It was a theme echoed by speakers at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, and now establishment media are featuring figures from both the left and the right raising questions about Donald Trump’s “mental well-being.”
Scarborough, a former Republican congressman, said Trump was no longer the man he knew and was getting worse by the day.
“Does it have to do with his mental well-being?” asked Scarborough. “I will tell you why I ask you this. It’s pretty remarkable, I fielded calls all day yesterday from conservatives, from Republicans, from officials, from people that the media would call right-wing bloggers … and everybody was asking me about his mental health.
“It’s not like there was talking points shot out by the DNC or by anybody else,” he said. “Everybody was talking about his mental health yesterday, everybody was calling me saying, ‘What’s happening to him? What is wrong with him?'”
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President Obama also weighed in, declaring at a White House press conference Tuesday morning that Trump is “unfit to serve as president.”
See President Obama’s comments on Trump:
Fox News media analyst Howie Kurtz wrote that “the core argument that Hillary Clinton and her allies pushed at the Democratic convention – that Trump is beyond the pale – resonates with plenty of folks in the press.”
Kurtz cited the New York Times describing the effort in Philadelphia as attempting “to portray Mr. Trump as a dangerously unstable figure,” built on the notion “that the American system was designed to prevent the rise of a dictator.”
Even Clinton media supporters, the Times noted, didn’t argue that Clinton gave a great speech but praised her for her anti-Trump mockery.
Kurtz noted the media “mostly panned Trump’s speech as a dark exercise in fear-mongering,” because he focused so heavily on the problems facing America.
Stephen Collinson wrote for CNN.com Monday, “By any conventional standard, Donald Trump just blundered through the worst three days of any presidential candidate in living memory.
“Showing a characteristic refusal to back down from a fight, Trump took the almost unthinkable step of publicly escalating a feud with the parents of fallen U.S. soldier, Capt. Humayun Khan, who blasted Trump at last week’s Democratic convention as unfit for the presidency.”
Rush Limbaugh reacted Tuesday to Obama’s remarks, commenting it is “unprecedented for a sitting president to get this deep in the campaign to replace him.”
“This is arrogance on parade,” Limbaugh said. “This is not presidential. This is banana-republic territory.”
“I’ll tell you what I think they’re worried about, and it’s why Trump had better get back on offense fast,” he continued. “They know that Hillary Clinton is a dud as a candidate. They know they have to take Trump out, and by that I mean they have got to destroy Trump’s ability to maintain and increase his support by attacks on his sanity, his character, competence and all that.
“I have yet to hear these people extolling the virtues of Hillary Clinton, other than the perfunctory required virtue extolment at their convention.”
Related column: “Why Democrats are attacking Trump’s sanity,” by David Kupelian
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who ran for the Republican nomination and endorsed Trump when he dropped out of the race, tweeted a response to Obama’s remarks.
“Trump ‘unfit?’ Obama entered office w/o 5 minutes of successful executive experience. Eight years later, he’ll leave it the same way.”
‘Signs of mental illness’
Monday night on CNN, TV psychologist Dr. Drew Pinsky, Raw Story reported, told Don Lemon that Trump does not fit the stringent legal definition for insanity but does show signs of multiple mental illnesses.
Pinsky wondered if Trump might show signs of bipolar disorder, which is characterized by unusual shifts in mood, energy and activity levels, along with an inability to carry out daily functions.
“When I hear people that are impulsive with their speech, I worry about hypomania and bipolar types of conditions,” Pinsky said. “As he says, he has boundless energy. Again, a little hypomania can be great. There are a lot of hypomanic businessmen that get a ton done. Containing your speech, be thoughtful, take a beat before you say something, for those people it can be very, very difficult.”
Pinsky said he was more interested in Trump’s supporters than the candidate himself.
“What’s more fascinating to me, Don, is not him but his supporters that seem to not be concerned about any of this,” Pinsky said. “That, to me, is fascinating. As always, what is up with us?”
The left-leaning website AlterNet highlighted “10 political and psychological observers who think Trump may have gone off the deep end,” saying recent “unhinged rants have raised questions about the candidate’s mental state.”
The story led with: “Donald Trump has triggered more than one anxiety attack in the American electorate, and new speculation about his mental stability is not likely to help.”
Among the people it cited who identify with the right were Stephen Hayes of the Weekly Standard, who wrote shortly after the GOP convention, “Donald Trump is not of sound mind,” and New York Times columnist David Brooks, who wrote after the Democratic convention that Trump “appears haunted by multiple personality disorders.”
The paper said Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s plea for Hillary Clinton at the Democratic National Convention, “Let’s elect a sane, competent person,” barely disguised an extraordinary allegation.
“Bloomberg’s remark was a sign of a quiet shift over the last month in the mainstream discussion of the Republican presidential nominee. Once unmentionable, questions about Trump’s mental health have started to bubble into respectable American forums as he has inched closer to the nuclear codes of the world’s mightiest military while behaving stranger than ever,” the paper said.
In a Forbes.com article, contributor Emily Willingham wrote that people “can’t stop talking about the status of Donald Trump’s mental health even as many people agree that armchair diagnoses are inappropriate.”
In an interview with CNN Tuesday, Rep. Ruben Gallego, D-Ariz., accused Trump of being “mentally unstable,” citing Trump’s criticism of the parents of Gold Star parents Khizr and Ghazala Khan.
“This man is unstable, he’s unfit to be a presidential candidate,” Gallego said, in a matter-of-fact tone that seemed to catch CNN host Carol Costello off guard.
“You think he’s unstable?” Costello asked.
“I absolutely believe he’s unstable,” Gallego replied.
“Like mentally unstable?” Costello pressed.
“I do believe he’s mentally unstable,” Gallego responded.
In an opinion piece in the Washington Post Monday headlined, “There is something very wrong with Donald Trump,” Robert Kagan wrote: “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.”
Kagan charged that Trump’s response to various speakers at the Democratic National Convention has not been rational.
“Why denigrate the parents of a soldier who died serving his country in Iraq?” he asked. “And why keep it going for four days? Why assail the record of a decorated general who commanded U.S. forces in Afghanistan? Why make fun of the stature of a popular former mayor of New York? Surely Trump must know that at any convention, including his own, people get up and criticize the opposition party’s nominee. They get their shots in, just as your party got its shots in. And then you move on to the next phase of the campaign. You don’t take a crack at every single person who criticized you. And you especially don’t pick fights that you can’t possibly win, such as against a grieving Gold Star mother or a general. It’s simply not in your interest to do so.”
In an interview with MSNBC in March, Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., said the “ultimate punishment for women in this country would be if Donald Trump gets elected president.”
Speier said, “At this point, I don’t think you can describe Donald Trump in any way but deranged. Deranged Donald should be his label. He has made it so crystal clear that he thinks of women as chattel. And the fact that women would be punished for having a legal procedure is unbelievable to me.”
An opinion column in the Washington Post by University of Chicago professor Harold Pollack was headlined, “Joe McCarthy was brought down by attacks on his decency. Trump will lose the same way.”