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Dr. John Gartner: "The Press Is Pathologizing The Normal In The Case Of Biden...

...And Normalizing The Pathological In The Case Of Trump"




Last weekend, Trump was campaigning in a corner of Georgia he had no reason to campaign in. He was in Marjorie Traitor Greene’s district, in Rome, backward Floyd County seat, a racist hellhole in the northwest corner of the state. Trump won 69% of the Floyd County vote in 2016 and 70% in 2020. New Yorker columnist Susan Glasser attended and listened to Trump’s 2 hour, rambling, unhinged, vituperative rally. She called the largely overlooked and under-covered alternative reality, his first speech since clinching the 2024 GOP nomination, “oh-so-revealing.” It was his response to Biden’s SOTU.


“Trump’s speech,” she wrote, “made little effort to draw substantive contrasts with Biden. Instead, the Washington Post counted nearly five dozen references to Biden in the course of the Georgia rally, almost all of them epithets drawn from the Trump marketing playbook for how to rip down an opponent—words like’ ‘angry,’ ‘corrupt,’ ‘crooked,’ ‘flailing,’ ‘incompetent,’ ‘stupid’ and ‘weak.” Trump is, always and forever, a puerile bully, stuck perpetually on the fifth-grade playground. But the politics of personal insult has worked so well for Trump that he is, naturally, doubling down on it in 2024. In fact, one of the clips from Trump’s speech on Saturday which got the most coverage was his mockery of Biden’s stutter: a churlish— and, no doubt, premeditated— slur. And yet there was the GOP strategist Karl Rove, writing this week in the Wall Street Journal that it was Biden who had ‘lowered himself with shortsighted and counterproductive blows’ in his State of the Union speech. Trump’s entire campaign is a study in grotesque slander, but Rove did not even mention Trump’s Georgia rally while sanctimoniously tut-tutting about Biden. And I don’t mean to single out Rove; it was hard to find any right-leaning commentators who did otherwise. This many years into the Trump phenomenon, they’ve figured out that the best way to deal with Trump’s excesses is simply to pretend they do not exist.”


Hanging over both speeches was the increasingly burning question of performance, as the country is now forced to choose between two aging leaders aspiring to remain in the White House well into their eighties. Trump has arguably lowered the bar for Biden, with his constant insults aimed at the President’s age and capacity, and Biden managed to clear it, turning his State of the Union into an affirmation— for fretting Democratic partisans, at least— that he has the vigor and fight to keep going in the job.
Trump’s appearance in Georgia, by contrast, reflected a man not rooted in any kind of reality, one who struggled to remember his words and who was, by any definition, incoherent, disconnected, and frequently malicious. (This video compilation, circulating on social media, nails it.) In one lengthy detour, he complained about Biden once being photographed on a beach in his bathing suit. Which led him to Cary Grant, which led him to Michael Jackson, which led him back to the point that even Cary Grant wouldn’t have looked good in a bathing suit at age eighty-one. In another aside, he bragged about how much “women love me,” citing as proof the “suburban housewives from North Carolina” who travel to his rallies around the country. He concluded that portion of his speech by saying:
But it was an amazing phenomenon and I do protect women. Look, they talk about suburban housewives. I believe I’m doing well— you know, the polls are all rigged. Of course lately they haven’t been rigged because I’m winning by so much, so I don’t want to say it. Disregard that statement. I love the polls very much.
Makes perfect sense, right?
It was no surprise, of course, that Trump began his speech by panning Biden’s: “the worst President in history, making the worst State of the Union speech in history,” an “angry, dark, hate-filled rant” that was “the most divisive, partisan, radical, and extreme” such address ever given. As always, what really stuns is Trump’s lack of self-awareness. Remember his “American carnage” address? Well, never mind. Get past the unintended irony, though, and what’s striking is how much of Trump’s 2024 campaign platform is being built on an edifice of lies, and not just the old, familiar lies about the “rigged election” which have figured prominently in every speech Trump has made since his defeat four years ago.
Trump’s over-the-top distortions of his record as President— “the greatest economy in history”; “the biggest tax cut in history”; “I did more for Black people than any President other than Abraham Lincoln”— are now joined by an equally flamboyant new set of untruths about Biden’s Presidency, which Trump portrayed in Saturday’s speech as a hellish time of almost fifty-per-cent inflation and an economy “collapsing into a cesspool of ruin,” with rampaging migrants being let loose from prisons around the world and allowed into the United States, on Biden’s orders, to murder and pillage and steal jobs from “native-born Americans.” Biden, in Trump’s current telling, is both a drooling incompetent being controlled by “fascists” and a corrupt criminal mastermind, “weaponizing” the U.S. government and its criminal-justice system to come after his opponent. His campaign slogan for 2024 might be summed up by one of the rally’s pithier lines: “Everything Joe Biden touches turns to shit. Everything.”


Indeed, Trump’s efforts this year to blame Biden for literally everything have taken on a baroque quality even by the modern-day standards of the party that introduced Willie Horton and Swift-boating into the political lexicon. Consider their latest cause célèbre, the tragic recent death of a young woman, Laken Riley, in which the accused is an undocumented migrant. Trump explicitly blamed Biden and his “crime-against-humanity” border policies for her death. “Laken Riley would be alive today,” he said, “if Joe Biden had not willfully and maliciously eviscerated the borders of the United States and set loose thousands and thousands of dangerous criminals into our country.” Against such treachery, Trump offers a simple, apocalyptic choice: doomsday if Biden is reëlected, or liberation from “these tyrants and villains once and for all.” Wars will be ended at the mere thought of Trump retaking power; crime will cease; arrests will be made; dissenters will be silenced.
I recognize that a speech such as the one that Trump delivered the other night is hard to distill into the essence required of a news story. His detours on Saturday included complaints about Jeff Zucker, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Martha Stewart, Megyn Kelly, “the big plagiarizer from Harvard,” Ron “DeSanctimonious,” the Washington Post, “Trump-deranged judge” Lewis Kaplan, “the fascist and racist attorney general of New York State,” “corrupt Fani Willis,” Merrick Garland, and the F.B.I., which, Trump claimed, “offers one million dollars to a writer of fiction about Donald Trump to lie and say it was fact where Hunter Biden’s laptop from hell was Russian disinformation.” What was he talking about? I don’t know. The man has so many grievances and so many enemies that it is, understandably, hard to keep them straight.
But whether or not it’s news in the conventional sense, it’s easiest to understand the threat that Trump poses to American democracy most clearly when you see it for yourself. Small clips of his craziness can be too easily dismissed as the background noise of our times. The condemnation of his critics, up to and including the current President, can sound shrill or simply partisan. The fact checks, while appalling, never stop the demagogue for whom the “bottomless Pinocchio” was invented.

Jonathan Last was at the same performance in Rome and wrote that “When insanity becomes the norm, it ceases to be insane. As a practical matter, it is impossible for a society to spend a decade listening to an unwell man say crazy, disassociated, garbled words for hours at a time, almost daily, and maintain the position that he is unhinged. At some point, society decides that the man they once regarded as unhinged, simply is. It’s like sitting in a room that stinks of sulfur. At first the smell is intolerable; but after a while you can’t even notice it if you try. This is more than human nature: It’s how our brains are wired to adapt to environmental conditions. That’s one of my big worries about the next eight months: That it will be biologically and psychologically impossible for a crucial percentage of voters to perceive what the Republican candidate for president actually is.”


Glasser’s solution to the Trump problem is for us to share his speeches widely. Chauncey DeVega interviewed psychologist John Gartner, the foremost expert on Trump’s brain, again. He wrote that Gartner and other “duty to warn” mental health professionals have been trying to warn the public that Trump “appears to be a sociopath if not a full-on psychopath... As seen in the last few weeks and months, Donald Trump’s dangerousness is rapidly escalating. At his rallies and other events, Donald Trump is exhibiting obvious and repeated examples of challenges in his speech, language, and memory… suffering from dementia or some other type of brain disease. Gartner summarizes this as: ‘Not enough people are sounding the alarm, that based on his behavior, and in my opinion, Donald Trump is dangerously demented. In fact, we are seeing the opposite among too many in the news media, the political leaders and among the public. There is also this focus on Biden's gaffes or other things that are well within the normal limits of aging. By comparison, Trump appears to be showing gross signs of dementia. This is a tale of two brains. Biden's brain is aging. Trump's brain is dementing.’… [H]undreds of verified mental health and other medical professionals have signed the petition” that states it as clearly as can be stated: “We diagnose Trump with probable dementia.”


Gartner: “Trump keeps proving my point. This week’s lowlights include more phonemic aphasias. Here are a few examples I have noted. ‘We have becrumb a nation.’ ‘All comp-ply-ments’ to Joe Biden. ‘I know Poten.’ ‘He can’t cam-pay.’ He can’t campaign. ‘We will expel the wald-mongers.’ We had more examples where Trump couldn’t complete a sentence and strung the fragments together incoherently. It’s worth noting that his demeanor changes dramatically at these moments. At one point, Trump was making nonsense sounds, struggling to form even a single word. At one of his events, he said ‘We’ll re-ve-du. Ohhhh..’ At that moment, Trump took a long-defeated sigh, and looked up at the ceiling blankly, looking confused and de-energized. Finally, Trump is sometimes reduced to simply vocalizing nonsense sounds that are not words at all like an infant. For example, at a recent rally Trump said ‘Gang, boom. This is me. I hear bing.’ Trump is literally babbling nonsensically and his followers at these rallies, or interviewers on right-wing media, are nodding their heads in appreciation like he makes sense. This is deeply disturbing… How much more evidence do we need before the mainstream media starts asking the question: Is Trump showing signs of dementia?... The press has flogged the non-story of Biden’s age to death. Yes, Biden’s old. So am I. He forgets names and dates. So do I, and so do most of the people in my age cohort. So what? To say we’re less able because of these blips is just plain ageism, pure and simple. News flash: We senior citizens have something you young whippersnappers don’t: the wisdom and judgment that comes from experience. Most societies revere their elders but we ridicule ours. Meanwhile, the press edits out the most disordered parts of Trump’s speeches or normalizes his behavior with innocuous euphemistic words, like ‘rambling’ The press is pathologizing the normal in the case of Biden and normalizing the pathological in the case of Trump. It’s perverse.”


Trump’s a classic case of dementia. He ticks all the boxes. He’s shown a precipitous decline from his baseline— He once had a rich vocabulary and spoke in polished paragraphs. And he shows the classic disturbances in memory, language, behavior, and motor performance that we see in dementia patients. If Trump were their patient or my family member, they would urgently refer him for an emergency neuropsychiatric evaluation. And under no circumstances would a patient showing this level or organic cognitive decline be capable of being president.
It is a national emergency. If Trump were to take back the White House, the American people would be living in what would be the equivalent of an insane asylum. The leader would be like a mad king, and everything would make no sense. The country would be ruled by the chaos emanating from President Donald Trump. Most people cannot imagine how bad it is going to be when Donald Trump has absolute power. The American people are going to have a collective nervous breakdown if Trump takes back power.
…Trump does not have a moral core. He has demonstrated that repeatedly through his decades of life. But now it appears that Trump is having problems with self-regulation. That is a horrible combination, one that results in chaotic random evil behavior. In the end, Trump's apparent inability to self-regulate is just an aggravating factor that magnifies all the other pathologies that we've seen thus far.

On Thursday, Miles Taylor, Trump's former Homeland Security department chief of staff, appeared on on MSNBC with Nicholle Wallace and told her that “The man that I interacted with years ago was very visibly unwell, was observably unstable, and he was the president of the United States then. I can only imagine what's happened to him since. We've witnessed it, we all see it as an American public. But I can't imagine how unstable he'll be behind that resolute desk again.”



9 Comments


One can think that Biden isn't up to the job while knowing that Trump is not remotely up to the job. At this point, I'm hoping that Biden's capacity is diminished. I'd hate to think that he's fully conscious of the fact that he's enabling the literal starvation of children, the destruction of hospitals, and the IDF's full Curtis LeMay approach to Gaza.


Let's not sugarcoat this--we have a choice between the merely bad and the truly horrible this year.

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Guest
Mar 17
Replying to

You seem to be saying that supporting the IDF bombing Gaza back to the stone age and killing women, kids and innocents at least by the thousands is "merely bad" as long as you don't openly pine to be fuhrer?

You also seem to be saying that we need to elect the guy who supports the IDF bombing Gaza back to the stone age and killing women, kids and innocents at least by the thousands who doesn't openly pine to be fuhrer? Is that really how low we've sunk?


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Guest
Mar 16

"As a practical matter, it is impossible for a society to spend a decade listening to an unwell man say crazy, disassociated, garbled words for hours at a time, almost daily, and maintain the position that he is unhinged."

This phenomena was observed by Shirer wrt Hitler. It is a peculiar trait of humans that they can take the insane and, after constant exposure, turn it into the de rigeur. Of course, a society that refuses to "treat" the cancer early are doomed to die from it.


Nazi evil, metasticised from nazi greed and hate, were never dealt with by the "sane" majorities. So now they are the norm.

Democrap party greed, corruption and cowardice were never dealt with by…


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Guest
Mar 16
Replying to

and the nazi media (goebbels) was key in normalizing all the antisemitic hate, racial nonsense and other lies about the world. Shirer noted that even he, an avowed objectivist, was not immune to the constant bombardment for years.


But, again, nobody and nothing stood up and shouted 'bullshit', which is also required to normalize such nonsense. A lesson our shithole failed to learn.

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The New York Times has been so complicit. Imagine if Biden were saying these things. Then it would be on the front page. The NYT has deteriorated. Sad. Dangerous for democracy. Ruining its longstanding reputation. Of course the NYT has done this before -such as with the Iraq war.

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Guest
Mar 16
Replying to

The whole point of "normalization" is that if Biden started saying these things, it would be very different, thus, noteworthy. Trump has been talking like this ever since his first appearance on the telly. His game show was years of this.

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