Thursday, August 11, 2016

Is He Fit to Be President?

A fitness test in the Army is straightforward – 42 push-ups, 53 sit ups and run 2 miles in under 16 minutes. But for president, it’s more a general sense that a candidate is up to the task. Donald Trump is failing the test.

During a year of primaries, he never convinced more than a handful of national leaders as to his basic fitness to serve. But, a sufficient number of voters weighed in during the Republican primaries to hand him the nomination. The convention of two weeks ago served to formally endorse him and appeared to launch his campaign.

But the last week challenged that endorsement. His behavior not only reopened all the doubts about his ability to focus his attention and run a campaign, but it raised fundamental questions about his basic character and emotional control.

Peggy Noonan
Two of the nation’s leading conservative columnists argued he is not “fit to serve.” Peggy Noonan wrote “The Week They Decided Donald Trump was Crazy” (WSJ, 8-6) and Charles Krauthammer wrote “Donald Trump and the Fitness Threshold” (Washington Post, 8-4).

Noonan’s key sentence was: “Here is a truth of life. When you act as if you’re insane, people are liable to think you’re insane. That’s what happened this week. People started to become convinced he was nuts, a total flake.”

Trump’s bigger problem than a couple of columnists is that the electorate is also judging him unfit to serve. Three recent national polls ask a series of knowledge, character and temperament questions, in which he is barely endorsed by a third of the electorate and tends to lose to Hillary Clinton by 10 to 30 points.

Cozying up to his party with a strained endorsement of Paul Ryan and John McCain and trying to stay on message for a couple of days were much easier than the task of upgrading his fitness to serve.

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