Years ago, I received a humorous email containing made-up answers to the classic question, “Why did the chicken cross the road?”
My favorite was attributed to FBI Agent Fox Mulder of the X-Files: “You saw the chicken cross the road with your own eyes! How many more chickens have to cross the road before you believe it?”
On that note. . .
This week CNN commentator Stephen Collinson published a description of Donald Trump’s behavior during a photo-op with the Prime Minister of Ireland. Of that performance, Collinson said, “A historian 100 years hence could pull the tape of the 16-minute tour de force and learn everything they needed to know about the Trump presidency.”
The article, which you can read in its entirety here, is a description of observed behavior and is complimentary about Trump’s “irrepressible energy of a force of nature personality, . . . refusal to accept a loss and . . . instinctive reflex to seek a new opening.”
But it also uses the following phrases to describe the current occupant of the White House:
- “Willingness to trample the truth for his own benefit”
- “A selfish streak for which friend[s] sometimes pay the price”
- “A shockingly casual way of talking about. . . violence”
- “Refusal to show weakness or humility”
- “Relentless temperament”
- “Indifference to shame”
- “Indifference or rude disregard for [others]”
- “Expert[ise] at trivializing and belittling opponents”
- “A sense that he is being persecuted unfairly”
There it is. “Everything you need to know about the Trump presidency.”
Collinson was not trying to make a case for Trump’s mental unfitness for office. He was simply describing the behaviors that he observed.
And yet, what he produced is a stunningly accurate list of the traits of a person with psychopathic or sociopathic personality disorder.
Go back and compare it to the actual list of traits associated with psychopathology. I’m not asking you to make a medical diagnosis. I’m just asking you to acknowledge that there’s a chicken crossing a road. You can do that. I have faith in you.
There is one trait on the list that Collinson did not mention but that Trump displays all the time – difficulty using abstract language. He is a phenomenally effective speaker when he’s riffing in front of his base. But when he attempts to speak on anything that requires knowledge and even a modest dab of gravitas, we get this:
That, ladies and gentlemen, is the most powerful person on earth.
And remember, that kind of speech isn’t just lazy or goofy. It’s a telltale sign of psychopathology.
There is a psychopath in the White House. You saw it with your own eyes. You see it every day. How many more chickens have to cross the road before you believe it?