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Yarmuth, Dems Question Trump's Mental State. Fair?

donald trump
Creative Commons/Gage Skidmore

Congressman John Yarmuth is the latest Democratic lawmaker to question President Donald Trump’s mental health.

At an NAACP chapter meeting in Louisville earlier this week, Yarmuth called Trump a “dangerous president” and said he’s “not sure of his mental state.”

“He doesn’t seem to care about what happens once the applause stops," said Yarmuth, who represents the 3rd Congressional district including Louisville. "He seems to be in it solely for the applause. And that’s what somebody with his ego and narcissism would be. It’s just about standing up in front of a crowd, have people cheer for him and that’s all that matters to him.”

A handful of otherDemocratic lawmakers have publicly questioned Trump's mental health.

In a speech from the House floor last week, Oregon Democratic Rep. Earl Blumenauer called for a review of the 25th Amendment, the process by which a president can be removed as a result of being unable to discharge the powers of the presidency.

Psychiatrists have debated the issue in competing letters to the editor in the New York Times in recent weeks, despite a longstanding tradition among the profession to not speculate on the mental health of public officials.

Speculating that politicians are struggling with mental health issues has long been used as a cudgel in political campaigns.

Yarmuth has been a vocal critic of Trump — both before and after his election as president. He was one of dozens of Democratic members of Congress who boycotted Trump’s inauguration on Jan. 20.

“I know that leaders from around the world are totally freaked out because they don’t know what to take seriously, what not take seriously and they don’t have any idea what’s the policy that the administration of the country is going to be,” Yarmuth said.

Trump has made waves during his first month in office — he nominated a Supreme Court justice, and issued a number of executive orders including one that shut down the country’s refugee resettlement program and barred immigrants from seven Middle Eastern countries, one that began to dismantle Obamacare and another that revived the Keystone XL pipeline.

He’s also kept up his brash, freewheeling rhetoric that he honed on the campaign trail — both on Twitter and in campaign-style rallies long past Inauguration Day.

Dewey Clayton, a political science professor at University of Louisville, said that Trump has played a large role in changing what kind of rhetoric is acceptable in the political world.

"Some of President Trump’s behavior might be considered by some as not being what we consider appropriate for the president as such," Clayton said. "Everything is so strange now. It’s essentially like we’re almost in an alternative universe now. What used to be normal is no longer normal necessarily."

In his NAACP speech, Yarmuth said he wasn’t aware of Trump committing any impeachable offenses, but mused about the possibility of Vice President Mike Pence having to step in as Commander In Chief if Trump resigned.

“From a policy perspective it would be worse,” Yarmuth said. “From a sanity perspective it would be better. And right now I would vote for sanity over policy.”

Yarmuth also reflected on last year’s presidential election, calling Hillary Clinton a “historically flawed candidate.”

“People were looking for a different direction, she was an established direction,” he said.

Yarmuth also said Democrats lost important constituencies in the election, including organized labor.

Ryland Barton is the Managing Editor for Collaboratives. Email Ryland at rbarton@lpm.org.