Syphilis in the News

I find it hard to tell you, I find it hard to take
When people run in circles it’s a very very
mad world mad world – Roland Orzabal, Mad World 

 

Back in 1990, the NYTimes ran an article letting us know that syphilis was making its comeback.  Surging, in fact.  Long believed to be in decline, the disease had gotten little attention and doctors knew surprisingly little about it as a result.  It is apparently notoriously hard to diagnose.  Yet after Trump’s recent press conference, the New Republic ran an article arguing that his behavior matched up well with late stage syphilis.

Let’s assume that Trump doesn’t have syphilis, there being no evidence that he does.  Let’s take this not as a diagnosis, but simply as one description of his demeanor.  More restrained coverage characterized his press conference as unhinged – this is a word I saw often.  Also bizarre and vapid.  Also petulant and egomaniacal.  And yet his supporters, watching this very same performance, apparently loved it.

One of the things Trump suggested, one of the many things Trump said, was that representatives need only care about the needs and opinions of the people who voted for them.  This was in reference to angry town halls.  And a recent PEW poll found an approval rating for Trump of about 84% among Republican voters.

So there’s your partisan divide.  On one side, people see a man whose behavior is not caused by but is consistent with the symptoms of tertiary syphilis.

On the other, people see the well-informed, hope-inspiring president they’ve always wanted.

You can’t even see from here to there.