Wednesday, May 10, 2017

A non-clinical assessment of the occupant of the Oval Office

Political reporting this morning on the  “Tuesday Night Massacre” (the trump firing of FBI Director James Comey) focuses on the investigation of any potential collusion between the trump gang and the Russians during the presidential campaign, and potentially even after the election. It is an obvious question as to why trump would fire the person in charge of that investigation who could potentially bring trump down. The analogy to the firing of Archibald Cox by Nixon, to avoid his own political demise, back in 1973, then known as the “Saturday night massacre” is also obvious and warranted.

Nixon is portrayed as a dark character, one who considered the press his avowed enemy, in a manner that seemed out of touch with the “fourth estate’s job to be a check on those in government. Paranoia is a trait also associated with Nixon, prompting the adjective “Nixonian” in application to the Comey firing even by some Republicans.

Even as a paranoid, Nixon was elected, demonstrating that the democratic process is either unable or unwilling to distinguish some of the finer nuances of personality, preferring to resort to the legal process, dependent on evidence proven in court, to determine a person’s “fitness for office”. The nation, while partially conscious that no political aspirant is free of self-centred motives, wants to believe that all candidates have at least a small portion of patriotism and desire to ‘make the country better’ and, in many cases their belief and hope have been sustained by exemplary leaders. Among them are names like Lincoln, Roosevelt (x2), Johnson, Kennedy, Wilson, Eisenhower, and more recently Obama. Whether they had personal foibles, blind spots, or character flaws for many decades was never a large public issue, since they could be largely kept from public view and knowledge.  For many decades too, the media conspired with the White House to preserve the privacy (sanity, secrecy, sanctity) of the occupant of the Oval Office, given both the importance of the role and the need for the nation to function honourably on the world stage.  A president’s flaw(s) did not need to become part of the equation if and when the country was facing a crisis beyond its borders.
In the last two of three decades, political lives have come under a microscope of scrutiny under which it is highly unlikely anyone could survive, given our shared range of frailties, and the media’s unrelenting pursuit of “dirt” as the pavement on the highway to their individual career advancement. And this motive sits squarely on their executive suites’ demand for ratings and the concomitant cash flow, investment dollars umbilically linked to their blatant obsequiousness to those investors.

Whatever the current Oval Office occupant attempts to portray in his tidal wave of tweets, there is a different reality, both within the government and in the public. And, in this case, it does not require either a ‘Philadelphia lawyer’ nor a “Harvard psychiatrist”  to notice and to document the deviance in the attitudes and behaviour of the man from what are considered normal attitudes, behaviours and principles.
This man, should he be a student in a classroom, while he might be achieving A+ grades, would still be under considerable scrutiny and suspicion by those professionals who share responsibility for his “education” and development.

His attitude and behaviour would long ago have passed from the Guidance Counsellor to the Vice-principal, and attracted a referral to the school psychologist. After only a few sessions in that office, the professional’s arms have been thrown up, in despair wondering where to turn next. Always colouring just inside the lines of breaking the law, yet also always threatening to destroy whomever and whatever dares to block his path, this individual comes very close to incarnating the DSM-5 Definition of a sociopath.

The DSM-5 defines antisocial personality disorder as "[a] pervasive pattern of disregard for and violation of the rights of others, occurring since age 15 years, as indicated by three (or more) of the following:
1.    Failure to conform to social norms with respect to lawful behaviors, as indicated by repeatedly performing acts that are grounds for arrest.
2.    Deceitfulness, as indicated by repeated lying, use of aliases, or conning others for personal profit or pleasure.
3.    Impulsivity or failure to plan ahead.
4.    Irritability and aggressiveness, as indicated by repeated physical fights or assaults.
5.    Reckless disregard for safety of self or others.
6.    Consistent irresponsibility, as indicated by repeated failure to sustain consistent work behavior or honor financial obligations.
7.    Lack of remorse, as indicated by being indifferent to or rationalizing having hurt, mistreated, or stolen from another."
It's important to note that sociopathic children do not exist as a person cannot be diagnosed as a sociopath until age 18. While the patterns of behavior and personality traits exist prior to adulthood, until then, a child may be diagnosed with conduct disorder, but he can't be defined as a sociopath.

While the legal process, including the several congressional and FBI and National Security investigations plod along, and the media pours gallons of ink and hours of airtime into their obsessive coverage of this personality, and the public is more than suitably entertained by the spectacle of this melodrama, there are some facts and trends and boundaries that might fail to fall under the lens of any of these investigators. And those boundaries include whether a man of this character is in fact suited for, fit for, or permitted to hold the highest office in the world. Of course, a mere blogger writing from a distance would not have, and should not have, any real impact on the outcome of the many mini-dramas that are swirling around the White House. Better brains, and more highly trained professionals in all fields need to be brought to bear on what is now and has been since the election back in November of 2016 a world problem. No one, in any country, ought to be able to announce proudly, “I could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue, and I would not lose any supporters!” And such a statement really ought to disqualify the speaker from any public office, let alone the highest office in the world.

Putin and Kim Jong Un, not to mention Duterte and several of the political leaders in African states may also be world problems, but they are not holding office in the United States. And for the sake of the reputation of the nation, and the very high stakes faced by the people on the planet, especially Republican elected officials who previously, and lamely and co-dependently hitched their political wagon to the trump star, will have to relinquish that fantasy, let themselves down to earth and into the muck that is currently threatening to engulf all of them, the nation and potentially the world community.

Laws, however, have not kept pace with the evolving science of psychology, psychiatry and the rising level of education among ordinary drones like your scribe. One would speculate that the capacity to put one’s name on buildings in many countries would indicate a degree of trustworthiness, integrity and the potential for leadership that could be trusted.

Such speculation, as is the case with most speculation, simply does not hold water nor anything else like hope, potential or dependability.

This man appears incapable of remorse, for the workers he has never paid, for the laws he has skated around, for the taxes he has never paid, for the traditions, expectations and disclosure ordinary people expect from their president. He certainly has demonstrated total disdain for the emoluments clause and for the expectation that the presidency is not to be a vehicle for self-enrichment. Everyday, another slosh of cash flows through the front and back doors of ‘his’ properties, at least a sizeable portion of that ‘flow’ dedicated to attempts to win favour from this man.

And there are still those among his original supporters who tell pollsters they would vote for him again, in spite of his wanton disregard for the moral and ethical principles on which democracy depends.

Can he be usurped? Can he be deposed? Can he be thwarted? Can he be removed?

The clock is ticking and the world is watching and waiting.

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