The fundamental – and dispositive – objections to Trump are political, legal, ethical, and moral. Collectively, those objections are overwhelming. There are, however, practical concerns, also: he’s apparently, evidently deficient, as psychologist John Gartner writes:
In Alzheimer’s, as language skills deteriorate, we see two types of tell-tale speech disorders, or paraphasias:
Semantic paraphasia involves choosing the incorrect words. For instance, after Attorney General William Barr released a letter on the Mueller report, Trump said: “I hope they now go and take a look at the oranges, the oranges of that investigation, the beginnings of that investigation.”
Phonemic paraphasia, which is linked to the moderate to severe stages of Alzheimer’s, is described as “the substitution of a word with a nonword that preserves at least half of the segments and/or number of syllables of the intended word.” For example, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu becomes “Betanyahu,” big league becomes “bigly,” anonymous becomes “enenamas” or “anenomynous,” renovation becomes “renoversh,” missiles become “mishiz,” space capsule becomes “capsicle,” midterm elections become “midtowm” and “midturn” elections, and Christmas becomes “Chrissus.”
Trump’s speech patterns appear even more disordered when you go beyond the sound bite and look at a whole speech. He careens from one thought to the next in a parade of non sequiturs, frequently interrupting himself in the middle of a sentence to veer into another free association. When commentators described his two-hour speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference last month as “unhinged,” they were referring in large part to this quality.
At its extreme, this is called tangential speech. As psychologist Ben Michaelis told Stat, doctors evaluating for Alzheimer’s listen for tangential remarks and non sequiturs and whether the patient can stay on topic.
You had to listen to Trump’s whole CPAC speech to realize just how tangential it was. “Those who learned about the speech from glancing at mainstream news headlines the next morning would have no idea how flat-out bonkers the whole thing was … even by Trumpian standards,” Amanda Marcotte wrote in Salon. The Washington Post’s Eugene Robinson said Trump “gave a rambling and incoherent two-hour speech in which he raved like a lunatic.”
There are – without question – many people far older than Trump is who are highly competent. Their abilities in no way compensate for his inability.
One ends as one begins: Trump is objectionable on political, legal, ethical, and moral grounds. That he’s cognitively deficient forms a separate, independent basis of disqualification from office.