Clear scientific evidence confirming that Donald Trump is an honest-to-goodness nut job may be found in Section 1.2.18 of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition.
Therein, the chief diagnostic tool of the American Psychiatric Association describes the nine, nine (count ’em — nine), clinical symptoms that define narcissistic personality disorder; from “an exaggerated sense of self-importance” and the expectation “to be recognized as superior even without achievements that warrant it” to “being preoccupied with fantasies about success, power, brilliance, beauty, or the perfect mate,” The Donald rings the bell on every one.
You could look it up.
To be sure, a more or less healthy streak of narcissism is just table stakes for every politician in America. We speak here, however, of genuine-article mental illness, which the presumptive Republican presidential nominee seems prodigiously to display all day every day.
As a political matter, it’s no perfunctory factor, because it allows Democratic rival Hillary Clinton to pull off a nifty bit of political jujitsu: Although her very flawed candidacy is essentially premised on campaigning for President Obama’s third term, she is succeeding so far in casting the race fundamentally as a referendum on Trump, not on herself.
That may be the biggest reason she opened up a 52-to-39 percent lead in a new Washington Post national poll and at press time is an overwhelming favorite among professional gamblers (check out paddypower.com on your Google machine) to win the White House on November 8. Here are some others:
Electoral College: As every schoolchild knows, Democrats have won 18 states and the District of Columbia in every one of the last six elections, giving them a base of 242 Electoral Votes in the race to 270; by contrast, Republicans since 1992 have begun with a base of 13 states with a total of 102 EVs. Trump’s hair-on-fire act was just the thing for a wide-open Republican primary season packed with 16 rivals and a seething slice of the electorate dominated by choleric old white guys. But a general election, with its far more diverse universe of voters, is an entirely different production and, so far at least, The Donald has no second act.
The MSM wakes up: Trump walked all over the mainstream media in the primary, when his candidacy often was treated more as cheap entertainment than a serious story with enormously high stakes. More recently, the national press corps has proved tougher and more skeptical, on stories from his lies about donating to veterans’ groups to his murky business affairs and his racist comments about a federal judge overseeing a class-action suit against him.
He can’t consolidate his party: George Will, the dean of D.C. conservative pundits, just renounced his GOP registration in protest of Trump, the latest sign of Republican intellectuals abandoning ship. Other elites keep pressing a rear-guard action to deny the reality TV star the nomination at their convention, while foreign policy neo-cons trend Hillary — hello, Brent Scowcroft— and some Christian evangelicals remain cranky about his suspect views on abortion rights. The sole bloc of the Republican coalition deeply loyal to him is the Tea Party. Oh, and white supremacists.
What Does Trump Have to Hide? The GOP wannabe so far has refused to release his tax returns, the first candidate in modern memory to do so. Revelations contained in litigation against his Trump University offer one glimpse into his sleazy business practices, while New York Times investigative reporting about him cashing in on the bankruptcies of gambling casinos is another. More to come.
Elizabeth Warren is in his head: The biggest rock star of the progressive wing of the Democratic Party relishes her attack-dog role as she constantly savages the notoriously thin-skinned Trump on the stump and on Twitter: And he keeps rising to the bait, doing Clinton a favor by stooping to engage her surrogate.
The Massachusetts senator, noting Trump’s recent comments applauding his own cleverness is cashing in on the 2008 financial crisis, said this at a raucous rally with Clinton this week in toss-up Ohio:
“What kind of a man does that? What kind of a man roots for people to lose their jobs, to lose their homes, to lose their life’s savings? I’ll tell you what kind of a man: a small, insecure, moneygrubber who fights for no one but himself. What kind of a man? A nasty man who will never become president of the United States.”
Only 131 days until the election!