We May Need the 25th Amendment, wrote the New Yorker one week before the election, but only for Donald Trump; with Joe Biden, there is nothing to worry about. (Welcome, Instapundit readers.)
Before getting to Sleepy Joe, needless to say, Jeannie Suk Gerson spends eight long paragraphs discussing why 25 applies primarily to Trump, who is a psychopath comparable, she suggests at one point, to… Hitler and Stalin. Furthermore, her history of the 25th "in temporary and limited ways" invokes Ronald Reagan, Richard Nixon, and George W Bush, but not a single Democrat.
As it turns out, Joe Biden's health, mental or otherwise, is nothing to worry about. All the fears you may have about him are due to nothing more serious than a "lifelong stutter."
The only reason to fear for a candidate's mental health is if — as expected (sic) — Trump loses, Jeannie Suk Gersen says, because then
the period between November 3rd and Inauguration Day, on January 20th, is likely to be “the most dangerous moment” in his Presidency. “What does a malignant narcissistic person do when they’re enraged?” [John Gartner, a Duty to Warn psychologist] said. “They want to act out in an aggressive and sadistic way, to regain their sense of power.”
If you can stomach reading them, here are some excerpts from the New Yorker article:
Throughout the past four years, there has been chatter about Donald Trump’s mental health and stability, but little political will to make use of the Twenty-fifth Amendment to the Constitution, which allows Congress to deem a President “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office” and remove him from power. … The news that he was medicated with the steroid dexamethasone, used for seriously ill covid-19 patients, also alarmed many because its known side effects include aggression, agitation, and “grandiose delusions”—behaviors that, judging from the President’s Twitter account, at least, he already seemed to exhibit.
… Section four of the Twenty-fifth Amendment provides two distinct avenues for removing a President against his will. In one, the Vice-President joins with a majority of the Cabinet to send Congress a written declaration that the President is unable to serve. In the other, the Vice-President does so along with a majority of “such other body as Congress may by law provide.”
… The questioning of Trump’s fitness has persisted throughout his Presidency, as members of his party and his close associates fed the narrative of a deteriorating mind. In 2017, then Senator Bob Corker, a Republican from Tennessee who was then the chair of the Foreign Relations Committee, called the White House an “adult day care center”; he went on to say, “I know for a fact that every single day at the White House, it’s a situation of trying to contain him.” In “A Warning,” published in 2019, an anonymous senior Trump official reported: “He stumbles, slurs, gets confused, is easily irritated, and has trouble synthesizing information, not occasionally but with regularity.” Similarly to Corker, the Administration official added that working with Trump was “like showing up at the nursing home at daybreak.” Other senior officials have said that Trump, who is seventy-four, appeared to be suffering from some form of dementia. Trump’s former White House adviser Omarosa Newman stated in her book “Unhinged,” in 2018, that Trump’s “mental decline could not be denied.” Trump’s former White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci said, in 2019, that Trump “has declining mental faculties.”
Others, including Trump’s niece Mary L. Trump, a clinical psychologist, have said that Trump’s behavior shows the symptoms of narcissistic personality disorder. A number of mental-health experts have also suggested that he may suffer from malignant narcissism, a term that was coined by the psychologist Erich Fromm, in 1964, in order to describe Hitler and Stalin. John Gartner, the psychologist who spearheaded the Duty to Warn movement in 2017 and has advocated removing Trump through the Twenty-fifth Amendment, told me that malignant narcissism is a “psychiatric condition that makes you evil,” combining narcissism (which features the extremes of poor self-esteem and distorted self-enlargement), paranoia (which Gartner sees in “the crazy conspiracy theories, sense of victimization, and demonization of minorities”), psychopathy (“lying and exploiting people”), and sadism. The condition is considered dangerous because the combination of aggression, suspiciousness, lack of empathy, and a fragile ego might result in vindictive and destructive acts when the sufferer is wounded. Shortly before Trump’s impeachment trial, in February, more than eight hundred mental-health professionals signed a letter to Congress, warning that “failing to monitor or to understand the psychological aspects” of humiliating Trump “could lead to catastrophic outcomes.”
Trump has repeatedly flipped the conversation about mental deterioration onto his opponent, who many have claimed also shows signs of senility. At a March rally, Trump said, of Biden, “They’re going to put him in a home, and other people are going to be running the country.” Talk of Biden’s mental decline began during the Democratic primary campaign last year, as other candidates observed that Biden garbled sentences, misspoke, and failed to finish trains of thought in some debates. (Biden has spoken about having a lifelong stutter.)
Last spring, Bernie Sanders’s surrogates and supporters promoted the hashtag #WhereIsJoe, implying that Biden’s campaign was keeping him out of sight to hide mental infirmity. Glenn Greenwald, founder of the Intercept and an outspoken Sanders supporter, tweeted that “the steadfast, wilful refusal of Dem political & media elites to address what is increasingly visible to the naked eye — Biden’s serious cognitive decline — is frightening.” Biden, who has said he would not seek a second term as President, released his physician’s report that he is healthy and “fit to successfully execute the duties of the Presidency” but offered nothing specific about his cognitive health.
… As Frank Bruni put it, in the Times, “Please tell me why I should care whether Joe Biden is declining mentally when Donald Trump bottomed out morally long ago.”
Trailing Biden in polls, Trump has continually triggered shock waves around election integrity, claiming election fraud, attacking confidence in the process’s legitimacy, urging his supporters to “go into the polls and watch very carefully,” and, most alarmingly, at times refusing to commit to a peaceful transfer of power. (When pressed by NBC News’s Savannah Guthrie in mid-October, he did commit to a peaceful transfer of power.) If, as seems likely, voters deliver a loss for Trump, the Twenty-fifth Amendment comes into different focus, as an essential support to the democratic electoral process rather than an end run around it. In the event that the President’s mental state leads him to try to circumvent the election result in order to stay in power, having Congress remove him via the Twenty-fifth Amendment as “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office” would be as legitimate a function of constitutional democracy as can be imagined.
John Gartner, the Duty to Warn psychologist, told me that, if Trump loses the election, the period between November 3rd and Inauguration Day, on January 20th, is likely to be “the most dangerous moment” in his Presidency. “What does a malignant narcissistic person do when they’re enraged?” Gartner said. “They want to act out in an aggressive and sadistic way, to regain their sense of power.” He compared the voting public to “the abused spouse” who finally says to the abuser, “We’re going to leave you. We’re kicking you out of the house. Come January, we’re packing your bags. Well, what does he do then?” During that transition, it might be most important to have the Twenty-fifth Amendment at the ready. As for Biden’s mental health, Gartner declined to say that there were no signs of cognitive decline. But, referring to Donald Winnicott’s notion of the “good enough mother,” he deemed Biden “the good enough President.”