The pointed inquiries about Trump's mental health were precipitated by a forthcoming book on the tumultuous first year of the comings and goings in his White House by Michael Wolff, who himself has taken certain "creative liberties" before. Excerpts released over the past few days detail, among many other things, the "increasing pace" of the president's "repetitions" since taking office. One passage, published in The Hollywood Reporter, portrays a president seen by his inner circle as "like a child," except one whose capacity is getting worse, not better.
It used to be inside of 30 minutes he'd repeat, word-for-word and expression-for-expression, the same three stories—now it was within 10 minutes. Indeed, many of his tweets were the product of his repetitions—he just couldn't stop saying something.
White House communications director Hope Hicks, "attentive to his lapses," writes Wolff, steered the president away from a planned 60 Minutes interview last fall to a friendlier one with Fox News talking head and dependable Trump sycophant Sean Hannity. Another excerpt, this one appearing in New York magazine, describes the president as a "semi-literate" person who neither reads nor "process[es] information in any conventional sense."
Priebus had his own reservations [about taking the job as White House Chief of Staff]: He had come out of his first long meeting with Trump thinking it had been a disconcertingly weird experience. Trump talked nonstop and constantly repeated himself.
“Here’s the deal,” a close Trump associate told Priebus. “In an hour meeting with him, you’re going to hear 54 minutes of stories, and they’re going to be the same stories over and over again. So you have to have one point to make, and you pepper it in whenever you can.”
His vocabulary has also become simpler over time.
This is Mr. Trump from 30 years ago.
Trump fluently peppered his answers with words and phrases such as “subsided,” “inclination,” “discredited,” “sparring session,” and “a certain innate intelligence.” He tossed off well-turned sentences such as, “It could have been a contentious route,” and, “These are the only casinos in the United States that are so rated.” He even offered thoughtful, articulate aphorisms: “If you get into what’s missing, you don’t appreciate what you have,” and, “Adversity is a very funny thing.”
This is Mr. Trump from today
Other sentences are missing words. Again, from the AP: “If they don’t treat fairly, I am terminating NAFTA,” and, “I don’t support or unsupport” — leaving out a “me” in the first and an “it” (or more specific noun) in the second. Other sentences simply don’t track: “From the time I took office til now, you know, it’s a very exact thing. It’s not like generalities.”
However, keep in mind...
Although neither Johnson nor other experts STAT consulted said the apparent loss of linguistic fluency was unambiguous evidence of mental decline, most thought something was going on.
Johnson cautioned that language can deteriorate for other reasons. “His language difficulties could be due to the immense pressure he’s under, or to annoyance that things aren’t going right and that there are all these scandals,” he said. “It could also be due to a neurodegenerative disease or the normal cognitive decline that comes with aging.” Trump will be 71 next month.
On the other hand...
Researchers have used neurolinguistics analysis of past presidents to detect, retrospectively, early Alzheimer’s disease. In a famous 2015 study, scientists at Arizona State University evaluated how Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush spoke at their news conferences. Reagan’s speech was riddled with indefinite nouns (something, anything), “low imageability” verbs (have, go, get), incomplete sentences, limited vocabulary, simple grammar, and fillers (well, basically, um, ah, so) — all characteristic of cognitive problems. That suggested Reagan’s brain was slipping just a few years into his 1981-1989 tenure; that decline continued. He was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 1994. Bush showed no linguistic deterioration; he remained mentally sharp throughout his 1989-1993 tenure and beyond.
This combined with his tendency to wander off and his low impulse control worry me. Pence would be a worse prospect politically but he's not likely to be of (un)sound mind. (Kinda have to still be smart to suck up as well and as creatively has he has).
They may just do the Reagan thing anyway. Hide problems until they can't be hidden any more.