This is an extract from Lionel Shriver’s diary, available in the new issue of the magazine, which is out tomorrow.
Over dinner, my fellow Professional American Sarah Churchwell and I shared our dismay over what on earth to say about Trump in public. (Sarah Churchwell ever being at a loss for words will astonish her fans.) Days earlier, a punter had closed my festival event in Swindon with an ostensibly ‘simple’ question: ‘How do you explain Trump?’
Sarah posited a theory gaining mainstream currency. Many of Trump’s characteristics point toward dementia: forgetfulness (leaving an executive order photo-op without remembering to sign the order); volatility, irritability, impulsivity and paranoia; anxiety about stairs and inclines (re: gripping Theresa May’s hand); poor concentration and degraded syntax: reliance on placeholders (‘very, very, very’ buys time), small vocabulary, fragmented sentences.
I just listened to Trump’s 1998 Oprah Winfrey interview. If still arrogant, Trump was lucid, coherent — almost articulate. He didn’t sound like an idiot. He could talk. He can’t talk now. Dire news? Maybe not. It’s tough to unseat a president. The US system doesn’t provide for votes of no confidence. Impeachment entails charging Trump with a crime, and we’ve still no Russian smoking gun. But one long shot is the 25th Amendment, allowing a president ‘unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office’ to be removed. Until such time, hold on to your hats.