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No, President Trump isn't crazy, he's just racist

By Clarence Page, Tribune Content Agency on

Trump himself has helped to spread poisonous stereotypes since the day he launched his presidential campaign by calling undocumented Mexican immigrants "rapists" and "murders," even though he allowed that "some, I presume, are good people." More than "some," Mr. President.

Remember how ESPN anchor Jemele Hill fell into hot water in September's for calling Trump a "white supremacist" on air? I thought she sounded too extreme at that time, but now? Her time has come.

Yet the White House was slow to back away from Trump's reported remarks, according to some reports, because Team Trump figures the hostile edge to his "America First" policy plays well with his cherished base. Indeed, Trump's hunger for applause from his base at rallies or on Fox News has led him to pander persistently to that far-right minority while thumbing his nose at the rest of us.

How can we forget his rise as a candidate after questioning the validity of President Barack Obama's birth certificate, branding Mexican immigrants rapists and criminals, calling for a ban on Muslims entering the United States and responding very slo-o-owly to disavow the support of the former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke.

Since then, Trump's polarizing politics have fed widespread doubts about his mental fitness, despite (or perhaps because of) his description of himself as a "stable genius," even before Michael Wolff's runaway bestseller "Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House" raised new questions. A January Quinnipiac University poll found a slim majority of American voters (53 percent to 44 percent) say he is intelligent, but 69 percent say he not level-headed and 57 percent say that he is not fit to serve as president.

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Yet psychiatric experts tell me that normal evaluation methods probably would prove to be less than conclusive, partly because the debate is fueled and distorted by politics. Besides, troubled presidents like Abraham Lincoln, who biographers say suffered severe depression for most of his life, show that mental illness does not necessarily render one unfit to lead.

But, as Trump has shown, you don't have to be mentally ill to play on fears and promote white supremacy.

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(E-mail Clarence Page at cpage@chicagotribune.com.)

(c) 2018 CLARENCE PAGE DISTRIBUTED BY TRIBUNE MEDIA SERVICES, INC.

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