Had a long talk with a therapist friend of mine this morning. It basically focused on Trump, and this sickness that seems to be in the air.
He reminded me (and I’d forgotten, from reading Rick Perlstein’s BEFORE THE STORM) of something called “The Goldwater Rule.”
When Barry Goldwater was running in ’64, against LBJ, a survey was sent to numerous psychiatrists, asking them to “diagnose” Goldwater. As the campaign went on Barry Goldwater’s speeches became more and more erratic and insane. Remember — Goldwater got the nomination on the strength of his rapid, frightening, stadium-packing crowds (Madison Square Garden, for chrissakes). The GOP establishment wanted nothing to do with him. They knew was crazy. They knew he’d implode. And he openly detested them. The GOP wanted Rockefeller, who couldn’t fill a phone booth.
Not every psychiatrist who received the survey answered it but a lot of them did and they soberly assessed Goldwater to be paranoid, grandiose and unstable.
After the election, in which Goldwater was destroyed, Goldwater’s handlers sued the psychiatrists. They settled for some undisclosed sum outside of court.
And that’s when “The Goldwater Rule” was established. It’s an unwritten rule among mental health professionals in which a diagnosis of a public figure should not be offered based on observation of their public behavior. Unless a one-on-one analysis can be made, they stay silent.
This is ironic now, said my friend, since Trump is so obviously insane and dangerous. Narcissistic, borderline personality, and anti-social. “All of these are obvious,” he explained to me. “A first year resident can see this.”
He then pointed out something even creepier...and ultimately hopeful.
In life, overall, there are two groups.
Predator and prey.
Predators can only survive if they DON'T play fair. In the wild, it’s why cheetahs go after the older gazelles, or the wounded gazelles, or the slower gazelles. They never challenge the alpha. What would be the point. It's too much work.
In society, predators triumph by causing fear in their prey, and then promising to protect the prey from the fear they’ve created. Thus, Trump’s followers. Human predators never go after the confident, stable and powerful. Again, too much work.
But here’s the hopeful part — predators ONLY have that one strategy. They can win if you respond to it, or attack it head on.
If Hillary tries to out-frighten or out-bully Trump, he wins. He’ll crush her.
But if she stays calm, and stays on message, and keeps hammering one or two points that everyone can agree on, then Trump has to keep sticking his neck further and further out. He has to think up crazier and crazier ways to scare people. And that means him eventually blurting out “nigger” or “cunt” or God knows what. I honestly can't think of what's left for him to spew, at this point.
Hillary’s been judo-ing predators her whole career. Ken Starr, and Gingrich, and Comey and the head of the FBI. And none of those guys operate at the lunatic pitch that Trump operates at.
The GOP knows this. That’s why they’ve stopped trying to reach Trump. They’re going to let him melt down these next few weeks until they look like sober heroes for stepping in and replacing him. They can’t step in now or they look like assholes. Or cowards.
Does Trump even speak to his people one-on-one anymore? I bet he just watches TV and scrolls the internet for alerts about himself. That’s probably why the people around him keep denouncing what he’s saying without pulling their endorsement. The denouncements in the press are the only way Trump will see them. His middle man is now his own ego.
We are living in a horror movie written by comedians and performed by maniacs using megaphones.
Sorry this wasn't funnier. I'm still working on that. I'll get there.
Patton Oswalt Facebook Page
I think it’s becoming more and more obvious that Trump is psychologically unhinged. And, it’s not funny anymore. It’s scary as hell. Can an insane president be legally removed from office?