Former President Donald Trump has never claimed to have been diagnosed with any neurological or behavioral disorders.
Nevertheless, others have tried to do so on his behalf — diagnosing him as a narcissist and a number of other conditions that could explain his bizarre, boisterous and bumbling behavior.
And now some of Trump’s favorite extremists are getting in on the guessing game.
Fox News host Tucker Carlson and Infowars owner Alex Jones, right-wing conspiracy theorists who’ve publicly fawned over Trump for years, have recently characterized him as “autistic."
Carlson made his remarks Friday on right-wing podcast while questioning Trump's recent, outlandish claim that he could single-handedly end Russia’s war in Ukraine.
Asked if he believes Trump could follow through on that claim, Carlson said he has "no idea" and mocked Trump's failure to build a border wall while president.
"There is a gap between promises and delivery with all politicians, very much including him," he said. "But I will say, in Trump's defense — and maybe 'cause he's a little bit autistic — he saw the stakes of [the war] at the very beginning."
To be abundantly clear: There’s no public record of Trump being autistic.
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On a separate conservative podcast last week, Jones claimed Trump is “autistic and very charismatic” while describing a phone call the former president allegedly had with Jones' wife.
Let's point out the obvious: Neither Carlson nor Jones is a doctor. And they’re just about the last people we should take at their word on any subject, but especially in assessing if someone is autistic. These two are far from champions of the truth.
But these remarks raise questions about Trump’s valence in the Republican Party. Two of the loudest voices in the conservative movement are — in their own, twisted way — suggesting Trump has a developmental disorder as he revs up his 2024 campaign for president.
In reality, autism isn’t shorthand for unintelligence. Any presumption that Trump’s odd social behavior or rudimentary understanding of global politics denote autism is undeniably insulting.
The timing couldn’t be worse for Trump, who’s currently pitching himself to potential voters. These irresponsible armchair diagnoses could signal an attempt to dislodge him from the powerful position he holds as the Republican Party’s standard-bearer.