But he is a sane RWNJ. The damage that he would cause would be massive, and probably take decades to undo. But it would be fairly normal damage; the kind of damage we know how to deal with.

Donald is insane. He is unhinged from reality. His first order of business on his first full day as President literally involved lying to the CIA about whether the sun shone on him while he was delivering his inaugural address. As we speak, there is someone with a bag of nuclear war plans within 100 feet of him.

There comes a time when the country is more important than party.

Respectfully Yours,
Sanity


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Re: The Question of Presidential Inability

#12

Post by listeme » Fri Jan 27, 2017 11:10 am

I resist nuclear war and religious bans and global instability. I would resist Pence's politics, but that's a whole different ballgame.


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Re: The Question of Presidential Inability

#13

Post by RTH10260 » Fri Jan 27, 2017 12:27 pm

RoadScholar wrote:I think Pence would take advice from veteran Republicans better. Which ain't saying much.
At least with Pence you have a guy who understands politics, even when he stands at the wrong side of the fence.



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Re: The Question of Presidential Inability

#14

Post by RTH10260 » Fri Jan 27, 2017 12:31 pm

Mikedunford wrote:Dear Captain Obvious:

Mike Pence is a radical right wing nut job. But he is a sane RWNJ. The damage that he would cause would be massive, and probably take decades to undo. But it would be fairly normal damage; the kind of damage we know how to deal with.

Donald is insane. He is unhinged from reality. His first order of business on his first full day as President literally involved lying to the CIA about whether the sun shone on him while he was delivering his inaugural address. As we speak, there is someone with a bag of nuclear war plans within 100 feet of him.

There comes a time when the country is more important than party.

Respectfully Yours,
Sanity
One can only hope that the officer carrying the nuke communication equipment knows to lose or mislay his precious cargo when the shit hits the fan.



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Re: The Question of Presidential Inability

#15

Post by Addie » Sat Jan 28, 2017 3:38 pm

WaPo - Op-Ed by Ruth Marcus
Trump’s erratic first week was among the most alarming in history ...

Anyone who paid even glancing attention to the 2016 campaign already understood Donald Trump to be undisciplined, easily provoked and self-absorbed to the point of narcissism. But it was one thing to know that in theory; it was much more unsettling to witness President Trump in action. In depressing retrospect, the dark inaugural address, with its invocation of “carnage” and “tombstones,” was the week’s high point. ...

You will notice that my lament about the week is largely devoid of ideological content. That is not because his policy moves are not appalling — they are. But you don’t have to disagree with Trump’s policies to be rattled to the core by his unhinged behavior. Many congressional Republicans privately express concerns that range from apprehension to outright dread.

There have been reasons to worry about other presidents’ mental health. Lyndon B. Johnson’s senior aides were so concerned about his behavior that they consulted psychiatrists. Nixon in the throes of Watergate was drunk and unstable, so much so that his defense secretary, James Schlesinger, reportedly ordered the military not to respond to White House orders without approval from him or the secretary of state. Still, other presidents’ outbursts occurred behind closed doors, and there was some hope that aides would intervene. Trump’s inner circle seems divided between enablers and inciters.

What is to be done? In a meeting last week with The Post editorial board, Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), chair of the House Oversight Committee, said he was weighing legislation to require presidents to undergo an independent medical examination, including for mental health. Chaffetz cautioned that he wasn’t “talking about some of the rhetoric that’s flying around” about Trump. Still, he said, “If you’re going to have your hands on the nuclear codes, you should probably know what kind of mental state you’re in.”

That can’t happen soon enough.


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Re: The Question of Presidential Inability

#16

Post by Chilidog » Sat Jan 28, 2017 4:21 pm

If Chaeffetz is serious about that it would be the first time he has ever done anything worthwhile.



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Re: The Question of Presidential Inability

#17

Post by Mikedunford » Sat Jan 28, 2017 4:59 pm

Chilidog wrote:If Chaeffetz is serious about that it would be the first time he has ever done anything worthwhile.
Sadly, it would almost certainly be unconstitutional. The requirements for the Office are set out in the Constitution; Congress doesn't have the power to add new ones. It might be possible to craft it so that the language is couched in terms of "failure to undergo shall be considered a high crime and misdemeanor" but that's a long shot.


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Re: The Question of Presidential Inability

#18

Post by Skip Intro » Sat Jan 28, 2017 5:01 pm

I think President Bannon seems healthy enough. It really doesn't matter whether Trump or Pence plays the frontman.


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Re: The Question of Presidential Inability

#19

Post by kate520 » Sat Jan 28, 2017 5:43 pm

Skip Intro wrote:I think President Bannon seems healthy enough. It really doesn't matter whether Trump or Pence plays the frontman.
You do? I think he looks just a couple of CarlJr's biggest, greasiest burgers and a bout of apoplexy away from a major health catastrophe.


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Re: The Question of Presidential Inability

#20

Post by Skip Intro » Sat Jan 28, 2017 5:51 pm

We can hope.


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Re: The Question of Presidential Inability

#21

Post by Addie » Wed Feb 08, 2017 4:43 pm

The Hill
Dem to unveil bill requiring a White House psychiatrist

Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) reportedly plans to file a bill that would require the White House to have an in-house psychiatrist.

“I’m looking at it from the perspective of, if there are questions about the mental health of the president of the United States, what may be the best way to get the president treatment?” Lieu told the Huffington Post.

“We’re now in the 21st century. Mental health is just as important as physical health,” he added.

The Democratic lawmaker reportedly plans to introduce the bill as early as next week.

Lieu has previously raised concerns with President Trump's mental health, suggesting that the commander in chief could use a mental health evaluation.


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Re: The Question of Presidential Inability

#22

Post by Addie » Thu Feb 16, 2017 10:07 am

WaPo OpEd by E.J. Dionne
Admit it: Trump is unfit to serve

Let’s not mumble or whisper about the central issue facing our country: What is this democratic nation to do when the man serving as president of the United States plainly has no business being president of the United States?

The Michael Flynn fiasco was the entirely predictable product of the indiscipline, deceit, incompetence and moral indifference that characterize Donald Trump’s approach to leadership.

Even worse, Trump’s loyalties are now in doubt. Questions about his relationship with Vladimir Putin and Russia will not go away, even if congressional Republicans try to slow-walk a transparent investigation into what ties Trump has with Putin’s Russia — and who on his campaign did what, and when, with Russian intelligence officials and diplomats.

Party leaders should listen to those Republicans who are already pondering how history will judge their actions in this wrenching moment. Senators such as John McCain and Lindsey Graham seem to know it is only a matter of time before the GOP will have to confront Trump’s unfitness. They also sense that Flynn’s resignation as national security adviser for lying about the nature of his contacts with Russia’s ambassador to the United States raises fundamental concerns about Trump himself.


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Re: The Question of Presidential Inability

#23

Post by Addie » Fri Feb 17, 2017 9:40 am

New Republic
A Medical Theory for Donald Trump’s Bizarre Behavior

Al Franken recently raised a provocative question about Donald Trump: Is he mentally ill? On HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher last week, the Minnesota senator claimed that some of his Republican colleagues have “great concern about the president’s temperament,” adding that “there’s a range in what they’ll say, and some will say that he’s not right mentally. And some are harsher.” Two days later, he told CNN’s Jake Tapper, “We all have this suspicion that—you know, that he’s not—he lies a lot…And, you know, that is not the norm for a president of the United States, or, actually, for a human being.”

Franken is not alone in his suspicions. Last year, Jeb Bush said of his Republican primary opponent, “I’m not a psychiatrist or a psychologist, but the guy needs therapy.” Senator Bernie Sanders recently called Trump “delusional in many respects, a pathological liar.” And Congressman Ted Lieu, a California Democrat, is introducing legislation that would require the White House to have a psychiatrist on staff. “I’m looking at it from the perspective of, if there are questions about the mental health of the president of the United States, what may be the best way to get the president treatment?” he told the Huffington Post.

Meanwhile, a debate is raging among mental health professionals about Trump’s mental state, and whether it’s unethical of them to speculate publicly about someone whom they haven’t examined (doing so violates psychiatrists’ code of ethics, the relevant section of which is called “the Goldwater rule” because of its association with a magazine survey of psychiatrists about Barry Goldwater, the Republican presidential nominee, in 1964). One online petition with nearly 24,000 signatures calls for Trump’s removal because he “manifests a serious mental illness that renders him psychologically incapable of competently discharging the duties of President.” Another with 36,000 signatures declares that “Trump appears unable to control his compulsion and displays characteristics of all nine criteria to officially diagnose an individual with Narcissistic Personality Disorder.”

Physicians like me have also taken notice of Trump’s bizarre, volatile behavior. Given our experience, we can’t help but wonder if there’s a medical diagnosis to be made. After all, many medical conditions exhibit their first symptoms in the form of psychiatric issues and personality changes. One condition in particular is notable for doing so: Neurosyphilis.


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Re: The Question of Presidential Inability

#24

Post by Tiredretiredlawyer » Fri Feb 17, 2017 10:59 am

Addie wrote:New Republic
A Medical Theory for Donald Trump’s Bizarre Behavior

Al Franken recently raised a provocative question about Donald Trump: Is he mentally ill? On HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher last week, the Minnesota senator claimed that some of his Republican colleagues have “great concern about the president’s temperament,” adding that “there’s a range in what they’ll say, and some will say that he’s not right mentally. And some are harsher.” Two days later, he told CNN’s Jake Tapper, “We all have this suspicion that—you know, that he’s not—he lies a lot…And, you know, that is not the norm for a president of the United States, or, actually, for a human being.”

:snippity:

Physicians like me have also taken notice of Trump’s bizarre, volatile behavior. Given our experience, we can’t help but wonder if there’s a medical diagnosis to be made. After all, many medical conditions exhibit their first symptoms in the form of psychiatric issues and personality changes. One condition in particular is notable for doing so: Neurosyphilis.

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Re: The Question of Presidential Inability

#25

Post by Chilidog » Fri Feb 17, 2017 2:21 pm

So I was right!

He is a syphilic monkey dick!



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