In a series of Twitter posts that were extraordinary even by the standards of his norm-shattering presidency, Mr. Trump insisted that his opponents and the news media were attacking his capacity because they had failed to prove his campaign conspired with Russia during the 2016 presidential campaign
.. “Now that Russian collusion, after one year of intense study, has proven to be a total hoax on the American public, the Democrats and their lapdogs, the Fake News Mainstream Media, are taking out the old Ronald Reagan playbook and screaming mental stability and intelligence,” he wrote on Twitter even as a special counsel continues to investigate the Russia matter.
“Actually, throughout my life, my two greatest assets have been mental stability and being, like, really smart,” he added. He said he was a “VERY successful businessman” and television star who won the presidency on his first try. “I think that would qualify as not smart, but genius….and a very stable genius at that!”
.. After the president boasted that his “nuclear button” was bigger than Kim Jong-un’s in North Korea, Richard W. Painter, a former adviser to President George W. Bush, described the claim as proof that Mr. Trump is “psychologically unfit” and should have his powers transferred to Vice President Mike Pence under the Constitution’s 25th Amendment.
.. Mr. Trump’s self-absorption, impulsiveness, lack of empathy, obsessive focus on slights, tenuous grasp of facts and penchant for sometimes far-fetched conspiracy theories
.. Few questions irritate White House aides more than inquiries about the president’s mental well-being, and they argue that Mr. Trump’s opponents are trying to use those questions to achieve what they could not at the ballot box.
.. Thomas J. Barrack, a friend of Mr. Trump’s, was quoted in Michael Wolff’s new book, “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House,” as telling a friend that the president was “not only crazy but stupid.” In interviews, Mr. Barrack denied that and insisted that many people miss Mr. Trump’s actual brilliance.
.. Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, has said Mr. Trump is “crazy but he’s a genius.”
.. Dr. Frances, author of “Twilight of American Sanity: A Psychiatrist Analyzes the Age of Trump,” said the president’s bad behavior should not be blamed on mental illness. “He is definitely unstable,” Dr. Frances said. “He is definitely impulsive. He is world-class narcissistic not just for our day but for the ages. You can’t say enough about how incompetent and unqualified he is to be leader of the free world. But that does not make him mentally ill.”.. Lyndon B. Johnson were so troubled that they sought out three psychiatrists, who concluded that his behavior could indicate paranoid disintegration... Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, then a rival for the nomination, called him a “delusional narcissist.”
Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, another Republican candidate, said: “I think he’s a kook. I think he’s crazy. I think he’s unfit for office.”
.. But fewer Republicans are willing to say that now that Mr. Trump is in office
.. For his part, Mr. Trump has accused his critics of being mentally impaired. He regularly describes adversaries with words like “crazy,” “psycho” and “nut job.”
.. He said his concern was as much about cognitive issues, citing the president’s occasional slurred speech and inability to form complete sentences.
How he responded to business setbacks could predict what he’ll do if he isn’t the next president.
When Donald Trump loses, he lashes out, assigns blame and does whatever it takes to make a defeat look like a win. When that isn’t plausible, he pronounces the system rigged — victory wasn’t possible because someone put in the fix.
.. He has reacted to failure by exploding in anger and recrimination, then moving on to very different ventures, though always in arenas where he can vie for public admiration.
.. Psychologists who study how sports fans shield themselves from the pain of their favorite team’s defeats use the term “CORFing” — “cutting off reflected failure” — to describe a defense mechanism by which fans separate themselves from loss by reframing their relationship to the team. “We lost” becomes “they lost.”
.. even as he has contended that he will win — Trump has repeatedly said that a loss would be the fault of leaders of his party, the news media, pollsters, career politicians and federal investigators. At his final debate with Hillary Clinton, Trump refused to say he would accept the result of the election as legitimate. For more than a week after that, he added almost daily to the list of institutions he said were rigged against him: special interests, Clinton donors, big media companies, “global financial powers.”
.. Losing politicians rarely distance themselves from defeat this way. Traditionally, if they want to maintain their credibility so they can try again in another election, they eat crow, accept the wisdom of the voters and show a modicum of grace toward their victorious opponents. Trump’s approach is one psychologists say they see more often in sports, where defeated athletes sometimes immediately guarantee that they will demolish whomever just beat them, or in business, where executives with an unusually inflated sense of self-worth tend to blame failures on others... How does a man whose image is based on being the ultimate winner cope with losing? His behavior in defeat has stayed remarkably consistent throughout his career: Either he didn’t really lose, or it was someone else’s fault. In other words, he acts like it didn’t happen... Trump is not given to deep analysis of his motives or behavior. But in a series of interviews this year, he did say, with some pride, that he hasn’t changed much since early childhood, when his father, a real estate developer, drilled into his son the directive that he needed to be “a killer,” that there was little in life worse than being “a nothing” and that, whatever he took on, Donald had to be sure to win. Trump’s classmates, neighbors, teachers and friends from New York in the 1950s are united in their recollections of a kid who had a powerful aversion to defeat — and a tendency to blast others when he lost.
.. asked whether he feared the idea of losing and finding that no one was paying attention to him anymore,Trump told The Washington Post that failure represents a loss of control: “I’m not afraid of it, but I hate the concept of it. . . . I hate the fact that it’s a total unknown. . . . If there is a fear at all, it is a fear of the unknown.”.. Sometimes, he argues that he lost because he wasn’t really trying to win. In the most recent phase of his career before politics, Trump attached his name to products ranging fromsteaks and bottled water to mortgages and a university. When some of those ventures went under, Trump said he had only lent them his name and bore no responsibility for any mismanagement. “The mortgage business is not a business I particularly liked or wanted to be part of in a very big way,” he said after Trump Mortgage closed in 2007, leaving some bills unpaid.
.. Trump’s tendency to act against those he blames for his failures is often motivated not so much by the promise of recovering money as by the desire for revenge.
.. And when there is no one to blame for a defeat but himself, Trump has a history of arguing that victory was impossible because the playing field was not level. In high school, when his study partner got a better grade on a chemistry test, Trump questioned whether his classmate had cheated. Later in life, when his reality TV show lost out on an Emmy in 2013, Trump tweeted that “I should have many Emmys for The Apprentice if the process were fair.”
.. But Trump would never concede such a thing. It says so right on his family coat of arms. In 2008, when he was planning his golf course and club near Aberdeen, Scotland, Trump unveiled a family symbol featuring a lion, a knight’s helmet and a Latin phrase, “Numquam Concedere.” Translation: “Never concede.”
The American fabric of peaceful-transfer-of-power is taken for granted in the U.S. and elsewhere but is more fragile than it seems. As I noted back ininstallment #139, nearly every presidential inaugural address through U.S. history has emphasized how unusual and crucial this civic ritual is. For an example you might not have been expecting, I give you Richard Nixon, in the opening of his first inaugural address in 1969:
My fellow Americans, and my fellow citizens of the world community:
I ask you to share with me today the majesty of this moment. In the orderly transfer of power, we celebrate the unity that keeps us free
.. Gore had every reason imaginable to challenge Bush v. Gore and the whole circumstances of the election. He was half a million votes ahead in the nationwide popular vote, and for more than a century the popular-vote winner had become president. The Florida secretary of state, who was in charge of the recount, was co-chairman of the Bush campaign in Florida. The governor of the state, Jeb Bush, was his opponent’s brother! The reasoning of the Supreme Court’s ruling was so nakedly results-oriented that the Court itself said that it should not be taken as a precedent in any future rulings.
Now the U.S. Supreme Court has spoken. Let there be no doubt, while I strongly disagree with the court’s decision, I accept it. I accept the finality of this outcome, which will be ratified next Monday in the Electoral College. And tonight, for the sake of our unity as a people and the strength of our democracy, I offer my concession.
I also accept my responsibility, which I will discharge unconditionally, to honor the new president-elect and do everything possible to help him bring Americans together in fulfillment of the great vision that our Declaration of Independence defines and that our Constitution affirms and defends.
.. The logic of “birtherism,” with Donald Trump as its most prominent exponent, was that Barack Obama had an illegitimate claim on office.
.. A textbook example is provided by President George Bush Sr., whose concession speech included the following statement: “Here’s the way we see it and the country should see it—that the people have spoken and we respect the majesty of the democratic system. I just called Gov. Clinton over in Little Rock and offered my congratulations. He did run a strong campaign.”
In making this statement, President Bush signaled that the election was over and he lost fair and square.
Bernie Sanders isn’t losing. Just ask many of his backers or listen to some of his own complaints. He’s being robbed, a victim of antiquated rules, voter suppression, shady arithmetic and a corrupt Democratic establishment.
.. Donald Trump isn’t winning. Just ask Ted Cruz, by whose strange and self-serving logic it is “the will of the people” (his actual words) that he and John Kasich collude to prevent Trump from amassing a majority of delegates ..
.. Elections don’t settle disputes, not even for some fleeting honeymoon. They accelerate them, because there’s a pernicious insistence that they’re not referendums on the public mood but elaborate board games in which the triumphant player used the wickedest skulduggery.
When you honestly believe or disingenuously assert that you’ve been outmaneuvered rather than outvoted, why declare a truce, let alone cooperate, in the aftermath?
.. But all of the candidates knew about that patchwork going in, and Clinton’s successful navigation of it — she has a multi-million-vote lead over Sanders — is more persuasive than any dark claims of dastardly tricks.