President Donald J. Trump, seen through a window, watches a television in the press office as newscasters talk about him moments after he was speaking with members of the coronavirus task force during a briefing in response to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Trump’s "psychological illness" makes him unfit for a second term

Writer Richard North Patterson asks again whether Trump, like Nixon, is mentally unfit for presidential office

Alex Henderson
July 4, 2020 8:00AM (UTC)

This article originally appeared on AlterNet.

In June 2016, Never Trumper Richard North Patterson wrote a scathing HuffPost article asserting that Donald Trump was mentally unfit to serve as president of the United States. And four years later, Patterson revisits that subject in an equally scathing article for The Bulwark — stressing that Trump's "psychological illness" and "disabling instability" have greatly affected his presidency and make him unfit for a second term.

Patterson (former chairman of Common Cause and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations) covered a lot of ground in his HuffPost piece, which ran with the headline, "Too Sick to Lead: The Lethal Personality Disorder of Donald Trump." The Never Trumper made a Trump/Richard Nixon comparison in 2016, asserting that Trump shared some of Nixon's character flaws — for example, "dishonesty and paranoia" — but lacked Nixon's intellect and was incapable of "navigating the larger world and understanding complex situations and people." Trump, Patterson warned, was "infinitely more dangerous" than Nixon. And in his Bulwark article, Patterson stands by everything he said four years ago.


"Most remarkable about (Trump's) psychological illness is the utter consistency of his behaviors," Patterson stresses. "My descriptions of his pathology, and how it would operate in office, are as applicable today as they were four years ago. Save for factual references specific to 2016, I need not change a word. This owes nothing to my special insight and everything to Trump's inability to be anything other than what he was and always will be: a man far too disturbed to occupy the White House."

In 2020, Patterson adds, the burning question, is: "will a critical swath of voters, despite all we've learned about his unfitness for the presidency, return this man to power?" That remains to be seen, but Patterson asserts that three and one-half years after Trump was sworn in as president, one cannot "rationalize" his bad behavior.

"No longer can we rationalize away his disabling instability — not for tax cuts or judges or ideology writ large," Patterson writes. "By deliberately averting their eyes from the incessant manifestations of his feral inner landscape, the GOP and much of the news media became complicit in his Electoral College victory — and the damage he has inflicted on our democracy and society."


Patterson goes on to say, "In 2020, America's electorate has experienced three and a half years of the most aberrant presidency in our history. We have no excuses left. ... We have witnessed his manipulation of the Justice Department, attacks on the rule of law, refusal to honor congressional subpoenas, fascination with authoritarian leaders, assertions of unlimited power, and attempts to solicit or compel electoral assistance from foreign governments."

One of the many examples of Trump's "psychological illness," according to Patterson, was evident when he falsely accused MSNBC's Joe Scarborough of murder. When Scarborough (one of Trump's most outspoken critics on the right) was serving in the U.S. House of Representatives as a Republican in 2001, a female employee who suffered from a heart condition, Lori Klausutis, fell and hit her head. An autopsy was performed, and there was no evidence whatsoever of any type of foul play. But as Patterson points out, that didn't stop Trump from promoting the nonsense conspiracy theory that Scarborough killed her.

"In reality," Patterson notes, "she died of a heart attack when Scarborough was 500 miles away. But Trump's cruelty caused her anguished widower to implore Twitter to delete his sadistic tweets."


Patterson concludes his Bulwark article by asserting that Trump's presidency is not only an indictment of Trump itself, but also, of all the Republicans who allied themselves with him despite his many abuses.

"The problem of Trump transcends party or ideology, and so does our need to be rid of him," Patterson writes. "For there is no constitutional guarantee against a president too mentally ill to respect its terms — and a party too craven to stop him. Until further notice, we have both."

Alex Henderson

MORE FROM Alex Henderson

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

Alternet Donald Trump Huffington Post Mentally Unfit Richard Nixon Richard North Patterson The Bulwark

Fearless journalism
in your inbox every day

Sign up for our free newsletter

• • •