Not everyone is a gifted speaker. And that doesn’t mean they are mentally impaired in any way. I’m a terrible speaker. I can write in a reasonably coherent way, but often when I speak, I feel like I’m struggling to find the right words. And I frequently worry that what I’ve said could be misinterpreted.
So, I would never condemn anyone — not even Donald Trump — for not being a gifted speaker. But the truth is, the way Trump speaks is bizarre. In fact, it’s bizarre to the point that one could reasonably ask if there’s something wrong with him.
To that end, I present you with a set of facts. Language skills and difficulty in communicating are early signs of dementia. Coupled with reports from people who have known Trump for years who say that he used to have a much bigger vocabulary, it’s not unreasonable to ask questions about his mental health. He is, after all, a 70-year-old man.
Here are some of the early signs of dementia. In addition to being repetitive, a person may experience impairments in:
- reasoning and judgment
- finding the right words
- following story-lines
So, let’s look at some examples of things Trump has said.
“I will be so good at the military your head will spin.” — “The Hugh Hewitt Show,” 2015
“I’ll tell you one thing, this is a very good looking group of people here. Could I just go around so I know who the hell I’m talking to?” — responding to a question about using nuclear weapons against ISIS, The Washington Post, 2016
“I’m not going to tell you anything about what I’m going to do. I’m not going to talk about military stuff. I will not say, ‘We are going to attack Mosul in four months. We are going to attack in one month. Next week, we are going to attack Mosul.’ In the meantime, Mosul is very, very difficult — you know why? I don’t talk about military and certain other things. You were going to be surprised to hear that, by the way, my whole campaign I said that. I don’t have to tell you.” (February 2017 press conference)
“By the way, it would be great if we could get along with Russia. Just so you understand that. Tomorrow, you will say, ‘Donald Trump wants to get along with Russia; this is terrible.’ It is not terrible. It is good. We had Hillary Clinton try to do a reset. We had Hillary Clinton give Russia 20 percent of the uranium in our country. You know what uranium is, right? It’s this thing called nuclear weapons. And other things. Like lots of things are done with uranium. Including some bad things. But nobody talks about that. I did not do anything for Russia. I’ve done nothing for Russia. Hillary Clinton gave them 20 percent of our uranium. Hillary Clinton did a reset, remember, with the stupid plastic button that made us all look like a bunch of jerks?” (February 2017 press conference)
“We do, if it’s illegals, in other words, if it’s everybody, but people that are legally living here, I’m doing very well. In other words, people that are here, like Hispanics that are in the country, I’m doing very well. People that vote. Like people leaving voting booths and all, I’m doing very well with them.” — responding to negative poll numbers, The Washington Post, 2016
Difficulty following story-lines
“And I would create in the inner cities, which is what I really do best, that’s why when I open a building and I show you it’s way ahead of schedule, under budget and everything else—I think it was the Rite Aid store, the store in Baltimore it took them 20 years to get it built, one store, and then it burned down in one night—we have to create incentives for people to love what they are doing, and to make money.” The Washington Post, 2016
“I mean, I watch CNN, it’s so much anger and hatred, and just the hatred. I don’t watch it anymore because it’s not very good. … I think it should be straight. I think it should be — I think it would be frankly more interesting. I know how good everybody’s ratings are right now, but I think that actually — I think that’d actually be better.” (February 2017 press conference)
Reasoning and judgement
“Well, the leaks are real. You’re the one that wrote about them and reported them; I mean, the leaks are real. You know what they said, you saw it, and the leaks are absolutely real. The news is fake because so much of the news is fake. So one thing that I felt it was very important to do — and I hope we can correct it. Because there’s nobody I have more respect for — well, maybe a little bit, but the reporters, good reporters.” (February 2017 press conference)
Difficulty finding the right words
“See, I know when I should get good and when I should get bad. And sometimes I’ll say, ‘Wow, that’s going to be a great story.’ And I’ll get killed … But I know what’s good. I know what’s bad. And when they change it and make it really bad, something that should be positive — sometimes something that should be very positive, they’ll make okay. They’ll even make it negative. So I understand it. So, because I’m there. I know what was said. I know who’s saying it. I’m there. So it’s very important to me. Look, I want to see an honest press. When I started off today by saying that it’s so important to the public to get an honest press. The press — the public doesn’t believe you people anymore. Now, maybe I had something to do with that. I don’t know. But they don’t believe you. If you were straight and really told it like it is, as Howard Cosell used to say, right?” (February 2017 press conference)
“I won with news conferences and probably speeches. I certainly didn’t win by people listening to you people. That’s for sure. But I’m having a good time. Tomorrow, they will say, ‘Donald Trump rants and raves at the press.’ I’m not ranting and raving. I’m just telling you. You know, you’re dishonest people. But — but I’m not ranting and raving. I love this. I’m having a good time doing it. But tomorrow, the headlines are going to be, ‘Donald Trump rants and raves.’ I’m not ranting and raving.” (February 2017 conference)