Friends, Republicans, countrymen, lend me your ears. I come to praise President Donald Trump, not to place him in an elder-care home. Any concerns regarding my old friend’s mental health are as distant a memory as the Mooch’s reign as communications director. That’s because earlier this year, Americans received blessed assurance — from no less an authority than the White House physician — that their president is of sound mind and herculean body.
Dr. Ronny Jackson is an honorable man, and just more than three months ago, he declared to a watchful world that the Manhattan billionaire’s ability to draw boxes, tell time and identify giraffes in pictures was all the proof he needed that our commander in chief’s mental health was strong. For good measure, Jackson deduced that Trump is so genetically superior to mere mortals, the Queens native could live 200 years if he just stopped supersizing his Big Mac value meals.
And why should we doubt his word? Dr. Ronny Jackson is an honorable man.
But how comforting are Jackson’s assurances when America’s president calls into a morning cable-news show and launches into a nearly 30-minute tirade that places himself in greater legal jeopardy while simultaneously encouraging his personal lawyer to turn state’s evidence against him? Trump’s performance last week was so unhinged, it ultimately provoked the increasingly uncomfortable “Fox & Friends” hosts to nudge him off their air.
Trump’s nationally televised rant no doubt left presidential fixer Michael Cohen crestfallen, but it had the lawyer for Stormy Daniels, an adult-film actress whom Cohen paid to keep quiet about an alleged sexual encounter with Trump, salivating. Cohen must have been asking himself why anyone would go on television and damage his legal standing in both California and the Southern District of New York. The president’s unmoored performance also prompted prosecutors in the U.S. attorney’s office to amend their pleadings to insert Trump’s statements. Cohen, we learned from the president, was actually nothing more than a bit player in the Trump Organization’s legal schemes. So how much of his communications with Trump could even be privileged?
It goes without saying, but still bears repeating, that any chief executive who surrendered so many statements against interest would immediately be removed. And any man who used a television interview to make such damaging legal admissions would be fired by his lawyers and put to bed by anxious family members. But Jackson has told us Trump is in peak mental health — and the good doctor is an honorable man.
Never mind that this last week’s “Fox & Friends” appearance was one of the president’s first television interviews since he sat down with NBC News’ Lester Holt and admitted having fired then-FBI Director James Comey in an effort to obstruct the investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election.
And let us not forget that, a few days later, the genetically superior former reality star also confessed to Russia’s foreign minister and ambassador that he had fired Comey to end the Russian investigation and relieve “pressure” that had been building from the inquiry. These self-destructive admissions by Trump helped to launch the special counsel’s exploration of possible obstruction of justice.
But despite a multitude of mental lapses, I am no longer concerned by the president’s troublesome behavior, or his Olympian ability to self-incriminate whenever he talks on live TV. Jackson has assured me that Trump is a mentally fit specimen, and Dr. Ronny is an honorable man.
This has to be true because a White House spokesman channeled Shakespeare last week saying just that. “He is an honorable man,” Deputy Press Secretary Hogan Gidley offered of Jackson in response to allegations that the White House doctor drank alcohol on the job and freely handed out prescription drugs. Jackson denied those accusations, then withdrew his nomination to be Trump’s secretary of veterans affairs.
So I have come to conclude that the fault is not in our stars, but in my own personal misdiagnosis of what ails Trump. Given his recent history of self-defeating statements, the president is clearly not suffering through the early stages of dementia, but is afflicted instead by the political equivalent of self-harm syndrome. What else could explain continued rants so personally destructive that no rational person — let alone a sitting president — would behave in such a way?
This is not about Trumpian political disruption. It is, instead, a study in self-immolation. And one of the many tragedies of Trump’s life is that there is no one on this Earth who can save this tortured man from himself. Not even the honorable Dr. Jackson.
Joe Scarborough, a former Republican congressman from Florida, hosts the MSNBC show “Morning Joe.”
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