Questions of mental acuity are catching up with Trump. Politics

A candidate occasionally slurred his words, fell off a bike and tripped on stairs, tripped when he walked and once said hello to a former congresswoman at a White House event, who actually I was dead.

The other confused several times who the current president is, identified his former ambassador to the United Nations as the former speaker, said he was responsible for security at the Capitol, mispronounced simple words, used water to remove magnets. The Inquisitor went on tangents about being wasted or people coming up to him and asking him how he keeps his pants on, and he made incoherent comments like, "We're an institution in a powerful death row. "

It is the second candidate, former President Donald Trump, who has repeatedly — and, polling shows, effectively — described the first candidate, President Joe Biden, as drunk and suffering from cognitive decline. One ABC/Washington Post poll It found earlier this month that 47% of voters nationally think Trump has the mental acuity to serve effectively as president, while 28% trust Biden.

This is a source of frustration for Democrats and Biden supporters, who feel a double standard exists to evaluate each individual's mental fitness to become commander-in-chief. And this issue is entangled with many other questions: Is it appropriate to diagnose dementia comfortably? What is a reflection of stress or normal verbal missteps as opposed to cognitive decline? How prevalent is politics and shameless ageism? And do voters and the media have unfairly different standards for two individuals based on their public personas?

"There's a lot of political nonsense involved," says aging expert Steven Austad, chair of the biology department at the University of Alabama. He added, "Aging makes people different, but it affects them differently." "Some people Biden and Trump's age are in nursing homes. Others are running marathons and writing great works of scholarship."

Biden's verbal and physical handicaps have made him the target of allegations that he has dementia or, at the very least, has declined to take it seriously — a claim Austad and other experts have described as absurd at worst and completely unsupported at worst. Trump ran an ad in the 2020 campaign that showed selected clips of a young and then older Biden, making it appear that he had apparently lost the ability to speak or move.

"What happened to Joe Biden?" the ad asked.

Conservative media outlets have promoted the narrative. Before the first presidential debate that year, a Fox News anchor said, "I don't think there's any doubt that Biden is getting older." The New York Post greeted Biden's re-election campaign announcement last year with a doctored photo of the president peeking behind the curtain and the headline, "President Biden announces his re-election campaign, but Americans say . ..He's already lost it!” And Trump, 77, has also repeatedly said that 81-year-old "Sleepy Joe" Biden is too old and not mentally fit, in 2022 he alleged on his social media site that Biden has "late-stage dementia." ,

Meanwhile, Trump's missteps began to gain attention. He has made brazen factual errors, such as calling Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán the leader of Turkey, saying that Orbán had called for Barack Obama to leave the presidency (when Obama left the presidency in 2017), with sound effects. Describing a missile launch through, and this week, claiming that he won New Hampshire in the 2016 and 2020 general elections, while he lost it.

"If it were your Uncle Joe, you wouldn't be walking to the neurologist - you'd be running," says Baltimore psychologist John Gartner, a former professor at Johns Hopkins University and founder of "Duty to Warn," a group that advocates for medical professionals. There is a movement. Draw attention to Trump's cognitive health from Trump's first year in office.

"If you go to the emergency room in a psychotic state, the first question will be, 'Who is the President of the United States?' It's literally on psychiatric examination,” Gartner says, referring to Trump confusing Biden with Obama.

Gartner believes Trump – whose campaign did not respond to a request for comment – ​​has "advanced dementia" and says that "goldwater rule"Does not apply here. That standard, which says medical professionals should not diagnose the mental health of someone they have not examined, was adopted by the American Psychiatric Association after a magazine found that Whether 1964 GOP presidential nominee Barry Goldwater was mentally fit to be president.

Best cartoon on Donald Trump

Gartner says that standards for some mental disorders have changed since then and some conditions can be evaluated with extended observational behaviors.

Donald Jurevich, chair of geriatrics at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences, cautions against diagnosing someone with dementia without a medical examination.

Jurevich says he noticed a difference in former President Ronald Reagan's behavior after becoming president and suspected that Reagan had Alzheimer's disease. “This has proven true over time,” says Jurevich. But "dementia is based on loss of executive function, (and) there's no way you can see it in a TV sound bite or speech."

Jurievich says the behavior associated with dementia could be the result of everything from thyroid dysfunction to high stress — the latter for a man balancing a presidential campaign with court appearances for criminal and civil cases. There is a clear possibility. Or, for that matter, a man running the country and running for reelection.

Still, questions about the mental abilities of both Biden and Trump have been an issue in the campaign. And until recently, most of them have been directed at the sitting president.

For years, the Biden camp's hands were tied. How can they explore Trump's mental state without drawing attention to Biden's age — a factor that polls show is one of his greatest weaknesses?

Enter, this week, Nikki Haley, Trump's GOP primary foe, the target of his recent wrath, and the woman Trump appeared to confuse with former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi when Trump defected to security at the Capitol during the Jan. 6, 2021 Were giving. , Rebellion. Not coincidentally, Haley is 52 – and immune to suggestions she's too old for the job.

Haley, once cautious in her criticism of her party's presidential nominee, has recently called attention to several of Trump's misstatements and suggested he take a test to show he was willing to serve. Are fit.

"Even that day when he was walking around on January 6th, you know, we talked about (how) he was having a moment, he was confused. But it It's also why I've continued to push for a mental aptitude test for anyone over the age of 75, Haley said at a campaign event in South Carolina this week.

"And so, he got upset and said he'd take one and challenge me and he'd beat me. Maybe he'd do it, maybe he wouldn't. But what I said was, 'Okay, if that's the case, Then get on the debate stage and let's go," he continued. "Bring it on, Donald. Show me what you've got."

Democratic political strategist and Columbia University lecturer Basil Smickle says Haley is "the right messenger at the wrong time" on the issue. His youth and GOP membership make him a good person to challenge Trump in terms of his mental acuity, but he says, "It's too little, too late."

"Trump's age generally hasn't been an issue, part of the reason is the energy around him and the energy directed at him by his supporters. His rallies always seem loud and lively. So the age thing doesn't really reflect that." Is, as opposed to someone who is really focused on policy," Smickle says.

He added, "Biden isn't just old – he's old school," and his behavior is viewed through a different lens.

The same applies to Biden's supporters, says Melody Crowder-Meyer, an associate professor of political science at Davidson College who studies political behavior.

“The expectation of people who voted for Biden is that Biden will bring normalcy to governance,” she says. “They want someone who is stable.”

Meanwhile, "A lot of the support for Trump is based on identity and sentiment. You're not looking for him to be competent, you're looking for him to fulfill his identity," says Crowder-Meyer.

The Biden-Kamala Harris campaign, enabled by Haley's line of attack against Trump, went after Trump's cognitive health in an ad for the first time this week. However, the spot is almost all Trump, a highlight of his inaccurate statements, with Haley questioning Trump's mental fitness. Biden appears only at the end with his photo and voice-over saying, "I'm Joe Biden and I approved this message."

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