Con­gress­man in­tro­duces ‘Sta­ble Ge­nius Act’

Irish Examiner - - World News - Bette Browne

Alarmed by what he calls US pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s “erratic be­hav­iour”, an Ir­ish-Amer­i­can con­gress­man has in­tro­duced leg­is­la­tion that would re­quire all fu­ture White House can­di­dates to un­dergo a com­pul­sory stan­dard­ised med­i­cal ex­am­i­na­tion and pub­licly dis­close its re­sults be­fore the elec­tion.

Yes­ter­day, Mr Trump un­der­went his first med­i­cal exam since tak­ing of­fice. But such tests are con­fined to the phys­i­cal as­pect of a leader’s health and so far it is also up to ev­ery pres­i­dent to con­sent to which med­i­cal in­for­ma­tion ob­tained is made pub­lic.

Pennsylvania con­gress­man Bren­dan Boyle in­sisted he was not sim­ply try­ing to score po­lit­i­cal points at the ex­pense of the pres­i­dent when he in­tro­duced the Sta­ble Ge­nius Act this week, and said he was gen­uinely con­cerned that can­di­dates in fu­ture should have such checks so vot­ers would have all the in­for­ma­tion they needed be­fore go­ing to the polls.

“Be­fore vot­ing for the high­est of­fice in the land, Amer­i­cans have a right to know whether an in­di­vid­ual has the phys­i­cal and men­tal fit­ness to serve as pres­i­dent,” said Mr Boyle.

“Pres­i­dent Trump’s reck­less, erratic be­hav­iour has ex­posed a crit­i­cal flaw in our ex­ist­ing elec­tion process,” Mr Boyle said.

In re­sponse to ques­tions about his men­tal state af­ter rev­e­la­tions in the book Fire and Fury and a num­ber of re­cent tweets that in­cluded touting the size of Amer­ica’s “nu­clear but­ton” com­pared with that of North Korea, Mr Trump tweeted on Jan­uary 6 that his per­sonal suc­cess and elec­tion win make him “not smart, but ge­nius… and a very sta­ble ge­nius at that.”

Repub­li­cans have a ma­jor­ity in the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives and the Se­nate, so Mr Boyle’s leg­is­la­tion is un­likely to make much head­way, but it puts the spotlight once again on the is­sue of the cog­ni­tive and phys­i­cal health of US pres­i­dents.

Thirty-five psy­chi­a­trists, psy­chol­o­gists and so­cial work­ers high­lighted the is­sue last year in a let­ter to the New York Times, say­ing Mr Trump’s speech and ac­tions “sug­gest a pro­found in­abil­ity to em­pathise”.

“In­di­vid­u­als with these traits dis­tort re­al­ity to suit their psy­cho­log­i­cal state, at­tack­ing facts and those who con­vey them,” they stated in the let­ter.

The is­sue was also the sub­ject of much dis­cus­sion af­ter the ten­ure of Ron­ald Rea­gan, who an­nounced his alzheimer’s di­ag­no­sis in 1994, five years af­ter his sec­ond term as pres­i­dent ended in 1989 when he was 78.

In the af­ter­math, for­mer pres­i­dent Jimmy Carter called for a sys­tem that could in­de­pen­dently eval­u­ate a pres­i­dent’s health and ca­pac­ity to serve.

Pic­ture: Yui Mok/PA

Peo­ple take self­ies with the Madame Tus­sauds wax fig­ure of US pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump out­side the new US Em­bassy at Nine Elms, Lon­don, af­ter Mr Trump con­firmed he will not travel to the UK to open the new build­ing — and hit out at the lo­ca­tion of the $1.2bn project.

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