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Democrats Question Trump's Fitness for Office

by Countable | 7.7.17

President Donald Trump’s late night tweets, war of words with the media, and unpredictable behavior have caused some medical professionals and lawmakers to question whether he has the fitness to serve as commander-in-chief. Congressman Jamie Raskin (D-MD) has introduced legislation to examine the president’s physical and mental fitness, but psychologists remain reluctant to weigh in because of the perils of the Goldwater Rule.

What is the Goldwater Rule?

During the 1964 presidential election between President Lyndon Johnson (D) and Sen. Barry Goldwater (R-AZ), Fact Magazine published an article featuring a survey asking psychiatrists their opinion of Goldwater’s psychological fitness to be president. Of the 12,356 psychiatrists they asked, 2,417 responded and 1,189 said Goldwater was unfit to be president.

If you’re wondering how many of those psychiatrists personally examined Goldwater, the answer is zero. After losing the election in a landslide — Goldwater only won six states — he filed a libel lawsuit against Fact Magazine. In 1969 the U.S. Supreme Court in Goldwater v. Ginzburg* *sided with Goldwater and awarded him punitive damages that put the magazine out of business.

In the response to the Court’s decision, the American Psychiatric Association added a section to its principles of medical ethics in 1973, informally known as the "Goldwater Rule." It states that it is unethical for psychiatrists to give a professional opinion about public figures they have not personally examined and from whom they haven’t received consent to publicly discuss the figure’s mental health. Violating the rule could lead to members being kicked out of the APA, but it wouldn’t affect their medical license.

To this day, the APA says that "breaking the Goldwater Rule is irresponsible, potentially stigmatizing, and definitely unethical."

"Sign of a serious mental disturbance"

Congressman Raskin’s bill, named The Oversight Commission on Presidential Capacity Act, calls for the creation of an 11 member commission to examine the president’s physical and mental capacity to carry out the duties of the office.

According to his proposed bill, bipartisan congressional leaders would select four physicians, four psychiatrists, and three political figures (such as former presidents, vice presidents, and Cabinet officials) who would be responsible for examining the president and making a determination about his or her capacity. If it is found that the president cannot carry out their duties, the vice president would be able to sign off on the commission’s findings and invoke the 25th Amendment to step into the president’s role.

In explaining his rationale for the bill, Raskin pointed to comments made by Trump as a sign of instability:

"This is a president who has insisted that Ted Cruz’s father was involved in the assassination of John F. Kennedy and that Barack Obama was born in Indonesia, and he has uttered blatant lies and never retracted them. And that is a sign of a serious mental disturbance."

Raskin’s colleague in the Maryland congressional delegation, Republican Andy Harris, described the bill to The Washington Post as "an insult to the entire medical profession" and “a thinly veiled attempt by Democrats to undermine a legislative agenda they disagree with.” For its part, the White House declined to “dignify this with an official response.”

Read more about Rep. Raskin’s bill and tell your reps what you think of it by following the link below:

— Eric Revell

(Photo Credit: @Katlinpegram via Twitter / Creative Commons)

Countable

Written by Countable

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(727)
  • Michael
    07/07/2017
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    Trump is definitely not fit for office. His nonstop attack on the media shows that he is completely self-absorbed and incapable of placing the good of Americans above himself. And his ridiculous tweets show that he can't think beyond 140 characters. Please take action to remove or contain him before he does irreparable harm to our country.

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  • Lori
    07/07/2017
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    I question his fitness for office on a daily basis. Trump is a national embarrassment and has absolutely no business controlling the nuclear codes. Please, congress, wake up and step up to save our country from this walking talking disaster!

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  • Mel
    07/07/2017
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    If a physical examination is already required, why shouldn't a psychological examination be required? Medication for Richard Nixon's paranoia, for instance, may have saved his presidency. It would be a committee performing the assessment, so it would be fair.

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  • Amy
    07/07/2017
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    A psychological, physical and intelligence examination should be done on all politicians at least yearly. President Trump is long over due for a psychological evaluation, anyone with any common sense can see he is a mad man!

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  • Patty
    07/07/2017
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    I support Mr. Raskin's bill to assess presidential fitness for office, especially since it includes medical professionals and previous office holders. With many presidents taking office at an older age this makes sense and should be done on an annual basis or more often if a particularly troublesome incident occurs.

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  • Ken
    07/07/2017
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    For Pete's sake Mr. Trump has been carrying on with his completely unfounded statements since he announced he was running for president. He's known for saying absurd or untrue statements for many years. Yet he was still elected. My guess is that Trumps supporters voted for him not in spite of his statements and lifestyle but because of them. We have created a monster in Donald Trump and and don't think it's going to be that easy to rid us of him.

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  • Mark
    07/07/2017
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    He has no grasp of reality. (There were not 3 million illegal votes, it did not stop raining during his inaugural speech, he didn't have the biggest crowd ever for his inauguration, Obama was born in Hawaii, etc.) He has no grasp of history (Frederick Douglas is dead, Andrew Jackson did not have an opinion on the Civil war because he died 16 years before it started, etc.) He speaks at a 4th grade level. Everything is about him. He lies more regularly than my clock ticks. He cannot be trusted with classified information. The list goes on and on. Covfefe!

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  • Sue
    07/07/2017
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    Thank for questioning his ability to govern. He is not maintaining his vow to protect and defend the constitution. He is doing everything he can to destroy America. I am very worried that our democracy is in danger. The entire republican agenda is verging on oligarchy.

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  • Nancy
    07/07/2017
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    I support his complete removal from office. The video of him wrestling with CNN showed violent tendencies and he shoved Montenegro's Prime Minister too. He has also said that his life was easier before becoming President. He doesn't understand the system of checks and balances that our forefathers built this country on.

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  • KYvoter
    07/07/2017
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    He is sick. We all saw this from day one. The House and Senate has let this go on so they can complete their agenda to roll back all the laws and sanctions that Obama completed. It's absolutely ridiculous that you would let us possibly go to war so you can keep this mentally ill person in office to get what you want. If you don't back this bill, you're telling the American people this is exactly what you are doing and those that voted you in last time, won't make the same mistake twice. Use common sense and make Trump be evaluated.

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  • Stacy
    07/07/2017
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    I support this bill. Like most Americans, I recognize that Trump is mentally ill and unfit for office but it would be nice to receive official confirmation from a psychiatrist. Trump most definitely needs a mental health evaluation and if he agreed to that plus medication and therapy, there might be a chance he could govern effectively. But it would depend on his compliance and given his blatant narcissism, that is unlikely to occur. For the future, I think there should be TWO White House physicians - an internal medicine doctor to assess physical health and a psychiatrist to assess mental health in what is probably the most stressful job in the world! I think it would be helpful for future POTUS's to have that safety net without stigma.

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  • James
    07/07/2017
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    Nothing is going to happen as long as Republicans are willing to enable Trump's mendacity and breach of ethics. Trump is a wannabe dictator and the Republicans will give it to him and, by proxy, to Vladimir Putin. The only message they will understand is being voted out of a job, and with their renewed efforts on suppressing voters who would vote against them, it seems we do not have much time to fix this problem (Trump) before it becomes unfixable.

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  • Judith
    07/07/2017
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    Thank you. It's long past time to ask these questions.

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  • Michele
    07/07/2017
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    There is no question in my mind that he is unfit for office for a variety of reasons. Not the least is his "highnesses'" tendency to put his needs above those of the country and his relentless attacking of anyone who disagrees with any of his positions. The question is how to make the assessment. A psychological evaluation would require his consent which will never happen. I think that leaves a reliance on his rhetoric and insane tweets. That would be enough if republicans would stop blindly supporting his "highness." Fingers crossed!!

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  • Debbie
    07/07/2017
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    So today at the G20 summit he's tweeting about John Podesta, he's a total jerk, please Wake up Republicans and get him OUT of office, he is totally ignorant of facts, deceitful, a real as he said"NUT JOB"- he is taking America DOWN - OUST him asap.

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  • Bobby
    07/07/2017
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    Omg. Would you damn democrats knock it off and do something that resembles being productive while you are still in office. He is the president, your candidate lost. Get over it.

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  • byron
    07/07/2017
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    This is a slap in the face of millions of Americans who voted this president in. This is high-handed and manipulative. Since you can't intelligently argue policies you attack the person. This is a small group of people who are saying to millions of Americans we do not respect your vote. This is typical of the democratic party at this time. Everyone of us could be judged as unfit if all of our daily behaviors were put under a microscope and scrutinized. Anyone can find fault, but it takes a real leader to find common ground and make something happen. There were many who did not like President Obama, but they quietly tolerated his eight years of leadership. It's time to put away party politics and get something done for the American people. The person who wrote and sponsored this bill needs to be voted out of office as soon as possible.

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  • Kerry
    07/07/2017
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    I strongly advocate that all candidates for the executive branch be required to pass rigorous and properly administered physical and mental assessments of health and fitness by highly qualified medical professionals selected by the attorney general or by the top medical institution in the country. Not just Trump - all of them going forward. This needs to codified.

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  • Terri9365
    07/08/2017
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    His actions at the G20 show again show how unqualified he is. Teresa May had to wake him up for gods sake. Ivanka had to sit in on a meeting. He acquiesced on election interference to Putin. On and on it goes. Next up, nuclear war with North Korea. Golly, isn't this fun.

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  • Ashley
    07/07/2017
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    I back this 100%, but it will never happen. No Congressional Republican will take this seriously. Too much partisanship in Congress for this to work.

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