It’s Time for an Intervention in Washington, DC (Part 2 of 3)
Many Americans have witnessed the tragedy of chemical dependency – in a friend, in a family member, or even in themselves. Those in recovery from this illness are aware that it is not just the alcoholic or addict who is sick: it is a family disease. Those close to the addict often develop a behavior called “enabling,” in which they try to cope with the behavior of their loved one and maintain the illusion of normalcy by either denying their loved one’s illness or constantly picking up the pieces of the damage caused, making excuses for them, and trying to hide the evidence. Such enabling behavior can require as much of an intervention as the behavior of the addict himself/herself.
Less known to many Americans is that the same dynamic often develops in the family or friends of an individual suffering from a mental disorder.
Last week, I discussed how the clinically diagnosable mental illnesses of Narcissistic Personality Disorder and Histrionic Personality Disorder can co-exist in one individual –not uncommon in those who suffer from the DSM-listed “Cluster B” Personality Disorders. I also wrote about how numerous mental health professionals have broken from the traditional ethics of their collective practice to warn the public of their belief that the President suffers from at least one of those mental disorders.
Many of our legislators in Washington DC, particularly on the Republican side, are displaying enabling behavior. They are trying to act as if our President’s reckless episodes are normal, glossing over careless and damaging antics that are rapidly eroding our nation’s relationships and our credibility in dangerous ways.
Take, for example, the most recent drama, carried out over the past couple of weeks. On March 4, the President heard a news story (he says on Fox) alleging that his phone had been tapped at Trump Tower in October, 2016. Rather than reaching out to any number of bright, credible individuals to whom he has instant access 24 hours a day – the FBI Director, the head of the CIA, among others – to verify the validity of this wild claim, he immediately tweeted the first thing that popped into his head for the whole world to see, accusing former President Obama of a felony without any substantiating evidence:
Obviously such a claim from a sitting President would require investigation, because America operates on the assumption that the individual holding the office of the Presidency is responsible, sane, and understands the weighty implications and impact of his/her public statements – even when they are made on Twitter at 6am.
FBI Director Comey immediately asked his superior, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, to deny the accusation, because it was untrue and Comey was concerned that it would reflect in a legally damning way on himself. The majority-Republican House Intelligence Committee investigated the matter thoroughly – at taxpayer cost, of course – and concluded that there had in fact been no surveillance of Trump Tower.
So the President then changed his story and claimed that Obama (the man whom Trump had spent years falsely claiming was born in Kenya – long after being given concrete evidence to the contrary) had actually enlisted British intelligence do the surveillance, because Obama wanted “no American fingerprints on this.” British intelligence uncharacteristically and angrily denied the absurdity of the accusation, yet as of this date, the President continues to cling to his story that Obama was tapping his phones at Trump Tower.
The entire scenario is consistent with the behaviors associated with Histrionic Personality Disorder, which include (among others):
A need to be the center of attention
Making rash decisions
Being easily influenced by others, especially those who treat them approvingly
Speaking dramatically with strong opinions, but few facts or details to back them up
In the world of reality TV, the wiretapping drama might be an entertaining sideshow, and one might debate the ethics and morality of making entertainment out of the unusual behavior of an individual suffering from mental illness. But this is the office of President of the United States – our nation’s highest visibility ambassador to the world, and simultaneously, the person in charge of our military and our nuclear arsenal. The wiretapping claim, like so many other examples of President Trump’s erratic and unstable behavior, contributes to a picture that increasingly puts our nation at risk. How?
Imagine for a moment a situation in which America must legitimately go to war, and needs the assistance of our allies. In order to commit their men and women to a battle in which their country’s citizens may lose their lives, those allies’ leaders need to feel confident that our President is telling the truth, and is basing his/her perceptions on facts, reality, and legitimate intelligence. If you were the leader of another country, would you send your people off to war based on the word of Donald Trump, as you have for other American Presidents for decades? Could hesitance of America’s allies to provide military back-up to the United States put American lives at risk?
Or consider the same scenario here at home. How many American parents would be confident that their sons and daughters currently in the military are being sent off to fight for a necessary, just cause that is not based on fantasy, overreaction, delusion, or some perceived slight to an overinflated but fragile ego? And how confident would those soldiers themselves feel that their lives are not being needlessly put at risk over a pipe dream or crackpot conspiracy theory? Would some disobey? Would doubts about the cause and about our President embolden our enemy? Would hesitance or uncertainty in some soldier likely put the lives of other soldiers – or of Americans overall – in danger?
These are just some of the implications – in one area alone – where a mentally unstable individual in the office of the President can pose a significant risk to our nation, and does not even look at the direct military scenarios that could result from “rash decision making.” There are countless other concerns: one need only consider an issue (particularly one that involves relationships, sober decision making, or foreign policy) and apply basic logic.
Yet most members of Congress – especially the Republicans – seem to want to pretend that everything happening is normal, that our President is just “unconventional,” that he’s “shaking things up in Washington just as he was elected to do.” Their only real concern seems to be that the taint of the odd behavior not cause too great a stain on themselves politically in the short term.
I believe that this denial – this unwillingness to look squarely at what is happening, acknowledge it for what it is, and take appropriate action – is either pathetic political cowardice, short-sighted partisanship, or willful enabling. Regardless of the motive, an intervention is needed for the majority of our Republican US Senators and Representatives to snap them out of their enabling and denial so that they can begin looking seriously at the need for impeachment/removal from office – before America experiences the consequences of Congressional inaction.
To be clear, this is not about policy. I disagree with Mike Pence as much on policy as I do Trump, and I would likely be vocal in my opposition to the policies of a President Pence. But my opposition would be in the communally understood context of democracy and my own sense of ethics, morality, and justice. My push-back on policy would be balanced with my ability to accept the relative soundness and stability of Mike Pence’s leadership, and the four year wait for a chance to elect a President that I consider “better.”
In the case of Donald Trump, however, I do not believe that we have anything close to four years for our political system to address the clear and present danger posed to the American people. Congress needs to act now.
– rob rünt
Trump’s Mental Health:“The Elephant in the Room”