By Robert Reich
On Saturday, during a campaign speech in Durham, New Hampshire, Donald Trump invoked Vladimir Putin (of all people) as proof that he’s being persecuted:
“Putin says that Biden’s — and this is a quote — politically motivated persecution of his political rival is very good for Russia, because it shows the rottenness of the American political system, which cannot pretend to teach others about democracy.”
Some commentators see this and other Trump assertions about being persecuted as calculated efforts to fuel his base.
But what if Trump really thinks he’s being persecuted? What if he has a persecution complex? What if he believes his paranoid fantasies?
Trump is not facing nearly the same scrutiny for his age as is Joe Biden, yet Trump should be — especially as to increasing signs of dementia.
Biden is sane. He’s getting major bills passed. He’s negotiating with world leaders.
But Trump — who has a family history of dementia — is increasingly incoherent and unhinged.
He has confused Biden with Obama so often that he’s had to put out a statement that the slips have been intentional.
In September, Trump suggested that the way to prevent wildfires in California’s forest lands is to keep them damp. Here are his exact words:
“They say that there’s so much water up north that I want to have the overflow areas go into your forests and dampen your forests, because if you dampen your forests you’re not gonna have these forest fires that are burning at levels that nobody’s ever seen.”
He also said that under his administration, shoplifters would be subject to extrajudicial execution.
“We will immediately stop all the pillaging and theft. Very simply, if you rob a store, you can fully expect to be shot as you are leaving that store.”
In October, Trump warned his supporters that Biden will lead America into World War Two.
He has also claimed that Hezbollah, the Iranian-backed militant group, is “very smart.” That whales are being killed by windmills. That he won all 50 states in 2020. That he defeated Barack Obama in 2016. That the outgoing chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff should be executed. That MSNBC’s parent company is guilty of treason, and will “pay.” And that he will only be a dictator on “Day 1”of a new term.
The most telling evidence of Trump’s growing dementia is found in his paranoid thirst for revenge, on which he is now centering his entire campaign.
On November 11, he pledged to a crowd of supporters in Claremont, New Hampshire, that:
“We will root out the communists, Marxists, fascists and the radical left thugs that live like vermin within the confines of our country, that lie and steal and cheat on elections and will do anything possible — they’ll do anything, whether legally or illegally, to destroy America and to destroy the American dream.”
Are these the words of a sane person? Or of an aging paranoid megalomaniac? Even if it’s unclear to which category Trump belongs, shouldn’t this question be central to the coverage of his campaign for reelection?
When I’ve asked members of the media why they’re not covering the increasing signs of Trump’s dementia, they say it’s “old news.”
After all, back in 2017, 27 psychiatrists, psychologists, and other mental health professionals concluded in The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump that Trump’s mental health posed a “clear and present danger” to the nation.
Members of Trump’s own Cabinet — horrified by the January 6, 2021, violence at the Capitol and Trump’s lack of urgency in stopping it — discussed whether to invoke the the 25th Amendment to remove him from office due to mental incompetence.
But just because Trump has shown mental instability in the past doesn’t make his mental problems any less relevant now that he is seeking reelection. They’re more relevant. He appears even more delusional and unhinged than before.
If Biden’s age is fair game, why aren’t Trump’s age and apparent mental decline?
Biden may appear frail at times, but he’s rational. The growing evidence of Trump’s dementia and paranoia, on the other hand, poses a potential danger to the future of America — if he’s reelected. At the least, the media should be investigating and reporting on it.
This article was published at Robert Reich’s Substack