Presidential derangement syndrome takes new turn with Trump

Jonathan Tobin explains at National Review Online the latest developments among those who treat the election of a new president as an excuse to engage in delusional thinking.

In the 1990s, a serious malady appeared on the American public square in which citizens were driven over the edge by their antipathy for incumbent presidents. It came to be known as the “presidential-derangement syndrome” and over the course of the Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama administrations its victims grew in number. But while it was a given that whoever won last November’s election would have one named after them, we really had no idea what we were in for once Donald Trump moved into the White House. As we’ve seen this past week, presidential paranoia has not only gone mainstream in terms of the public, it’s now found a home in the mainstream media. …

… That there is no more “proof” of a coming Trump coup than there was for past derangement-syndrome theories is immaterial. What matters is that growing numbers of liberals are operating under the assumption that Trump isn’t merely an inappropriate figure or wrong on the issues; they think he is really plotting to destroy democracy.

One would hope that mainstream, liberal publications would, as serious conservative journalists did during the Obama presidency, act as a check on this sort of foolishness. But the fever pitch of angst about every one of Trump’s appointees and the over-the-top denunciations of his immigration orders in mainstream publications like the New York Times and on cable-news networks have only served to reinforce the tendency to view the debate through a conspiratorial mindset.

But on Thursday the Washington Post went a step further. In his discussion of the controversy over Judge Neal Gorsuch’s reported comments about Trump’s criticism of judges, Chris Cillizza used “The Fix” column to probe the question of whether the entire kerfuffle — what Gorsuch said and the reaction from both the president and Kellyanne Conway — was a charade.

Mitch Kokai / Senior Political Analyst

Mitch Kokai is senior political analyst for the John Locke Foundation. He joined JLF in December 2005 as director of communications. That followed more than four years as chie...

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