Congressman introduces ‘Stable Genius Act’
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.
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