Greetings again from the darkness. Election Day 2020 is only two months away. Our nation is divided into two vocal factions … those for President Trump and those against him. There seem to be very few who fall into the “undecided” bucket, and that’s with no head-to-head debate yet. Because of this, we might question the “why” of Dan Partland’s documentary. However, what it does is condense three and a half years of President Trump’s actions and words into about 80 minutes of jarring psychoanalysis.
The film kicks off by informing us the President of the United States, as a result of taking office via election, is not subject to passing the mental fitness evaluation required by the military … yes, the military of which he is now Commander-In-Chief. We then hear from a steady stream of psychologists who offer up their diagnosis, though admittedly, none of met with Trump personally, and their analysis is based solely on observation and experience. They are in agreement that he fits the personality disorder known as a “malignant narcissist.” This label has four key elements: narcissism, paranoia, anti-social behavioral disorder, and sadism (the pleasure of harming others).
Labels are in vogue here. We hear from many psychologists and some previously associated with government and/or the administration, and each one has a label for Trump. The overriding question of Mr. Partland’s film appears to be, “Is Trump fit to be President?” In addition to the psychologists, we get interviews with George Conway, Malcolm Nance, and Anthony Scaramucci. Conway labels Trump as a “practical joke that got out of hand”, while Scaramucci (who lasted a total of 11 days in the administration) offers up a defense of Trump by stating, ‘Obviously he’s an a-hole, but he’s not a racist. He treats everyone like s___.”
Malcolm Nance offers up the most substantial insight into how government officials view the President, but it’s sportswriter Rick Reilly and author Tony Schwartz whose recollections are most memorable. Reilly tells the remarkable tale of how Trump cheats at golf (a gentleman’s game of integrity) and Schwartz, who co-wrote the book “Trump: The Art of the Deal”, states matter-of-factly that the President has no empathy for others.
The psychologists explain The Goldwater Rule and how The Tarasoff Rule overrides it. Bottom line, they are speaking out because of what they perceive to be their duty to warn society of impending danger. It should be noted that John Gartner is writing a book about Trump and his infamous tweets, and it is fascinating to see Jane Goodall’s study on chimps correlated to Trump and our society. The Hitler and Mussolini comparisons are discussed, as is the rise of fascist leaders in Brazil, The Philippines, Turkey, and other countries.
Is Donald Trump fit to be President? The argument is made here that he’s not, though we don’t hear any input from those who believe he is. Character on judgment have been on display since January 20, 2017 (and even before inauguration), so voters will decide. The film ends with discussions of nuclear threats and responsibilities, as well as how the Coronavirus was initially handled. Trump is given credit for drawing out what is referred to as the “tribal nature” in folks”, but mostly what we are left with is that Trump believes it’s all about him. Perhaps the impact of the documentary would have been greater had there been statements and input from those who support him. Instead, it comes across as confirmation for those who agree with this sentiment, and noise for those who don’t.
Available September 1, 2020 on digital and cable VOD