Jonathan Turley on Trump Derangement Syndrome

Today’s good post on the economy is over at Econlog. Here’s my bad post:

Matt Yglesias directed me to an April 25 article by Jonathan Turley in The Hill, where he derided Biden’s claim that Trump would “try” to delay the election:

Biden left little doubt of such a plan by Trump. He said, “Mark my words, I think he is going to try to kick back the election somehow, and come up with some rationale why it cannot be held.” It is just the type of thing that a crazed guy in a tightly buttoned raincoat whispers to you on the subway.

And today:

With Universal Mail-In Voting (not Absentee Voting, which is good), 2020 will be the most INACCURATE & FRAUDULENT Election in history,” the president tweeted Thursday morning. “It will be a great embarrassment to the USA. Delay the Election until people can properly, securely and safely vote???

If I had heard Biden make that prediction, I probably would have assumed he was being a bit over the top. But now that Trump has suggested that perhaps the election should be delayed, I owe Biden an apology. I wish I’d made the prediction.

I’m sorry Joe.

For TDS to actually exist, there’d have to be theories of Trump that are so over the top that they could not possible be true. In fact, there’s literally nothing Trump wouldn’t do if he could get away with it. If 10 million Americans had to die of Covid-19 for him to get re-elected, and could do so secretly, he’d make that deal with the devil in a heartbeat. He’s a self-pitying sociopath.

PS. Please don’t leave comments telling me that Biden is a buffoon. I knew that before you were born. This post is about TDS.

PPS. Speaking of derangement, check this out.



32 Responses to “Jonathan Turley on Trump Derangement Syndrome”

  1. Gravatar of Brian Brian
    30. July 2020 at 11:44

    Culture matters and economists and conservatives seem to be reminding the public that it does. This election might be a referendum on whether presidents should tweet sentences ending with 3 question marks.

  2. Gravatar of Christian List Christian List
    30. July 2020 at 11:45

    For TDS to actually exist, there’d have to be theories of Trump that are so over the top that they could not possible be true.


    there seem to be different opinions what TDS actually is. Your attempt at a definition seems absurd to me.

    TDS is NOT that you recognize Trump’s personality disorders, or his crazy suggestions, or that you are a bit afraid of him. Recognizing all this is really not a skill, it’s common sense.

    TDS is form of fear or hatred, so intense, that it impairs people’s judgment nearly completely.

    TDS is a form of mood affiliation.

    TDS is the predictable reaction to respond negatively to nearly every Trump initiative, nearly every Trump policy, and nearly every Trump idea, pretty much no matter what it is.

    TDS is the loss of Christian values, the cry for bloody revenge, comparable only to the excessiveness and unchristianity of Trump himself.

    TDS is a predictable intellectual seizure as soon as there is some connection to Trump. TDS is almost the complete loss of rational analysis once the name Trump is mentioned.

    TDS is a form of psychosis or paranoia, so intense, that nearly EVERY action by Trump, or even his very existence, is seen as axiomatically wrong, evil and dangerous.

  3. Gravatar of Chris Chris
    30. July 2020 at 11:50

    People are entirely too credulous in this day and age.

  4. Gravatar of Josh Josh
    30. July 2020 at 12:04

    I don’t view TDS as so much being about what Trump would like to do. I think TDS is about obsessively looking at what Trump might do as if what he wants means anything.

    Trump is truly the worst president in history. But the country was doing as well as it ever had on nearly every front, and it took a global worldwide pandemic to derail that (and it’s not clear the US was derailed more than most similar countries). That’s certainly not a statement about how great Trump is. In fact it’s the opposite – it shows how robust our institutions are that even such a sociopath could do essentially zero real harm (at least not with the harm done by previous presidents as a baseline).

    TDS emerges when people ignore that. It’s people who hang on his every tweet as if it tells us something about the future while ignoring the very robust feedbacks built into the system that prevent his tweets from becoming reality (and in fact even his own tweets usually contradict themselves if you wait a day).

    None of which means people should vote for him. But obsessively worrying about the worst Trump could do if he were to find himself totally unconstrained by reality is an irrational fear more similar to a phobia than anything legitimate.

  5. Gravatar of stoneybatter stoneybatter
    30. July 2020 at 12:11

    It’s a credit to Scott that he lets these comment sections continue without any moderating. Loonies like Christian can post whatever pops into their heads and Scott tolerates it. If I ran a popular blog, I hope I’d be as honest and liberal as Scott, but I fear I would snap and ban these people.

    Christian, you note that it is “common sense” to see “Trump’s personality disorders or his crazy suggestions.” Then, in the next breath, you try to argue that it’s irrational to dislike him and his initiatives. Obviously the former has some relation to the latter.

    If Trump came out tomorrow and supported all my dream policy initiatives, it would not make me dislike him any less or make him any less evil. It would mean exactly nothing, because, as you hinted, he is pathological liar whose words mean nothing. He contradicts himself all the time, on every issue, minute to minute. You say that opposing this would be “TDS,” I say that is the rational response when you’re facing someone as terrible as Trump.

  6. Gravatar of Daniel R. Grayson Daniel R. Grayson
    30. July 2020 at 12:21

    I’d like to hear more about how Biden is a buffoon. Or has that already been posted to your blog?

  7. Gravatar of Tom Brown Tom Brown
    30. July 2020 at 12:36

    Christian, good to know. Given your definition I don’t know anybody with TDS.

  8. Gravatar of Tom Brown Tom Brown
    30. July 2020 at 12:48


    What do you call it when someone believes that a Q-level security clearance DoE employee is posting clues on 8kun about how Donald Trump was sent by Jesus to help a zombie JFK Jr. rescue mole children imprisoned under Central Park by a globalist cabal of Satanic cannibalistic andrenochrome-harvesting pedophiles lead by Hillary Clinton, John Podesta, Tom Hanks, George Soros, Bill Gates and Dr. Fauchi (with Fauchi being responsible for creating the China virus in a lab in Wuhan out of demon sperm and 5G radiation and Gates being responsible for creating a microchip laden fake vaccine with which to implant the Mark of the Beast into soccer moms)?

    I call it mainstream 2020 Republicanism.

  9. Gravatar of Christian List Christian List
    30. July 2020 at 13:25

    stoney and Tom,

    I have not specifically asked for funny examples of TDS in combination with severe lack of reading comprehension. But thanks anyway.

    stoney, what can i say about your censorship wishes, there’s a little big Trump in you, huh? Make sure your mask doesn’t slip all the way off.

    Compared to you two, Scott must be credited in so far that he has no TDS in certain areas.

    A black-and-white television set is sending less black and white than you two clowns.

  10. Gravatar of Skeptical Skeptical
    30. July 2020 at 13:34

    Trump Derangement Syndrome: Trump is literally Hitler (read this with vocal fry for full effect)

    Non Trump Derangement Syndrome: he’s an even dumber Berlusconi but with senility and ADD as a bonus

  11. Gravatar of Michael Sandifer Michael Sandifer
    30. July 2020 at 13:51

    Christian List,

    Trump is a stupid, ignorant, extraordinarily narcissistic fascist. Where’s the positive?

  12. Gravatar of Cartesian Theatrics Cartesian Theatrics
    30. July 2020 at 14:38

    On a sort of a meta level, isn’t it really bad that Dems are pushing to substantially change the voting process leading up to an election? This has the potential to massively damage union, regardless of who’s in the right. It seems like we should be doing a lot more to instill confidence in our elections.

  13. Gravatar of cove77 cove77
    30. July 2020 at 15:18


  14. Gravatar of Benjamin Cole Benjamin Cole
    30. July 2020 at 15:41

    Well, I am canceled out at Econlog so I will comment here on Sumner’s latest post there.

    Sumner argues that monetary policy alone would be sufficient to counter even the 2020 depression, brought on suddenly by a pandemic. He makes a good case (I suspect monetary policy would not be quick enough. Also, is there a “cost” to fiscal policy If the Fed can merely buy national debt and keep it on its balance sheet, without inflationary consequence?).

    I realize that mainland China is opaque. Yet in macro-economic terms they have performed well through both the 2009 debacle and the 2020 debacle.

    Sumner seems to know a lot about China and a lot about monetary policy (and the shortcomings of our current president).

    In China, what is it that allows Beijing to sidestep depressions? Credit policies? Fiscal policies? Monetary policies?

    The People’s Bank of China, at least on the surface, does not appear to be very active through the 2020 debacle.

  15. Gravatar of Ray Lopez Ray Lopez
    30. July 2020 at 15:47

    @stoneybatter – like most blogs, being too critical can get you banned, even here, one of the most liberal comment sections. Our host threatened to ban me once when they thought I was misrepresent their views (which seem to be understood by no one).

    @ssumner – “Despite the preceding comments, I actually believe the economy received too little stimulus in Q2 of this year. ” – that bat shiite crazy dude. Seriously? US Debt-to-GDP just blew past Rogoff’s Excel-error 120% limit.

    @Daniel R. Grayson – you’re new here. SSumner never has a kind word for anybody, unless they are in violent agreement with them (“just kidding”)

    @Christian List – your views are quite reasonable, even conventional, yet around here you get treated like a Nazi. Why don’t you go full berserk German on us and tell us what you *really* feel? Lol.

  16. Gravatar of Jg Jg
    30. July 2020 at 16:25

    I predict Scott would permit himself to be eaten by trump and with ketchup, if it were the only option to guarantee a Biden win.

  17. Gravatar of Christian List Christian List
    30. July 2020 at 16:26


    Nobody is just black and white, probably not even Hitler. Hitler was a stupid, ignorant, extraordinarily narcissistic fascist. No doubt about that. So, for the following example, imagine Trump is Hitler.

    Then take any pretty good idea of Hitler, under certain aspects, for example the sickle cut plan of Manstein and Hitler.

    It was known that the British and French troops would quickly move into Belgium to await the Germans there. From a military point of view, it was therefore a fairly good if not ingenious, idea to penetrate the supposedly insurmountable Ardennes in order to stab the Allies in the back.

    TDS in this example would be to deny completely that Hilter was right in this case under military points. And the TDS version of the “analysis” is simple backed up by the “argument” that Hilter was such a stupid, ignorant, extraordinarily narcissistic fascist.

    This example also shows how dangerous TDS is and how fragile and vulnerable it can leave you behind.

  18. Gravatar of Michael Sandifer Michael Sandifer
    30. July 2020 at 18:06

    Christian List,

    Hitler was more of a bungler in terms of military planning than anything else. He was smarter and more informed on military matters than Trump, but was still an ignoramus. His decisions to take the pressure off the UK airforce precisely when they were on the verge of collapse, and many decisions on the eastern front were catastrophic mistakes. The counter-attack that became the Battle of the Bulge was also stupid, as was sacking people like Guderian.

    Do you see positives in everyone? This is insane? Trump? Hitler? Why not just try to lift up Satan himself.and revise his biography?

  19. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    30. July 2020 at 19:12

    Christian, Great! Now define Xi Derangement Syndrome. Then look in the mirror.

    Chris, LOL, it’s not true in my office or those people I talk to, so it can’t be true in any of the other 535 offices, even though Congressional staffers tell people it is true.

    Beautiful example of conservative thinking circa 2020.

    Josh, You said:

    “and it’s not clear the US was derailed more than most similar countries”

    Our death rate is 10th out of 215 countries.

    I’d say there’s a fundamental inconsistency in your view. You say almost all other countries are affected, but that was equally true of the Great Recession (and the GOP got blamed for that). So if presidents are not responsible for what happens (a reasonable view), then why point to the fact that things were going well under Trump until they weren’t. You can’t have it both ways.

    Sure you can point to Trumpian things that helped a bit, like the corporate tax cut. But you can also point to thing’s Trump messed up, like not encouraging masks until very recently.

    Stoneybatter, I believe it helps make my case to allow the looney people comment here. They prove my point

    Daniel, He’s not 1/10th the buffoon Trump is, but he’s said some bizarre things over the years.

    Skeptical, That’s about my view.

    Cartesian, Meta level? Isn’t that tinfoil hat level?

    Ray, LOL, I never said the budget deficit was too small!

    Jg, You’d be wrong. Four years ago I said I cared more who won the Philippines election than the US election. Politics does not play a big role in my life.

  20. Gravatar of Russ Abbott Russ Abbott
    30. July 2020 at 20:10

    Great piece Scott. Why ruin it with a P.S. that stoops to name-calling? You are better than Trump. Please don’t imitate him.

  21. Gravatar of Cartesian Theatics Cartesian Theatics
    30. July 2020 at 20:16

    You’re saying it’s tinfoil hat level to suggest there could be more fraud because of mail-in ballots? I don’t know much about it, and haven’t followed the story closely, but it just seems odd to make a big change right before an election. I’m definitely not trying to excuse any of Trump’s insane lies about it, but why not call for basic measures to better secure the voting system? The headline should be “Here’s Everything We’re Doing to Make Sure Your Election is Safe and Secure”.

    I was just reading Charles Stewart on the topic, and it seems like there’s plenty we should be thinking about.

  22. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    30. July 2020 at 22:22

    Russ, I’m allowed to point out a few flaws in candidates I support. That’s very different from Trump’s name calling.

    Cartesian, I always use mail in ballots, as do millions of others. The fact that more people will choose that option this year is not exactly surprising.

    Sure there some vote fraud (on both sides) in every presidential election, but that’s not what this is about.

    The main goal of the modern GOP seems to be to prevent as many people from voting as possible.

  23. Gravatar of Edwin Alvarenga Edwin Alvarenga
    30. July 2020 at 22:49

    Henry Olsen also had a similar post critisizing Biden.

    To his credit, he’s denoucing Trump for it. But gave a non-apology to Biden.

    “In fact, I assumed it was unthinkable, which is why I strongly criticized Biden in April when he claimed without evidence that Trump would try to delay the election”

  24. Gravatar of Cartesian Theatics Cartesian Theatics
    30. July 2020 at 23:15

    Is it not a very significant thing for states to change their operating procedures in the months leading up to an election? I don’t see why we’re treating this as “no brainer”. It needs to be treated as a very sensitive thing by both sides. The usual “experts say” (no link, of course) and “Trump’s a liar” is not doing any good. After all, right-wingers could easily cheat if they think the other side is likely cheating. Just seems so risky.

  25. Gravatar of Postkey Postkey
    31. July 2020 at 02:15

    “Trump is a stupid, ignorant, extraordinarily narcissistic fascist. Where’s the positive?”
    He wasn’t H.R.C. and we are ‘here’ to witness it?

    ‘One of many truths lost within this discourse is the reality that the creation of a no-fly zone would, in the words of the most senior general in the US Armed Forces, {probably?} mean the US going to war “against Syria and Russia”. ‘

    During the election campaign H.R.C., three times, {stupidly?} threatened to impose a ‘no fly zone’ in Syria – confronting a nuclear armed country.

  26. Gravatar of Postkey Postkey
    31. July 2020 at 02:32

    “The main goal of the modern GOP seems to be to prevent as many people from voting as possible.”

    It appears that you are right?

    “And it’s deadly. Doubtless, Crosscheck delivered Michigan to Trump who supposedly “won” the state by 10,700 votes. The Secretary of State’s office proudly told me that they were “very aggressive” in removing listed voters before the 2016 election. Kobach, who created the lists for his fellow GOP officials, tagged a whopping 417,147 in Michigan as potential double voters.”

    “In 2016, no fewer than 5,872,857 ballots were cast—and never counted.
    Does it matter? In Detroit, 75,355 ballots were never counted because of 87 broken scanning machines. And Trump supposedly won Michigan by 10,700 votes — really?
    And, no fewer than 1,982,071 legal voters were denied the right to vote. Told to get the hell out of the polling station. Can you guess their color?
    Add it up. That’s at least 7,854,928 legitimate votes and voters tossed out of the count.
    So God Bless America. By the way, these numbers are from the raw data supplied to me by the US Elections Assistance Commission.

  27. Gravatar of Raj Raj
    31. July 2020 at 07:27

    Benjamin asked:
    In China, what is it that allows Beijing to sidestep depressions? Credit policies? Fiscal policies? Monetary policies?

    Is it possible that this is because China is a high savings economy? So essentially they owe their mounting debt largely to themselves giving them a larger cushion.

  28. Gravatar of Chris Chris
    31. July 2020 at 14:14

    @ssumner – it might be true – but someone on twitter saying ‘i’ve heard this is true’ without any substantiation isn’t believable.

  29. Gravatar of Chris Chris
    31. July 2020 at 14:16

    @ssumner – for the record, I’m not a conservative and think Trump is a buffoon. But spreading rumors that make us feel superior to those we disagree with makes things worse – not better.

  30. Gravatar of janice janice
    31. July 2020 at 14:35

    Isn’t context important? When I heard Trump say we should “delay the election”, it sounded very sarcastic and humorous. His statement was not intended to be taken seriously.

  31. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    31. July 2020 at 20:14

    Carteisan, Sure, fix any problems. But what does that have to do with delaying the election?

    Chris, Yes, all the bad things the media reports about the GOP are fake news. I’ve commented on probably 100 Trump scandals, and I doubt more than 1 or 2 were later exposed to be fake news. I’ll take those odds.

    And don’t act like it was some random person on twitter.

    Janice, Yeah. like when he “joked” about reducing testing, or when he “joked” about encouraging the Russians to release dirt on Hillary. Trump’s a real comedian—so funny!!!

  32. Gravatar of Christian List Christian List
    4. August 2020 at 15:18

    Christian, Great! Now define Xi Derangement Syndrome. Then look in the mirror.


    Sorry for the late reply. A fair point at first sight, but then not really.

    I did a Google search, and I hardly mention Xi in my statements, so this part of a derangement syndrome is not fulfilled.

    Second, I have no problems admitting when Xi is doing a “correct” action, in fact, of the few times I mention Xi, 30-50% of the statements contain “praise” for correct actions, which is of course way too much in reality, and certainly not a derangement syndrome like TDS, rather the opposite: I’m too soft on Xi.

    Third, you talked about fascism regarding CCP, and you still can’t tell me how I could ever top that with my form of milder criticism. XDS? No, not really. But nice try, anyway.

    Michael Sandifer,

    I think your answer is very good, it underlines what I wanted to say. Now I also understand better what people with TDS often actually want: They want to clarify that Trump (or Hitler) is a madman, assuming other people don’t know this.

    But you don’t really have to enlighten me about Hitler’s mistakes, I know them too well. My post was about the sickle cut, and you felt the strong urge to make it about Hitler as a whole, to show how evil he was. Okay, I understand that, but it’s really not necessary in my case; and it’s the point I’m trying to make with TDS, it’s part of its definition.

    Do you see positives in everyone? This is insane? Trump? Hitler? Why not just try to lift up Satan himself.and revise his biography?

    Funny that you mention it. There are certainly phases in my life where I don’t understand God. Satan is at least an interesting figure, his ambiguity, his portrayal as fallen angel, this makes him almost human.

    And the only source we have about him was written by his arch-enemy, which makes me, as a critical contrarian, naturally think.

    The Christian God on the other hand is rather boring. His supposed strength and perfection makes him as tedious as Superman in the superhero universe. I take the Norse or the Roman Gods any day.

    Besides there are some serious problems with the Christian God. I have literally held dying children in my arms, try to reconcile this with an almighty loving God, it is really hard.

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