Charles Krauthammer, a Washington Post columnist who was trained as a psychiatrist, correctly denounces an article by Michelle Cottle in The New Republic that speculates Vice President Cheney is suffering from cognitive decline caused by his heart problems. One of the greatest pathologies of modern political discourse is the constant suggestion that political opponents are mentally ill.
Ironically enough, however, Krauthammer can't resist suggesting mental illness on the part of Cottle and other liberals, ending the column with this paragraph:
If there's a diagnosis to be made here, it is this: yet another case of the one other syndrome I have been credited with identifying, a condition that addles the brain of otherwise normal journalists and can strike without warning -- Bush Derangement Syndrome, Cheney Variant.
And as Matthew Yglesias notes, Krauthammer himself has a history of suggesting that his opponents are mentally ill -- a practice that is particularly inappropriate given his clinical training. Here's what I wrote for Spinsanity in 2004:
[T]he most disturbing of these accusations came from Charles Krauthammer, a columnist for the Washington Post and psychiatrist with a history of inappropriately trading on his expertise for political ends. During an appearance on Fox News Channel's "Special Report" last week, Krauthammer said "it looks as if Al Gore has gone off his lithium again," citing a drug used to treat bipolar disorder.
This was not the first time Krauthammer has offered a phony diagnosis of a political antagonist. In 2003, he suggested former Vermont governor Howard Dean was mentally ill based on a quotation the columnist had heavily altered using ellipses. And the year before, Krauthammer also attacked Gore for his criticism of the conservative media, saying, "I'm a psychiatrist. I don't usually practice on camera. But this is the edge of looniness, this idea that there's a vast conspiracy, it sits in a building, it emanates, it has these tentacles, is really at the edge. He could use a little help."
Krauthammer is particularly fond of mocking his opponents as having bipolar disorder:
-"The media could use some lithium. Not since I studied bipolar disease 25 years ago have I seen such dramatic mood swings as in the coverage of the first week of the war." (Washington Post, 3/28/03)
-"Well, it looks as if Al Gore has gone off his lithium again." (Fox News Special Report, 5/26/04)
Physician, heal thyself!