A half-century after Republican presidential candidate Barry Goldwater was slimed by psychiatrists as dangerous and unstable, now national security reporters for the New York Times are pitching in. It’s once again acceptable to “worry” that Republican presidential candidates loopy on drugs may have dangerous access to nuclear authority.
Reporters David Sanger and William Broad stirred in some Cold War nuclear paranoia into their amateur diagnosis of “erratic” President Trump, after his evidently successful recovery from Covid-19 while taking the steroid dexamethasone: “Trump’s Health Revives Questions About Unchecked Nuclear Authority”:
President Trump’s long rants and seemingly erratic behavior last week — which some doctors believe might have been fueled by his use of dexamethasone, a steroid, to treat Covid-19 — renewed a long-simmering debate among national security experts about whether it is time to retire one of the early inventions of the Cold War: the unchecked authority of the president to launch nuclear weapons.
Mr. Trump has publicly threatened the use of those weapons only once in his presidency, during his first collision with North Korea in 2017. But it was his decision not to invoke the 25th Amendment and turn control over to Vice President Mike Pence last week that has prompted concern inside and outside the government.
So, if we have this straight, The Times must then think Joe Biden represents a steady, confidence-inspiring hand (who apparently thinks he’s running for Senate again).
It sure seems as though the answer to that question would be a yes (click “expand”):
Mr. Trump’s critics have long questioned whether his unpredictable statements and contradictions pose a nuclear danger. But the concerns raised last week were somewhat different: whether a president taking mood-altering drugs could determine whether a nuclear alert was a false alarm.
Last week in telephone interviews with Fox News and Fox Business Network, Mr. Trump said he was no longer taking experimental medications but was still on dexamethasone, which doctors say can produce euphoria, bursts of energy and even a sense of invulnerability. On Friday, he told Fox News he was off the drug, which he appears to have taken for less than a week.
But during that week, his prolific Twitter activity and rambling interviews led many to question whether the drugs had accentuated his erratic tendencies. His doctors’ refusal to describe with any specificity his condition or treatment only played up the concern.
Sanger and Broad threw in a shred of historical context (JFK “took powerful pain medications”) before flipping back to their amateur diagnosis of the sitting president: “But no one understands exactly how the drugs given to Mr. Trump interact. And according to scientists, the most common mood enhancements associated with dexamethasone are mania and hypomania, a euphoric state. The hallmarks of hypomania include inflated self-esteem, increased talkativeness, decreased need for sleep, racing thoughts, distractibility and absence of restraint to engage in activities that could invite personal harm.”
MSNBC host Joe Scarborough last week was also concern-trolling over a president hopped up on dexamethasone. As documented by NewsBusters’s Mark Finkelstein, Scarborough asked a reporter if Republicans were “concerned about a president acting irrationally with the nuclear codes?”
Bless their hearts.
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