Whatever happens to Nikki Haley in New Hampshire today – whether she bows out or limps on to South Carolina – she’s done Americans one big favor. She’s finally asked out loud what many politicians and reporters have been whispering for months: Is Donald Trump losing his mental capacity?
This question was first dramatically raised seven years ago, with publication of “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump,” by 27 leading psychiatrists and mental health professionals, led by Yale University professor Bandy Lee. Shortly after Trump’s election in 2016, alarmed about signs of Trump’s diminishing mental health, the group of doctors wrote a private letter to President Obama, recommending that the president-elect be given a “full medical and neuropsychiatric evaluation by an impartial team of investigators” before taking office.
Nothing happened. So, one year later, having observed Trump’s first year in office, the psychiatrists published their book. It is devastating. They portrayed Trump as “one of the most impulsive, arrogant, ignorant, disorganized, chaotic, nihilistic, self-contradictory, self-important, and self-serving” of all world leaders.
Without going so far as to declare him “mentally ill,” they warned that Trump was dangerous, could not be trusted, was unfit to be president of the United States — and, most telling of all, they warned that his patterns of speech showed the “possibility of a neurological disorder such as dementia or Alzheimer’s.”
Unfortunately, nobody paid much attention to the psychiatrists’ dire warning. But the questions they raised about Trump’s mental acuity roared back last week when he confused top GOP rival Nikki Haley with former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).
Speaking to a rally in Concord, N.H., Trump claimed: “You know, by the way, they never report the crowd on Jan. 6. You know, Nikki Haley, Nikki Haley, Nikki Haley. Nikki Haley, you know they, do you know they destroyed all of the information, all of the evidence, everything, deleted and destroyed all of it? All of it because of lots of things like Nikki Haley in charge of security. We offered her 10,000 people, soldiers, National Guard, whatever they want. They turned it down.”
There’s so much wrong with that statement, it’s hard to know where to start. But let’s start with the obvious: Nikki Haley is NOT Nancy Pelosi. Donald Trump is running against Nikki Haley, NOT against Nancy Pelosi. Nikki Haley was NOT in D.C. on Jan. 6; she was in South Carolina.
And this comes on top of other recent eyebrow-raising statements in which Trump bragged about running against and beating Barack Obama (he never ran against Obama), warned that Joe Biden could lead the United States into World War II (World War II ended in 1945) and blamed former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush for starting the Iraq War (it was Jeb’s brother George).
For too long, the media has largely ignored such gaffes, dismissing them as just “verbal confusions” or “Trump being Trump.” But Nikki Haley refused to play that game. To her credit, after Trump confused her with Nancy Pelosi, Haley publicly raised the issue of Trump’s mental health.
“When you’re dealing with the pressures of the presidency,” she told supporters in Keene, N.H., “we can’t have someone else that we question whether they’re mentally fit to do this — we can’t.”
Republicans would be wise to heed Haley’s warning before it’s too late. Meanwhile, she’s done us all a favor by telling the truth. There’s one candidate for president who’s too old, has serious cognitive issues and is already mentally unfit for the job. His name is Donald Trump.
Press hosts “The Bill Press Pod.” He is the author of “From the Left: A Life in the Crossfire.”
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