Is Trump's doctor OK?
We see it in the once-dignified Sen. Orrin Hatch suggesting Trump is on his way to being a better president than Lincoln or Washington, in Rep. Kevin McCarthy collecting pink and red Starburst candy for Trump, in the lies told by Sens. Tom Cotton and David Perdue and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen to cover for Trump's racist outburst, and in the fawning public performances by White House officials Stephen Miller and Sarah Huckabee Sanders. What makes them trash their dignity?
I put the question to Bandy X. Lee, the Yale Medical School psychiatrist who compiled the controversial book "The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump," raising doubts about Trump's mental fitness.
Lee said the screening test Jackson gave Trump "gives the public a false sense of reassurance." Indeed, Donald Trump Jr. used the results of the test in a tweet: "More #winning. 30 out of 30."
She said the test, though useful for detecting Alzheimer's and the like, indicates little about "his high functioning, his frontal-lobe functioning, that we're questioning." To figure out what causes the worrisome traits President Trump exhibits -- disordered decision-making, an insatiable need for affirmation, little impulse control, confusion about facts, difficulty foreseeing consequences -- you'd need more extensive tests, a psychological exam and an MRI.
But, in a sense, you don't need a doctor's diagnosis to see that there's a lot of chaos and volatility in the presidential brain.
That, Lee speculates, could explain powerful sycophancy that overcomes those who get close to Trump. "Those close to him are sensing this level of appeasement is necessary," Lee speculated. They "feel they need to step in as a way to diminish his volatility and rage."
The danger, Lee said, is that Trump's courtiers do this for too long and succumb to "shared psychosis," in which they come to "share his view of the world and lose touch with reality."
They might even come to believe that a sedentary 71-year-old with significant plaque in his coronary arteries, high cholesterol and borderline obesity is the very picture of health.
Follow Dana Milbank on Twitter, @Milbank.
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