Donald Trump is not mentally ill. He made a ton of money in a tough, competitive business. His instincts about the American electorate last year confounded the experts. I don’t even disagree with him on everything. And yet… his behavior is so erratic, so seemingly self-destructive, that it’s hard not to suspect the possibility of some sort of chemical influence on his brain.
I first began suspecting this back in June, when he tweeted an attack on his own Justice Department for its litigation strategy on the travel ban executive order. His statement made absolutely no rational sense, no matter what your views are. Even if you detest Muslims and would love to see them all banished forever, a tweet like this was nonsensical, because it could only hurt the anti-Muslim cause at a critical moment before the courts.
I’m not the only person who found this inexplicable. Republicans and Trump die-hards dropped their jaws as well—even Kellyanne Conway’s husband was aghast. Everyone knows that the reason Trump has been losing this legal battle in the courts of appeal has been because of his impolitic statements in the past—so now at the highest level, consulting no one, he hauled off and did it again.
On top of that, his complaint was not about Obama, Clinton, or some other adversary—it was about people who work for him, whom he can order what to do. So why didn’t he? Was he too shy? It was utterly stupefying—unless it was issued by someone not under complete control of his own actions. Someone, for example, under the influence of cocaine or amphetamines.
If you want to look for further evidence, it’s not hard to find. There’s the “covfefe” tweet he seems to have broken off in mid-typo, and never did get around to finishing. There’s the debate he loudly sniffed through, which the late Carrie Fisher immediately and emphatically attributed to cocaine use—something she admitted knowing lots about. Howard Dean, an MD, raised a similar point. Unsubstantiated rumors also surfaced during the campaign that Trump had taken amphetamines prescribed by a “celebrity doctor” in the 1990s, and was still doing so.
The erratic behavior accelerated recently. One night, Trump delivers a reasoned, calm explanation of the disaster in Afghanistan and what he plans to do about it. Many people (including me) do not agree with his chosen course, but his analysis (as read off the teleprompter) was unquestionably thoughtful. The very next night he delivers a rambling seventy-seven-minute rant in Phoenix about the “sick people” who are “trying to take away our history” that was, once again, as self-destructive and counterproductive as it was offensive. The former Director of National Intelligence called it “downright scary and disturbing,” and questioned Trump’s “fitness to be in this office.”
It’s one thing to disagree with what Trump says. But when he dramatically undermines his own agenda, e.g. by reaffirming the horrible mistake of his initial reaction to Charlottesville and by publicly ridiculing Republican senators whose votes he desperately needs, you have to question whether there’s something other than normal neural activity occurring under all that painted hair.
Then there’s the fact that instead of releasing a full medical report, as most presidential candidates (and presidents) do, Trump has only ever released a bizarre one page letter from a gastroenterologist stating that his “laboratory test results are astonishingly excellent.” Basically, we know nothing at all about our president’s health.
I have no personal experience with cocaine or amphetamines. But according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “Small amounts of cocaine usually make the user feel euphoric, energetic, talkative, mentally alert, and hypersensitive to sight, sound, and touch. The drug can also temporarily decrease the need for food and sleep.” Psychology Today says it “gives its user a false sense of limitless power and energy.” Misuse of amphetamines can produce “obsessive behavior” and “paranoia.” Both drugs would seem consistent with the wild swings in the president’s behavior, often manifested in late-night tweets.
Does any of this constitute “proof” of illegal drug use? Nonot even close. Does it raise enough of a suspicion to warrant drug testing of a person whose impulses could destroy us all in a heartbeat? I’d say yes, it does.
We already require random drug testing for lots of different people, from ball players to employees of federal contractors. Under Executive Order 12564, all federal employees involved in “law enforcement, national security, the protection of life and property, public health or safety, or other functions requiring a high degree of public trust” are also subject to mandatory drug testing. But not the guy in the position involving the highest degree of public trust of all, whose behavior has been so utterly bizarre.
The Trump administration is already on record in support of expanding mandatory drug testing, at least in the case of applicants for unemployment insurance. There are nowhere near the reasonable grounds for suspicion of drug use for most of these folks that there are for Trump himself. Last fall, Trump suggested that both he and Hillary Clinton should be drug-tested, simply because he said she looked tired by the end of the second debate. Maybe it’s time to take him up on that suggestion.
Democrats in Congress are talking more and more about impeachment, with one recent poll finding 43 percent of Americans in favor. I agree with David Axelrod that this is a bad idea, unless a much more obvious smoking gun comes to light. A third of Americans are rabid Trump supporters, and if they think he is being removed from office by insider chicanery the backlash could make Charlottesville look like a romp in the park. But if the president is found by neutral testing to be violating narcotics laws, putting us all at risk, that would seem to fit the constitutional impeachment standard of “high crimes and misdemeanors” in more ways than one.
There is no reason Congress couldn’t pass a law requiring such testing for the president, and perhaps for other senior office holders as well. Someone should start the ball rolling on this, in the hope that the Democrats in Congress plus the rapidly growing number of embarrassed Republicans can get together and pass it.