Editor’s Note: Dean Obeidallah, a former attorney, is the host of SiriusXM radio’s daily program “The Dean Obeidallah Show” and a columnist for The Daily Beast. Follow him @deanofcomedy. The opinions expressed in this commentary are his.
Donald Trump is clearly agitated by accusations that he’s mentally unfit to be President. In a series of Saturday morning tweets, he wrote he was, “like, very smart,” a “VERY successful businessman,” a “top T.V. Star” and that he won the presidency, “on my first try.” He concluded that he is also “a very stable genius.”
If Trump wants to stop people from questioning his competency, those tweets aren’t going to do it. In fact, they actually generated even more concern on and off social media.
But there’s a very easy way for Trump to end the debate about his mental status. Trump is scheduled for his annual physical examination this Friday, January 12, at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. During that examination, the military doctors should also evaluate Trump’s mental fitness.
Past presidential physicals have not focused on a president’s mental state. However, Trump should not only welcome such an exam but demand one. Assuming the doctors find no credible medical evidence that Trump is mentally unstable, that should end the discussion about Trump’s mental status – at least by those who are sincerely motivated by our nation’s well-being. (The results of the mental examination should be revealed to the public just as the results of past presidential physical exams have been released.)
But if Trump refuses to voluntarily submit to a mental assessment by the military doctors, it’s my hope that even Trump supporters would urge him to reconsider. Part of the problem with having an honest discussion on this issue is that some Trump critics – irresponsibly in my view – claimed many months ago that Trump was mentally unstable. So it’s understandable that Trump supporters are now instinctively viewing the increased allegations about Trump’s mental fitness as nothing more than politics as usual.
And there’s no denying that an increasing number of mental health professionals are raising alarm bells about Trump’s mental state. For example, this week we saw Trump respond to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s statement that he had a nuclear button his desk with the tweet, “I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!”
In response, the National Coalition of Concerned Mental Health Experts released a statement signed by over one hundred mental health professionals that read, in part: “We write as mental health professionals who have been deeply concerned about Donald Trump’s psychological aberrations.” They continued, “We urge that those around him, and our elected representatives in general, take urgent steps to restrain his behavior and head off the potential nuclear catastrophe that endangers not only Korea and the United States but all of humankind.”
This week, CNN reported that Yale psychiatrist Dr. Brandy Lee had testified before House and Senate lawmakers in December on the President’s mental health. She argued then that while she could not diagnose the President directly, “he is becoming very unstable very quickly. There is a need for neuropsychiatric evaluation that would demonstrate his capacity to serve.”
Even Pulitzer Prize winning journalist David Cay Johnston, who has known Trump for years, discussed tax issues and dined with him, explained on my SiriusXM radio show Friday that he sees “a clear deterioration” in Trump’s cognitive abilities.
And then there’s the issue of Trump’s family medical history. According to an interview Trump gave to the New York Times, Trump’s late father Fred Trump suffered from Alzheimer’s. Then-candidate Trump said he wasn’t scared of inheriting the disease – he was a “fatalist,” who accepted that might well be his future.
The mental health of the President of the United States – for the good of our nation – must transcend politics. And there are no better doctors to evaluate the President than the military’s doctors at Walter Reed.
If these doctors find that Trump is suffering from a mental condition that renders him “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office,” that could trigger the procedures set forth in the 25th Amendment of the Constitution to determine if he should be removed from office or not.
But if they don’t find any such evidence, it’s time we stop alleging that Trump is mentally unstable. And that, too, is for the good of our nation.