Esquire magazine political columnist Charles P. Pierce said that President Donald Trump’s rambling, repetitive, self-contradicting interview with the New York Times is more than a portrait of an eager authoritarian frustrated by the restrictions placed on his power.
Pierce said the truth is actually even more alarming.
“In my view, the interview is a clinical study of a man in severe cognitive decline, if not the early stages of outright dementia,” he wrote.
Pierce explained that his father and all of his father’s siblings have succumbed to Alzheimer’s Disease over the last 30 years. The president’s speech patterns and his stubborn clinging to a few simple ideas remind Pierce of the same decline he saw in members of his family.
“In this interview, the president is only intermittently coherent. He talks in semi-sentences and is always groping for something that sounds familiar, even if it makes no sense whatsoever and even if it blatantly contradicts something he said two minutes earlier,” wrote Pierce.
“To my ears, anyway, this is more than the president’s well-known allergy to the truth. This is a classic coping mechanism employed when language skills are coming apart,” he explained, which is why Trump repetitively uses the same pairing of adjectives and nouns, as in “the failing New York Times” and “Crooked Hillary.”
“In addition, the president exhibits the kind of stubbornness you see in patients when you try to relieve them of their car keys—or, as one social worker in rural North Carolina told me, their shotguns,” Pierce said.
Trump’s reflexive anger when he is contradicted or feels threatened, Pierce said, is a sign of a brain struggling to impose order and familiar ideas on a world that he increasingly does not comprehend.
“For example, a discussion on healthcare goes completely off the rails when the president suddenly recalls that there is a widely held opinion that he knows very little about the issues confronting the nation,” Pierce said.
“But Michael, I know the details of taxes better than anybody. Better than the greatest C.P.A.,” said Trump to the Times‘ Michael Schmidt. “I know the details of health care better than most, better than most. And if I didn’t, I couldn’t have talked all these people into doing ultimately only to be rejected.”
“This is more than simple grandiosity. This is someone fighting something happening to him that he is losing the capacity to understand,” said Pierce.