When a friend told me that Donald Trump was not qualified to be president because he had a "personality disorder," I couldn't help but laugh out loud. Yeah, The Donald is a near-hopeless narcissist. And that probably barely scratches the surface. So, why was I laughing? Because, what president hasn't had a personality disorder?
Let's review some of the modern inhabitants of the most powerful office in the world:
Franklin D. Roosevelt: A terminal "momma's boy," FDR was so dominated by and subservient to his mother that his wife, Eleanor was never able to break through the mother/son bond and establish her own identity within the family. On top of that, FDR was vain, secretive, manipulative and deceitful. Over his lifetime, he conducted numerous relationships with women other than his wife, including a decades-long dalliance with Lucy Mercer.
John F. Kennedy: No one (not even his wife and his closest associates) felt they ever got to really know JFK -- a man who was charming but nonetheless distant and somewhat detached. His best friend and longtime classmate, Lem Billings struggled to build a bond with Jack Kennedy only to wind up commiserating with JFK's wife about the conundrum that was Kennedy. In pain much of his life and riddled with drugs, Kennedy was incapable of intimacy and seemed to live for instant gratification via fleeting diversions such as sexual "quickies" with scores of women.
Lyndon B. Johnson: Crude, boorish, self-centered and verbally abusive, LBJ soared through periods of high accomplishment only to crash into a darkness that left him isolated for days at a time. The man required constant adulation but simply could not come to believe his own campaign slogans. Thrust into a world of high-charging, effete Ivy Leaguers, he constantly felt inadequate and routinely threatened to quit until he actually did exactly that in 1968, refusing to seek or accept his party's nomination for another term.
Richard M. Nixon: In modern times, has there ever been a more tortured soul (or more mendacious character) in the White House than Richard Nixon? Paranoiac, insecure, scheming and masochistic, Nixon followed one of the greatest triumphs in recent political history by thrusting us into a constitutional crisis that shook the very foundations of our government. Near the end, he roamed the halls of the White House in an alcoholic stupor talking to the portraits on the walls.
Jimmy Carter: A well-known micro-manager, Carter actually insisted on monitoring who was using the White House tennis court and when. Always, he retained the option to sign off on such use. Sanctimonious to a fault, Carter could be spiteful and frequently blamed others for his problems. When he found himself in a real jam in 1979, Carter pointed to the American people as the source of his troubles, declaring that we suffered from a "malaise" that had triggered a national "crisis of confidence."
William J. Clinton: Egocentric, reckless and often adolescent, Bill Clinton defamed the dignity of his office via dangerously promiscuous behavior and deceitful shenanigans that made him the first elected president ever to be impeached. He experienced periods of near-giddy grandiosity while avoiding (or conveniently compartmentalizing) some very grim realities. Even in the face of behavior that would have shamed a normal person, he continued to defy decency and common sense.
Why have I catalogued these?
Because, through it all the country survived.
And, each of these leaders had his own quite impressive accomplishments. FDR gave us the New Deal and got us through the Great Depression and World War II. JFK triumphed in the Cuban missile crisis and inspired us to put a man on the moon by the end of the decade. LBJ built the Great Society and signed landmark civil rights laws. Nixon opened the door to China and gave us the EPA. Carter successful brokered a peace agreement between Egypt and Israel. And Clinton delivered welfare reform, kept us prosperous and left us with a budget surplus.
And did we mention that one of our greatest presidents, Abraham Lincoln was almost certainly bipolar?
People have flaws. They even have "personality disorders." But America is bigger and stronger than all that. We the people usually find a way to make our voices heard and get things done.
Which is to say, yes -- we'll be just fine if Donald Trump becomes president. In fact, we may even thrive.