It’s a question that’s been on all of our minds as securing the GOP nomination has apparently done nothing to temper his delusions: is Donald Trump actually crazy?
Now, as the parade of insanity that is the Trump campaign offers up new and more outrageous delusions seemingly every day, many prominent analysts from all across the political spectrum are beginning to ask the same question. Perhaps the most convincing article on the subject was Eugene Robinson’s op-Ed published yesterday in the Washington Post. In it he wrote,
“During the primary season, as Donald Trump’s bizarre outbursts helped him crush the competition, I thought he was being crazy like a fox. Now I am increasingly convinced that he’s just plain crazy. I’m serious about that. Leave aside for the moment Trump’s policies, which in my opinion range from the unconstitutional to the un-American to the potentially catastrophic. At this point, it would be irresponsible to ignore the fact that Trump’s grasp on reality appears to be tenuous at best.”
And Robinson is far from the only commentator to reach the conclusion, inevitable at this point, that Trump is not inhabiting reality. Robert Kagan, a senior fellow at the Brooking Institution, wrote on Monday that “One wonders if Republican leaders have begun to realize that they may have hitched their fate and the fate of their party to a man with a disordered personality.”
Given the recent chatter about top Republicans searching for a Trump replacement in case he quits the race, this description of a panicked realization in the GOP seems to be spot-on. Kagan was apparently prompted to action by Trump’s reaction to the DNC, particularly his feud with Khzir Khan, in which he has played the part of an angry middle schooler who lost at kickball. Kagan wrote that “Trump’s response to the assorted speakers at the Democratic National Convention has not been rational.”
For Vox founder Ezra Klein, the moment of realization came the day after the RNC, when Trump gave a press conference in which he inexplicably continues to focus on the debunked conspiracy theory that Ted Cruz’s father was connected to the Kennedy assassination. Writing at the time, Klein asked, “Have we stopped to appreciate how crazy Donald Trump has gotten recently?” He then went on to say, “There was no reason for Trump to say any of this. Trump had just accepted the Republican Party’s nomination for president. Cruz had been vanquished, booed off the stage. Trump’s opponent, now, was Hillary Clinton. But he couldn’t help himself. He couldn’t stay on message, he couldn’t suppress the crazy, for 24 hours.”
Writing on Twitter last month, Stuart Stevens, a prominent Republican strategist who headed Mitt Romney’s 2012 campaign wrote bluntly, “We can gloss over it, laugh about it, analyze it. But Donald Trump is not a well man.”
Speakers at last week’s DNC were also quick to question Trump’s sanity. Former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg suggested Trump was unhinged by endorsing Hillary Clinton with an exhortation to “elect a sane, competent person.” Never one to mince words, the eccentric fellow billionaire and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban told CNN this weekend that Trump had gone “batshit crazy.”
For anyone who has watched Fox News, read Breitbart, or listened to the right-wing of the Republican Party over the past eight years, insanity in the GOP is clearly nothing new. And indeed many commentators have made the connection between many Republicans’ delusionally distorted view of reality under Obama and the rise of Trump. Writing in the conservative Weekly Standard last week, Steve Hayes said that “Yes, Donald Trump is crazy. And, yes, the Republican party owns his insanity.”
An even more blistering critique came from columnist David Brooks, who wrote last week in The New York Times, “I almost don’t blame Trump. He is a morally untethered, spiritually vacuous man who appears haunted by multiple personality disorders. It is the ‘sane’ and ‘reasonable’ Republicans who deserve the shame.”
Even Trump’s biographer, Michael D’Antonio, has implicitly criticized his grasp on reality. Writing in an op-Ed for CNN, D’Antonio argued that Trump is not “crazy” in the traditional sense but instead suffers from narcissistic delusions of grandeur, so that he “sees the world as a constant struggle for victory and lacks a moral compass.”
The terrifying potentialities that a Trump presidency presents have long been self-evident, but as the questions about the nominee’s very grasp on reality become more and more acute, the possibility of his inhabiting the White House comes to look like an existential threat to American democracy itself.
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James DeVinne is a student at American University in Washington, DC majoring in International Service with a focus on the Middle East and South Asia. He is a founding member of Occupy Baltimore and interns at the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy.