Beware of DC establishment that attacks Trump’s capacity to govern – even if he deserves it

John Lee
John Lee is the political editor and columnist at the Mail on Sunday (Ireland edition). He has covered Irish, British, US, European and Australian politics for over 20 years for a number of titles, including the Sunday Times and the Daily Telegraph (Australia).
Beware of DC establishment that attacks Trump’s capacity to govern – even if he deserves it
As a political correspondent, I’ve had the opportunity to meet many world leaders over the last two decades. The question I am most asked is: “what is he or she like in person?”

Of the leaders who have been in power for about six years or more I most commonly answer that they are a little bit crazy.

The detachment from everyday concerns, the unceasing VIP treatment, and the unfettered power, I find, can often make leaders eccentric – or in some cases downright mad.

Donald Trump is less than nine months into his term as president and his opponents are already condemning him as unfit for office because of his mental state.

The allegation first came from his political enemies – the Democrats.

This is not some wild political charge – Democrats say they will try to use an obscure section of the 25th Amendment of the US Constitution – to oust the president.

Twenty lawmakers, led by Congressman Jamie Raskin of Maryland, have put forward a bill that could force President Donald Trump from office if he were found mentally or physically unfit.

The plan has gained momentum as senior figures from the Republican side of Congress have joined in the clamor.

Section 4 of the 25th Amendment allows for the removal of the president if the vice president and a majority of the cabinet inform the Congress that he is “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.” Two-thirds of Congress would then have to vote to ratify the unprecedented move.

As so often with laws, the creators did not envisage the 25th Amendment being used in this way. It was conceived in the Cold War following presidential illnesses and tragedies.

The amendment was made to the Constitution in 1967 in the wake of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination. At one point on that tragic day in Dallas, there were inaccurate reports that Vice President Lyndon Johnson had been wounded.

The two most senior leaders could have been incapacitated at once, and the Constitution wasn’t clear on succession anyway. In the 1950s, President Eisenhower’s health was not good. After a mild stroke in 1957, there was speculation that Vice President Richard Nixon might have to take over temporarily.

Decades before, President Woodrow Wilson’s inner circle maintained a deception that would be impossible today, after he suffered a major stroke that completely debilitated him. For months, others ran the country in secrecy.

But Washington and the world was a kinder, more honorable place then.

Now, in the poisonous and irretrievably divided Washington DC, this amendment is being used to go after Trump.

A co-signee, Democratic Congressman Darren Soto of Florida, said, “Given Donald Trump’s continued erratic and baffling behavior, is it any wonder why we need to pursue this legislation?

The mental and physical health of the leader of the United States and the free world is a matter of great public concern,” he said.

Indeed, it is, but can we trust politicians to use this power equitably? In Washington DC, rational, bipartisan behavior is rare. When it comes to Trump, it is non-existent.

The Democrats have brought psychiatrists into the fray.

Dr. Bandy Lee of Yale University is consulting with Democratic members of Congress on setting up an expert panel to give advice on the president’s mental health.

She is concerned by Mr. Trump’s “dangerousness.

The bill would create an 11-member bipartisan commission known as the Oversight Commission on Presidential Capacity, which would medically examine the president and evaluate his mental and physical faculties.

Expect Trump and the Republicans to come forward with their own psychiatric advice soon.

Democrats and talk show hosts complaining about Trump’s state of mind were to be expected. But now Republicans are joining in.

Republican Senator Bob Corker said that Trump “has not yet been able to demonstrate the stability, nor some of the competence that he needs to demonstrate in order to be successful.”

Corker was until recently an ally of Trump’s and important adviser on foreign relations to the ingénue President. Trump’s spokeswoman refused to get into a slugging match, but the president didn’t hold back.

The chorus of statements about the president’s mental state increased in the wake of his bizarre behavior around the tragic events at Charlottesville, Virginia. He was less condemnatory of neo-Nazis, whose protests ultimately led to the death of a woman and the serious injuries of many. Trump contradicted himself at least twice during his uneven response.

There were also the “fire and fury” threats to North Korea, which brought Trump’s state of mind and the nuclear weapons into the same room.

Then, in a 75-minute rally in Arizona recently, he attacked his opponents in the media and in Congress. The cacophony became even louder. James Clapper, an adviser to former President Barack Obama, said he found Trump’s speech “downright scary and disturbing.”

Trump has changed American politics forever. Just when you thought the tone couldn’t fall lower, it did. Now the psychiatric profession has broken its own 50-year guideline called the ‘Goldwater Rule.’

Presidential candidate Barry Goldwater successfully sued a magazine in 1964 for questioning his mental state, after psychiatrists assisted in the piece.

The Goldwater rule prohibits psychiatrists from giving professional opinions about public figures without personally conducting an examination.

When you cover politics, you come to understand that almost everything said in politics is, well, just politics. You can rarely obtain a neutral opinion because everyone is biased in favor of their political stance. Hence the Democrats are driving the 25th Amendment assault on Trump.

No matter how worthy the opponent you must always treat political attacks with great wariness.

With Trump, there is yet another factor at play. He stood as the “anti -Washington establishment” candidate. And he won.

Imagine how they felt, all those politicians and ambitious bureaucrats who had come up the traditional way, to see such a crass, boorish outsider take the top job. All while he was talking about ousting them from their complacent plutocracy – by “draining the swamp.”

The Republican establishment didn’t want Trump either.

Former Presidents George W. Bush and his father George H. W. Bush came out earlier this month and criticized Trump over his Charlottesville comments.

When George W. Bush enters the fray, then you know the “Trump is not fit to govern campaign” is rapidly losing credibility.

If Dr. Lee of Yale University, who is working with the Democrats, says that President Trump could “present a danger,” then what does she think George W. Bush did?

Bush invaded Afghanistan in 2001. Sixteen years later, that interminable Bush war is still going strong in that benighted country.

Bush invaded Iraq in 2003, based on the false claim that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction (WMD). That conflict spread across the region and still it continues. Every time a jihadist fanatic attacks innocent civilians in a western city, you can trace the tragedy to Bush’s misguided reaction to September 11.

While all this was going on, President Bush could barely make a speech without mangling his sentences. To put it very kindly, he was far from the brightest man to achieve high office.

There are millions of people around the world who would question whether George W. Bush was fit to govern.

As Barack Obama’s secretary of state in 2011, many in the military and that administration believed Hillary Clinton was the catalyst for the war in Libya. She was gung-ho for another war of regime change (this time of Colonel Gaddafi) that lacked a long-term plan. Libya is now a haven for terrorists and a source of a humanitarian disaster that sees hundreds of thousands of people take to rickety boats in the Mediterranean every year.

The US electorate decided that Clinton wasn’t fit to govern and voted Trump into office in her stead. Still, she is leading a new political movement called ‘Onward Together.’

Onward Together will join the ‘resistance’ to Donald Trump. It can be assumed that this ominously anti-democratic sounding group will be a fellow traveler of the groups that question Trump’s mental stability.

President Trump is an embarrassment to his country, as I have written here.

And, particularly with his failure to show leadership after the awful events in Charlottesville, he has dragged the office of president to depths it will take some time to recover from.

But recover it will.

There have been more tumultuous times in the past.

There were claims that another reviled Republican president, Richard Nixon, suffered from mental illness.

Nixon escalated the Vietnam War, which his predecessor Lyndon Johnson turned from a minor incursion into a disaster. Many of his closest aides thought that Johnson, too, as Vietnam destroyed his presidency, was slipping into a nervous breakdown, so erratic was his behavior.

Trump may be the worst president the United States has had. And the few who defend his behavior may dwindle to none if he goes on to fulfil the many dark predictions about his state of mind.

But he has, unlike many of the people mentioned above, not yet dragged the United States into a war that has cost millions of lives. The world will forgive Trump all his many failings if stays away from violent interference in other countries.

He represents a fresh mandate from millions of people who were desperate to seek deliverance from the predecessors.

Donald Trump may well be unfit for office. The US Constitution guarantees that this will be judged – in the presidential election of 2020.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.