October 22, 2017

GLANZEL | Unfit for Office

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The world’s frustrations with Donald Trump seem to have largely focused on his constant insults and his overt racism and misogyny. These are, of course, perfectly legitimate and accurate criticisms. However, I am extremely concerned that these criticisms have become so constant and so overwhelming that they have overshadowed an even more pressing and problematic concern: the president’s competency and stability.

On its façade, questions of Trump’s intelligence may appear comical. His frequent spelling and grammatical errors, rambling statements, and inaccurate claims are enough to make one question the president’s intellectual capacity. But unfortunately for the country, these highly public instances of incompetence are only the tip of a very, very large iceberg.

First, Trump does not seem to have even the most basic grasp of policy issues. For example, when pressed on the nuclear triad — a phrase used to describe America’s capacity to launch nuclear weapons via intercontinental ballistic missiles, nuclear submarines, and bombers — during the 2016 primary campaign, Trump quite clearly had no idea what the debate moderator was talking about. This lack of understanding is perhaps the result of Trump’s unwillingness to ever pick up a book. When asked by a reporter in 2016 if he ever read books, Trump replied: “I never have.” Think about that for a moment: a president that does not read.

But perhaps the most troubling example of Trump’s incompetence is his inability to truly understand his mistakes. The presidency is a job that requires constant adjustment and self-reflection; and this is because there is one ultimate truth about the office: Presidents make mistakes — they always have, and they always will. Yet Trump seems to believe that he is immune from mistakes — that he is somehow above the failures that have burdened his predecessors. He has refused to analyze his faults for the failure of the Obamacare repeal, the chaos of Charlottesville and the absurdity of the administration’s ties to Russia.

In addition to the president’s incompetence, there is much to worry about regarding his mental stability. There have recently been a flurry of reports in which administration officials describe Trump as child who is teetering on the edge of insanity. A recent NBC report that quoted national security officials claims that Trump declared that the nation should increase its nuclear arsenal ten-fold. And Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) stated it best when he tweeted, “It’s a shame the White House has become an adult day care center.”

These reports are truly terrifying. The man who holds the power to destroy nations is, mentally, nothing more than an eight-year-old child; and this child wishes to drastically increase America’s nuclear arsenal. For any sane person, that should be cause for extreme concern.

The stresses of the presidency are enough to put great strain on even the most sane and competent leaders. Yet for a man who has quite clearly shown a lack of both competence and sanity, the president seems all but doomed to collapse under the immense pressure of the office. And with this in mind, I honestly believe that we need to start having a serious conversation about Trump’s fitness for office.

The most basic and important bar that an individual must meet to be considered fit for the office of the presidency is a high degree of rationality. In a world filled with irrational actors — from the crazed madmen of ISIS to the deranged North Korean government — it is imperative that our president remain a force of stability. Rationality, however, seems to be absent from the mind of Donald Trump. A rational person would not defend neo-Nazis, attack his own cabinet members, have personal feuds with nearly a third of senators from his own party, constantly berate women (i.e. Mika Brzezinski, Carly Fiorina, Megyn Kelly, etc.), or casually threaten to blow up the Korean peninsula on Twitter.

Because of this lack of rationality, there are beginning to be rumblings that the cabinet should invoke the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office. This procedure would involve a vote by which a majority of the cabinet declares Trump unfit for office, whereby the Vice President would assume the duties of the presidency. There are also rumblings that Congress should take steps to begin the impeachment process.

I contend that neither of those options would produce desirable results. Trump’s supporters would likely respond in a vicious backlash that could threaten to further divide and polarize the country. Instead of going this route, I argue that we should instead start to have a very open and honest conversation about this man’s fitness for the office. Only by delegitimizing Trump will the entire nation wake up to the reality of President’s inability to fully carry out the duties of his office.
Michael Glanzel is a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences. He can be reached at mglanzel@cornellsun.com. Cornell Shrugged appears alternate Mondays this semester.