Sunday, August 25, 2019


In the comments to my last post, there's been a lively debate on the subject of whether President Trump is suffering from neurological deficits or other problems that will ultimately remove him from the presidency. The Twitter feed of Tom Joseph has been offered in evidence. Joseph acknowledges on a separate site that he brings no professional knowledge to this discussion, but he's dealt with dementia in his own family:
My background is running technology & finance businesses in Chicago & Silicon Valley and technology/biotech investing. I’ve said a number of times on Twitter that I am not a physician. Additionally, I have said hundreds of times that Donald Trump should receive a neurological exam, workup and evaluation at a top facility like the Mayo Clinic or Johns Hopkins. In the absence of proper medical care, raising public awareness is necessary to expose what's obvious.

As for my background with Dementia:

-My mother and sister died from Huntington's Disease.
-My father died from Frontotemporal Dementia- PSP.

I've been:

-In the Legal Guardian role.
-The genetic risk informer to multiple family trees.
-Biotech investor in multiple arenas.
-Researcher in the dementia field for most of my life.
-Personally "at risk" to acquire Huntington's for decades- a 50% chance of inheriting it, until a genetic test cleared me.​
Does that mean he's right? Joseph retweeted this recently:

I don't find the pronunciation of "absurd" odd at all. As for the others -- yes, they're disturbing. But are there possible explanations other than dementia?

I've asked a couple of times on this blog whether Trump is on drugs. I wrote last November:
In May of this year, NBC News reported that a year earlier Trump aides raided the offices of the president's longtime personal physician, Harold Bornstein; they took all of Trump's medical records.

At the time, I questioned whether that was related to reports that Trump was prescribed mood-altering drugs for an alleged "metabolic imbalance" in the 1980s.

More recently, I've wondered why Trump took Senator Jon Tester's criticism of Dr. Ronny Jackson, the White House physician, so personally. Information unearthed by Tester and others revealed, among other things, that Jackson had quite freely distributed uppers and downers to top government officials, especially those traveling on long flights on Air Force One. The revelations compelled Jackson to withdraw from consideration for the post of secretary of veterans affairs.
Trump, we're told, doesn't drink and doesn't do drugs. You know who else was publicly anti-drug? Elvis. Prince. Michael Jackson. All of them were brought low by prescription medications.

Whatever's going on, Trump seems out of control these days. Joseph sees problems with Trump's walking as well as his speech and moods. (When I watch Trump walk, I see an old, overweight, inactive man who might have stiffness in his joints but still wants to convince us -- and himself -- that he's a 30-year-old stud.) I don't know what the truth is.

But if he has dementia, it's taking a while to fully manifest itself -- and it's extremely unlikely that he'll be escorted off the stage before November 2020 unless he's completely incoherent in a public setting between now and then, probably more than once. Short of that, his impairment (if that's what this is) will be covered up. If this is dementia, we should not assume it will come on quickly.

Charlie Pierce is also not a doctor, but he watched his father's decline from Alzheimer's and wrote a book on the subject. He reminded us a while back that we saw signs of Ronald Reagan's impairment as early as 1984:
I awoke this morning thinking of Ronald Reagan. This, I admit, is not something that happens very often. However, what I awoke thinking about was, specifically, the first debate in 1984 between Ronald Reagan and Walter Mondale. It took place in Louisville, Kentucky, and, believe me when I say this, the incumbent president of the United States stood on the stage exposed that night as a symptomatic Alzheimer's patient. This was not something I took lightly. The disease was in the process of swallowing my father at the time, as it eventually would his four other siblings. At that point, even at the rough beginning of my encounter with the disease, I knew it when I saw it, and I saw it that night. Had the moderator of that debate asked, "Mr. President, can you tell us what city you are in right now?", the odds were maybe no better than 2-1 that Reagan would have been able to come up with the answer. Years later, in the course of researching a book, after Reagan's Alzheimer's had become public knowledge, I had occasion to ask a prominent Alzheimer's researcher when he first thought Reagan had become symptomatic. "That first debate," the doctor told me, "It scared the hell out of me for his entire second term."
Ron Reagan, the former president's son, said in a 2011 book that he saw signs of dementia even earlier, in the third year of Reagan's first term. Lesley Stahl of CBS News wrote in 2000 that she saw signs midway through Reagan's second term, in 1986, during an Oval Office visit.

Yet Reagan's Alzheimer's diagnosis wasn't made until the fall of 1994. What some observers suspected wasn't confirmed for a decade.

If Trump seems increasingly impaired, yet is relatively coherent (by his standards) most of the time, the goal will be to get him across the finish line -- reelect him and deal with his problems later. I keep telling you that he's still good at the (awful) zingers he uses in his campaign rallies; Reagan could still deliver a speech effectively well into his second term, and even afterward.

What will happen if the president has one real meltdown -- not a few ill-considered pronouncements, but a public appearance in which he can't even manage to communicate? Here's a prediction: Word will circulate on the conservative Internet that the Deep State is poisoning him, slipping him toxins or prescription drugs to make him appear to be suffering from a neurological disorder. That will be extremely plausible to most of his base. And if he subsequently makes a public appearance in which he seems in command of himself, that will be all the confirmation his base will need.

They're not going to pull the plug on Trump. Anyone who tries will be a pariah on the right for life. Even if something's terribly wrong with his health -- which I don't think we should assume -- they're going to stick with him as long as possible.

No comments: