DANGER ON THE LEFT
A weekly column by Ross Dubberly
The American Psychiatric Association (APA) has followed “The Goldwater Rule” since 1973. The “Goldwater Rule” dictates, in part, the following:
"[I]t is unethical for a psychiatrist to offer a professional opinion [about an individual in the public light] unless he or she has conducted an examination and has been granted proper authorization [to make a public statement on the subject]."
The rule bears this particular appellation because of the disgraceful behavior of some psychiatrists during the 1964 presidential race.
During that election, Fact magazine published a survey that asked 12,356 psychiatrists (2,417 of which responded) whether they felt Senator Barry Goldwater was psychologically fit to be president (1,189 of the 2,417 respondents, incidentally, thought Goldwater psychologically unfit). This attempt by psychiatrists to use their uniquely respected profession to further their anti-Goldwater political agenda was deplorable and unethical. In the words of the Immediate Past President of the APA, Maria A. Oquendo, M.D., Ph.D., this “ethical misstep…could very well have eroded public confidence in psychiatry.”
Readers, quite understandably, have probably never heard about the Goldwater incident, much less the “Goldwater Rule.” It seems to be ethically obvious that one should not use the mantle of psychiatry to promote one’s personal politics. Nevertheless, the rule has crept back into the public discourse. And it is not coincidental that it does so at a time when a Republican occupies the Oval Office.
“Will Trump Be the Death of the Goldwater Rule?” asked an asinine August 23 piece in the New Yorker. A front-page article in USA Todaywhispered of the purported “bipartisan concerns” apropos President Trump’s “mental health.” Similarly, “Who Decides If Trump is Unfit?” was the headline of a recent New York Times featured op-ed.
Because the aforementioned New York Times piece encapsulates the Left-wing narrative on the subject rather well, I shall quote it in part here:
"28 Democratic Congress members have signed on to a bill, introduced in April, that could lead to a formal evaluation of [President Trump’s] fitness…The bill seeks to set in motion a part of the 25th Amendment that empowers Congress to establish a body to assess the president’s ability to govern. The commission created by the bill would have 11 members, at least eight of whom would be doctors, including four psychiatrists. If the commission doctors found Mr. Trump unfit to govern and the vice president agreed, the vice president would become acting president."
The only reasons there are “concerns” about the president’s mental health is that the Left smells another opportunity to bring this Administration down. And do not fool yourself: this has been their desperate goal since the moment Donald J. Trump was sworn into office. Needless to say, however, the whole thing is another farce. The “concerns” about President Trump’s mental health emanate solely from the mainstream media (what has become the propaganda arm of the Democratic Party and the Left generally), angry Leftists, and spineless Republicans (which is almost, but not quite yet, redundant).I am not a “Rockette” for President Trump, to use Mark Levin’s term. On the contrary, in fact, I find myself in sympathy with many of the reasonable objections raised about the president and his policies. Yes, the man has an ego that is, shall I say, “tremendous.” Yes, indeed, he is often bombastic and inarticulate. And yes, of course, he is certainly wrongheaded, even, on several important questions of public policy. But, for God’s sake, the man is not mentally unstable. And those that hurl such a charge, in my judgment, are, in effect, announcing that they have no commitment to truth or intellectual honesty.
Abuse of psychiatry, however, is not a new phenomenon on the Left. The Soviet Union infamously incarcerated perfectly healthy people whose crimes were disagreeing with the State. Under Soviet law, an individual convicted of a crime could be subject to “custodial measures of a medical nature” if he or she was found to be “nonimputable” due to mental illness. These thought criminals could then be placed in “special hospitals” with maximum security. In other words, a non-Communist opinion was the equivalent of insanity in the Soviet Union, and to hold such an opinion might result in a sentence to the psych ward.
To be sure, the American Left, of course, does not want to throw the president in an insane asylum or a gulag. But they do want to bring down his Administration. To depose President Trump, in the Left’s twisted perception, is such a good unto itself that any means justify the ends. Although I think the questioning of the president’s mental health is, for the most part, nothing more than an Alinskyite tactic--i.e., a tool employed by people on the Left because they believe whatever methods are necessary to “win,” as it were, no matter how deplorable, are permissible--I do not totally discount the ideological aspects of such a charge.
To be more concrete, Leftism cannot conceive of a single valid reason for dissenting from Leftism. Thus, such a dissenter must have either a) a malfunctioning mind or b) a malfunctioning conscience (i.e., the dissenter must be immoral). Again, the punishment for disagreeing with the American Left is not a mental hospital as it was in the Soviet Union. But to dissent is to automatically place one’s mind, one’s conscience, or both, into the Left’s suspicion. They do not--not even momentarily--entertain the thought that, perhaps, it is they who are wrong.It is also significant that there is no corresponding thinking about the Left among those of us on the Right. That is to say, conservatives do not think the Left’s positions on public policy render them “mentally unstable,” or for that matter, even immoral. We simply think that they are wrong. The same cannot be said, however, of the Left’s thinking about conservatives.To the Left, Leftism is normal and conservatism is unusual, bordering kooky (as Dennis Prager so often points out). And, rest assured, that to the extent that our president is “mentally ill,” it is only because of the policies he supports or positions he takes that are anti-Left (not even necessarily conservative, but merely anti-Left).From the Left’s perspective, President Trump’s desire to cut excessive taxes, contract superfluous regulations, and curtail illegal immigration--why, those are questionable positions to say the least. To put a fine point on this, I shall leave you with the following question: Do you think President Trump’s mental stability is in question because he wants to spend a trillion dollars on infrastructure, slap tariffs on the importation of foreign goods, or leave Social Security, Medicaid, and Medicare spending “untouched”? Of course not. Because those are Left-wing positions. Or, in other words, those are rational, sane positions.