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August 4, 2017

Some people re-read books because they like those books. White House Chief of Staff John Kelly apparently re-reads books as a grave warning to himself, The Wall Street Journal reports:

Soon after accepting the chief of staff position, Mr. Kelly picked up C.S. Forester's novel, The General. The 1936 novel chronicles a British officer's rise through the ranks until finally his mediocrity catches up with him and he causes thousands of men to be unnecessarily killed. Mr. Kelly had also read it six months ago when he was given the job of Homeland Security secretary, and before taking top command posts as a Marine general — as a reminder of what to avoid as a leader. [The Wall Street Journal]

The book might hit especially close to home, too: "Everyone in the White House likes referring to [Kelly] as 'General,'" said former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.). Read more about how Kelly is adjusting to the White House, and how the White House is adjusting to Kelly, at The Wall Street Journal. Jeva Lange

February 17, 2017

President Trump's tendency to repeat falsehoods and brag about his own election weeks after the inauguration has left both friends and enemies expressing concern about his wellbeing.

Worries came to a head on Thursday when Trump delivered a wild press conference, bashing news about the White House as being "fake" even though he conceded the "leaks are real" and bragging he had the biggest Electoral College win since Ronald Reagan, despite such an assertion being demonstrably false. "Judging by his Thursday press conference, President Trump's mental state is like a train that long ago left freewheeling and iconoclastic, has raced through indulgent, chaotic, and unnerving, and is now careening past unhinged, unmoored, and unglued," David Brooks wrote at The New York Times.

Democrats have not been shy about expressing their concerns. Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) fretted in a floor speech that the 25th Amendment of the Constitution does not adequately cover mental or emotional fitness when discussing methods for removing the president, while Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) is working on legislation that would require a psychiatrist or psychologist in the White House, The Hill reports.

Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) even confirmed to CNN that "a few" Republicans have confided in him concerns about Trump's "mental health."

For Brian Stelter's Reliable Sources, CNN's Brian Lowry revisited Howard Stern's prediction that the presidency would deteriorate Trump. "I actually think this is something that is gonna be detrimental to his mental health too, because, he wants to be liked, he wants to be loved. He wants people to cheer for him," Stern once said.

Mental health professionals warned The Hill against the "politicization" of claims that an opponent is suffering from mental illnesses: "We certainly wouldn't want individuals to use mental illness as a weapon to harm others," said University of Georgia psychologist Joshua Miller. But even mental health professionals are paying attention to Trump's behavior, with 35 psychologists and psychiatrists recently authoring a letter to The New York Times warning of "the grave emotional instability indicated by Mr. Trump's speech and actions makes him incapable of serving safely as president." Jeva Lange

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