1. WA elections
I haven’t followed the WA election closely, but the main impression is of chaos and farce. Newspoll has Labor ahead 54-46 TPP, with Labor winning 34 of the 59 seats in the lower house on a uniform swing. One Nation has tanked from 13% to 8% over the last six weeks.
Colin Barnett’s punishment for the upper house preference swap deal with ON was having to explain the reasons to the media 35 days in a row.
- an extraordinary level of control over its candidates, including kicking candidates off their own Facebook pages and demands that they cull their followers lists to approved people only.
Yet they may still end up with the balance of power in the upper house.
At one stage I felt sorry for a WA ON candidate who was being pestered by the ABC over what he thought of Hanson’s views on vaccination and Putin, as though those topics would be foremost in voters’ minds.
It’s ON’s first run on the ground since their re-emergence at the last federal election. Senator Ron Boswell fought ON the first time, says the LNP need to fight her directly now and govern for the centre.
- “I said to my colleagues last week, you stupid bastards, you are governing for two weeks out,” Boswell told Guardian Australia on Tuesday.
“All you are worried about is getting your next piece of legislation through. You’ve got to do that but when Sinodinos said she is nice and she is better than she was, I thought you’ll rue that day.
“Because all you are doing is legitimising people voting for her. Making it safe for people to vote for her.”
Perhaps ON will implode all by themselves. Certainly they are showing their limitations.
2. Is Trump is ill?
No, says Dr Allen Frances it’s just bad behaviour. He says:
- Donald Trump is unlike any other president in US history. The country has had its share of stupid presidents, impulsive presidents, lying presidents, ignorant presidents, narcissistic presidents, bellicose presidents and unpredictable presidents.
But never before has one so fully embodied all these undesirable traits. And never before have the institutions of US democracy appeared so fragile in the face of autocratic attack.
Frances says there are several petitions, signed by many psychiatrists, saying Trump is mentally unwell and should be removed from office. He says:
- I strongly oppose these initiatives for several reasons. But the main one is the inaccuracy of the narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) diagnosis: Trump may be a world-class narcissist, but this doesn’t make him mentally ill.
I wrote the criteria for NPD for the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, which guides mental health diagnosis in the US and beyond. These require not only that the personality features be present, but also that they cause clinically significant distress and impairment. Trump appears to cause severe distress in others (rather than experiencing it himself) and has been richly rewarded (rather than punished) for his self-promoting and self-absorbed behaviours.
It also unfairly stigmatises people with mental illness (who are mostly well behaved and well meaning) to be lumped with Trump (who is neither) and it is an insult to the dignity of their sometimes deep suffering to compare it with his petulant tantrums and petty disappointments.
We must avoid the frequent mistake of confusing mental illness with bad behaviour. Most people who lie, cheat and exploit others are not mentally ill, and most mentally ill people do not commit dishonourable acts.
Narcissism, like other mental disorders, is on a spectrum, and it’s a bit arbitrary just at what point a personality trait tips into a disorder. Nevertheless, many psychiatrists are concerned enough to break their usual rule about diagnosing outside the clinic, and commenting on public figures.
3. Looking for a leader
Essential Report this week showed voting intentions pretty much unchanged with Labor leading 53-47 TPP. However, the polls on who would make the best leader were a bit of a riot.
For the Liberals, it was Don’t know 28%, Malcolm Turnbull 20%, Someone else 18%, Julie Bishop 17%, Tony Abbott 10%, with Christopher Pyne, Scott Morrison and Peter Dutton scoring 2% each.
Turnbull was at 42% in December 2015.
For Labor, the massive winner was Don’t know with 35%, followed by Bill Shorten at 21%, Someone else 16%, Tanya Plibersek 13%, Albo 11%, Chris Bowen 3% and Tony Burke 2%.
On penalty rates 57% think business will pocket the savings, while only 24% think business will employ more people. 51% think the government should legislate to protect penalty rates, while 31% think it shouldn’t.