Accuracy in Media

Bandy Lee, the Yale psychiatry professor that has been telling members of Congress she thinks President Trump is dangerous and should be forced into an examination, is strangely unable to comprehend the psychiatry of what she’s doing.

That point came through in an interview she did with Vox, the liberal website run by former Washington Post columnist Ezra Klein.

Lee does not seem to realize the point at which her psychiatric views give way to her political views. Trump’s tweets bother her. There are too many, she says. The tweets seem preoccupied with violence. The North Korea tweets, she says, could set off a nuclear war.

“But that is not the only danger we’re facing,” she told Vox. “There’s everything in between: provoking our allies and alienating them, instigating civil conflict and laying a foundation for a violent culture that could give way to epidemics of violence – not to mention poke a beehive in the Middle East by declaring Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. All of these actions are consistent with the pathological pattern he has already shown of resorting to violence the more he feels threatened.”

So a foreign policy that puts America first, follows American law by moving the embassy to Jerusalem as the last four U.S. presidents have promised and encourages the freedom-seeking protesters of Iran constitutes a pathological urge for violence when he is threatened.

And it’s OK that she breaks the Goldwater Rule, which says psychiatrists won’t comment on the mental state of political leaders, because she is experienced in preventing violence.

“We are assessing dangerousness, not making a diagnosis,” Lee said. This is a judgment about “the situation, not the person.”

“This is a disagreement over ethical rules, not medical assessment,” she says. “It would be hard to find a single psychiatrist, no matter of what political affiliation, who could confidently say Trump is not dangerous.”

So, all psychiatrists who haven’t examined the president think he is crazy because he is moving the embassy to Jerusalem and taking on the North Korea missile threat. And there is a lot of consensus, just like global warming.

Everywhere she goes in academia and on Capitol Hill, where she has addressed 12 Democratic members of Congress on the danger involved, her views have been warmly received. She the group included a Republican senator, only to have to backtrack later when it was learned the senator heard about this during a chance meeting in a hallway and in no way was interested in hearing more.

“Yes – at first I was keeping this confidential and was horrified when it first leaked out to the press sometime over the summer, but [the lawmakers] seem surprisingly OK about it, and so I will tell you,” she says.

“They received us enthusiastically,” she said later in the interview.  “Their level of concern was surprisingly high. From the dozen we have met with, it seemed they were already convinced of the dangerousness of the president and the need for an evaluation.”

Lee does not seek to intervene in the president’s care, but said his doctors should be forced to administer a capacity exam – to see if he has the capacity to be president – when he has his annual physical Jan. 12. Lee doesn’t seek to participate in “the usual political process,” but she is reaching out to still more Democratic members of Congress.

Lee thinks no one notices that her diagnoses – and that’s what they are – are clearly driven by politics or why Democratic members of Congress would be so enthusiastic about her presentations.

“Surprisingly, many lawyer groups have actually volunteered, on their own, to file for a court paper to ensure that the security staff will cooperate with us,” Lee said. “But we have declined since this will really look like a coup, and while we are trying to prevent violence, we don’t wish to incite it through, say, an insurrection.” 

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