It’s Not Getting Better and It Won’t
There are millions of families in the United States who would love to have a XXV Amendment to help them deal with mental illness in their children, spouses or siblings.
No matter how well meaning family members might be, their hands are tied by the law’s tilt toward the rights of the patient.
Fortunately, the rules differ when it is the President who is “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.”
This is worth considering because “It’s Not Getting Better and It Won’t.”
Here is the first paragraph of Section 4 of the XXV Amendment to the Constitution.
“Whenever the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting President.”
There is a second paragraph dealing with the procedure for resolving disagreements. It involves both houses of Congress, time frames, hearings and supermajorities.
First term Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse seems to be staking a claim to the “sane but still conservative” lane in future presidential contests. “We are in the midst of a civilization-warping crisis of public trust, and the President’s allegations today demand the thorough and dispassionate attention of serious patriots. A quest for the full truth, rather than knee-jerk partisanship, must be our guide if we are going to rebuild civic trust and health.”
He might or might not favor invoking the XXV Amendment but, for whatever reason (and self serving ambition should never be far from our thinking about politicians), he is making it easier for others to contemplate the idea.
My friend John LeBoutillier, former Congressman and author of Harvard Hates America: The Odyssey of a Born-again American, now co-hosts Revolution The Podcast with radio veteran Arlene Bynon. The most recent episode deals with the President’s mental health.
Their guest was John Gartner, a psychologist at Johns Hopkins University who believes that President Trump is mentally ill.
He uses all of the words that lay people have no idea they are using imprecisely or even incorrectly. I have to believe he is using them properly because I am not sufficiently trained or experienced to suggest otherwise.
Here are some examples: psychotic antisocial lie; psychotic delusions; malignant narcissism; bipolar; hypomanic; grandiosity; impulsive. You get the picture.
There is a rule in the mental health field named for Barry Goldwater. It says that diagnosing a person you have not treated is unethical.
Gartner points to another ethical precept – the duty to warn – to refute the applicability of the Goldwater Rule.
He also notes that the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) is intentionally written in the language of lay people to enable observed behavior to help determine diagnoses. He makes a fascinating point – not helpful to his profession – that the psychological interview session (where the patient can lie) is less effective than simply observing patient behavior.
Essentially, if a person does this, this and this, professionals say the behavior constitutes mental illness.
Gartner notes that the DSM was created after the Goldwater rule and thus, presumably, supersedes it.
Gartner is far from unbiased and that shows when he turns his attention to the motivations of Republicans who are keeping their heads down out of a sense of tribal self-preservation.
There are many points made by President Trump before and since his election that are entirely deserving of our attention because they have long been neglected.
Washington is corrupt and virtually everyone involved participates in that corruption. That is a worthy problem.
If our trade policy was aimed at international political stature rather than our economic interests, the plight of those who suffered is a worthy problem.
There are others.
Sadly, the good points made by Donald Trump are likely to be dismissed from political debate because of his association with them.
“Swamp draining is not a real problem that is just a Trump thing and we all know about him.”
I bet there are lots of families dealing with mental illness that would invoke the XXV Amendment if such a thing were available to them. Sadly it is not but that is another story.
According to a professional whom I have known for many years and for whom I have the highest regard, “It’s Not Getting Better and It Won’t.”