I expect better from Bill Kauffman—the sage of Batavia, New York and a true American anarchist-populist-secessionist-reactionary—than schadenfreude and snark, but schadenfreude and snark are apparently all he has to offer in the wake of Donald Trump’s electoral victory:
I voted for Jill Stein on foreign-policy grounds. Gary Johnson was unsound on the mandatory cake-baking issue, and as for his running mate, the only good Weld is Tuesday.1
I walked to the polling place with someone quite dear to me. She, too, intended to vote for Stein, but about halfway there she halted, as if thunderstruck, grinned, and said, “To hell with it; I’m voting for Trump to stick it to the media.” That’s the spirit!
After getting liquored up at the Republican election-night party—a friend was elected county judge—Lucine and I came home and watched the returns into the wee hours, with a wine-brightened giddiness. As a prepubescent populist I cried when Hubert Humphrey lost in 1968, but this time around I fairly howled with delight at the Tom Dempsey boot in the face my neighbors delivered to the corporate media, Wall Street, Big Education, and the entertainment industry.
Yes, Wall Street is already suffering due to the exodus of many of its face-booted leading lights for prominent posts in the incoming Trump administration—that’ll teach them! Sadly, Kauffman’s political instincts (and emotional responses) were far healthier in 1968 than in 2016: he was so much older then, I guess, but he’s younger than that now.
Just for the heck of it, Kauffman also channeled his inner Spiro Agnew and took this entirely gratuitous shot at Kids Today:
For 13 years college snots sat on their lazy asses while the U.S. government waged immoral and unconstitutional wars, but now they take to the streets because the candidate of the proles defeated the candidate of the 1 percent? Gimme a break!
Having recommended Bill Kauffman in the past as someone whose admittedly eccentric views are worth listening to, I’m disappointed. I do think, however, that “Schadenfreude and Snark” is an excellent title for a either a law firm or a cop-buddy TV show.
1 Okay, the “Tuesday Weld” reference is both clever and accurate; it makes me want to listen to Matthew Sweet’s “Girlfriend” all over again.
Contrary to what you might think, Alex Thompson’s “The President Needs a Psychiatrist” is aimed at neither Barack Obama nor our incoming President-elect. Rather, Thompson is merely making the sensible point that, given the enormous pressures of the Presidency and given the national and international interests at stake, we ought to make sure that someone is looking after the mental and emotional well-being of whoever occupies the White House:
Mental illnesses are caused by both environment and genetics, and history makes clear that the Oval Office can be a psychologically unhealthy place. Far from alleviating any nagging psychoses, being elected to one of the most powerful and demanding positions in the world often brings out old gremlins to gnaw on a presidential psyche. Talking to a psychiatrist every once in a while is like preventative medicine to keep such subconscious demons at bay.
“The pressures [of the presidency] are beyond anything that human beings are designed to handle,” David Axelrod, former senior adviser to President Barack Obama, told me last year, adding that in an ideal world the president should be able to see a psychiatrist any time. Even if Trump or any of his successors doesn’t wants to meet the psychiatrist, the president should have easy access in case the pressures of the job change his or her mind.
Moreover, argues Thompson, the appointment of a “Psychiatrist to the President” would be a step towards destigmatizing mental health issues and putting them on a par with other health concerns:
The fraught politics of mental health have clearly not gone away. But Congress could try to avoid them in the short term by quickly codifying the presidential psychiatrist position before Trump is sworn in on January 20. And in the long term, such a move could actually help to destigmatize mental health problems among politicians.
Appointing a presidential psychiatrist would also be a fitting addition to an unprecedented decade of bipartisan mental health policy reform in Congress. In 2008, Congress passed Democratic Representative Patrick Kennedy’s mental health parity law, which required health insurance companies to cover mental and physical illness equally. And just last month, Congress incorporated Republican Representative Tim Murphy’s Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act, which overhauled the federal bureaucracy that deals with mental health, into the 21st Century Cures Act.
That appointing a national Psychiatrist-in-Chief might be controversial is yet one more bit of evidence that we need to grow up about mental health issues: kudos to Alex Thompson for making that point.