Donald Trump has dumbfounded his critics. Convinced of his eventual implosion, pundits and many journalists almost excitedly pointed to every perceived misstep as the beginning of the end of his unorthodox presidential bid. After Trump had clinched the Republican nomination for president, many were still very much disinclined to take him seriously. When he bested Hillary Clinton, the mocking of Trump came to an abrupt end, however. Suddenly, much of the media seemingly portrayed the entirety of the 2016 election cycle as a Greek tragedy. Indeed, following Trump’s victory, members of the media on the left and right joined Clinton in a particularly mournful kommos: The battle for America’s soul had begun. For Trump, it was simply time to restore the glory of the United States.
After nearly a year in office, opposition to Donald Trump has remained fierce. Any hope of the new year doubling as a tabula rasa upon which the president’s critics could project their aspirations and goals instead of their frustration and anger was definitively dashed by Dr. Bandy Lee and Michael Wolff.
According to a Politico report, legislators were worried about Trump’s mental health, so they invited Dr. Bandy Lee, who is a psychiatry professor at Yale University, to Washington for two days in early December. During this time, Lee briefed them on his recent conduct. She even offered a dire warning: “He’s going to unravel, and we are seeing the signs.”
Her opinion and remarks have dominated the headlines over the past few days. Moreover, the president’s fiercest detractors have pounced on this to jump-start a discussion regarding Section 4 of the 25th Amendment, which would allow the vice president and the majority of the president’s cabinet to remove him in the event that he is “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.”
Some, however, have criticized Dr. Lee for proffering her professional opinion without having conducted an in-person evaluation of Donald Trump. She has even been accused of violating the Goldwater Rule, which prohibits psychiatrists from making such a diagnosis. In response, Lee has tried to defend her actions.
For anyone who may doubt that we did not keep with the Goldwater rule: https://t.co/UcVoM21wGh
— Bandy Lee (@BandyXLee) December 24, 2017
Still, not everyone is convinced that her actions are beneficial. Politico reported the misgivings of former Harvard Law School professor Alan Dershowitz.
Dershowitz declared, “The 25th Amendment would require, for mental incapacity, a major psychotic break. This is hope over reality. If we don’t like someone’s politics we rail against him, we campaign against him, we don’t use the psychiatric system against him. That’s just dangerous.”
Nonetheless, adding fuel to the claims of Trump’s instability, journalist Michael Wolff, who was embedded in the White House last year, has written a book, Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House. Replete with sensational allegations that paint the president as a capricious child, unfit for office, Wolff’s book prompted a swift response from the White House. President Trump’s lawyer, Charles Harder, sent a cease-and-desist letter to Henry Holt that also called for an apology to the president last Thursday. In an ostensible game of chicken, the release date for the book was then moved from this week to last Friday, January 5th.
While this book initially appeared damning for Trump, criticism of it has come from unexpected quarters, Wolff’s fellow journalists. Per the Washington Examiner, Maggie Haberman, the White House correspondent for the New York Times, inveighed against Wolff’s carelessness in his fact-checking.
Using Haberman’s opprobrium and that of others, the Republican National Committee attacked Wolff’s further credibility on Twitter.
The reviews are in… pic.twitter.com/UNdkNbBEFF
— GOP (@GOP) January 5, 2018
The one-two punch of Dr. Lee and Mr. Wolff would have crippled other politicians, but with Trump, it has only added to his almost mythic narrative of a lone man that has taken on the political establishment and its accomplice, the media. To be sure, the president’s case is helped by the questions that surround the professional integrity of Lee and Wolff. Nevertheless, Trump’s best defense against his critics is perhaps ironically his bold unpredictability, which continues to befuddle many.