The president might consider a sanity certificate

By BERRY CRAIG

AFT Local 1360

Donald Trump tweeted that he's "a very stable genius" and is not nuts. 

A sanity certificate trumps a tweet. There's precedent for the president seeking one.

When George Wallace ran for governor of Alabama in 1962, his political enemies found out that he'd suffered battle fatigue in World War II, recalled Victor Gold, an author and speechwriter for President George H.W. Bush. 

The anti-Wallace camp said he was thus unqualified.

"On the stump, Wallace, pointing to a bill of health from his veterans hospital, quipped, 'I’m the only candidate in this race who has a certificate proving he’s sane,'" Gold also remembered, adding, "In the South of my political youth – the 1950s and ’60s – we took our crackpot chief executives in stride."

There are more Wallace-Trump parallels. Wallace was Alabama's 45th governor. Trump is the 45th president. Wallace was a full-bore bigot. So is Trump; he's the Yankee Wallace.

"Segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever," Gov. Wallace brayed in his inaugural address.

Wallace, whom Georgia state legislator and civil rights leader Julian Bond dubbed "the hillbilly Hitler," ran for president in 1968 and 1972. Wallace relentlessly pandered to racism. 

Trump won the presidency while appealing non-stop not only to racism, but also to nativism, xenophobia, sexism, misogyny, homophobia and religious hatred.

"To the point, it has been evident for some time that Donald Trump’s mental elevator stops several floors short of the Tower, though politically correct terms like megalomaniac and narcissist have been applied to avoid the embarrassing fact that 63 million adult Americans cast their ballots last November for a man who is flat-out crazy," Gold lamented of his fellow Republican.

Anyway, Wallace might have swiped the sanity certificate shtick from legendary Louisiana governor Earl Long, Sen. Huey "The Kingfish" Long's little brother. In 1959, "Uncle Earl's" wife, Blanche, and his and nephew had the governor strapped in a straitjacket and bundled off to a Texas sanitarium, Gold wrote.  (Like Trump, Earl was a womanizer. He carried on a notorious affair with New Orleans stripper Blaze Starr, the subject of a 1989 Paul Newman movie.) 

"They say that when Earl gets out of the hospital he will take his certificate of health and take it out on the campaign trail with him," Blanche predicted in Life magazine. "Then he can say he is the only man in the race who can actually prove he is sane."

After also spending time in a Louisiana mental hospital, Long was discharged and resumed the governorship, but he died in 1960.   

"It goes without saying that America's 45th president has neither the candor nor the wit to match [Long and Wallace's]...ripostes," Gold penned. "Or to point out that if his family and staff enablers took the minimal step of placing him in a straitjacket, it would save the nation from an endless streak of manic presidential tweets."