Kanye West's expletive-laden Oval Office rant leaves President Trump speechless

There was also that incredibly awkward hug

By Matthew Rozsa

Staff Writer

Published October 11, 2018 2:27PM (EDT)

Donald Trump; Kanye West (AP/Manuel Balce Ceneta/Evan Agostini)
Donald Trump; Kanye West (AP/Manuel Balce Ceneta/Evan Agostini)

Whatever mental illness Kanye West has — whether bipolar disorder, with which he claims he was misdiagnosed, or something else entirely — was on full, raw display Thursday afternoon in the Oval Office.

As Trump sat behind the Oval Office desk looking palpably uncomfortable, West awkwardly pirouetted from one subject to another. In theory, many topics touched on things that Trump should have supported, but the best Trump could muster up after West had finished was a half-hearted, "I'll tell you what, that was pretty impressive. That was quite something."

In other words, West left Trump speechless. And that's really quite something.

And what did West discuss? It's almost beside the point, at least in terms of its political content, but can be depressingly instructive as a look at how an unraveling mind will jump from non sequitur to non sequitur thanks to logical connections that only it is capable of discerning. During his nearly 10 minute rant, West discussed: (1) why we should abolish the 13th amendment because it is a "trap door," (2) how he was misdiagnosed with bipolar disorder but he now believes he merely had sleep deprivation, (3) his admiration for Trump's trade policies, (4) a plane that West believes Trump should be flying as the new Air Force One.

There was also that incredibly awkward hug, with West proclaiming his love for Trump and the president awkwardly insisting that he didn't want to put West "in that position."

Let's pause for a moment to look at what West said about his so-called sleep deprivation, and bipolar disorder misdiagnosis, in its entirety.

"What I think is we don’t need sentences, we need pardons. We need to talk to people. I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, I was connected with a neuropsychologist that works with the athletes in the NBA and the NFL. And he looked at my brain," West told Trump.

He later boasted about his intelligence, claiming that it was in "98th percentile IQ test" and insisted that "I actually wasn't bipolar, I had sleep deprivation which can cause dementia, 10 to 20 years from now when I wouldn’t even remember my son’s name."

What's intriguing here is how West ostensibly started off by talking about prison reform, an issue on which he and Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner have hoped to push the president to the left (and even got Trump to say that he would overrule Attorney General Jeff Sessions on fighting for African American rights there if necessary). Yet instead of describing the plight of African Americans who have been wrongfully incarcerated or discussing racial disparities in sentencing, West made a bizarre effort to connect prison reform with his own supposed misdiagnosis. Taking things one step further, West became defensive about his intelligence, seeming to imply that someone with bipolar disorder is mentally weak.

What Americans saw, in short, was a man suffering from a mental illness who — in the midst of an incoherent rant that was most likely connected to that illness, and which left the traditionally garrulous president in stunned silence — accidentally admitted that he would find a mental illness diagnosis embarrassing.

The entire spectacle miraculously managed to render Donald Trump speechless.

By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer at Salon. He received a Master's Degree in History from Rutgers-Newark in 2012 and was awarded a science journalism fellowship from the Metcalf Institute in 2022.

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Related Topics ------------------------------------------

13th Amendment Donald Trump Kanye West Prison Reform