Here's my take on what's going on with the Republican candidates. With very few exceptions (at times Rand Paul, Jeb Bush, and John Kasich act to the contrary), they are behaving like complete two-year olds.
Two-year olds just say whatever pops into their heads at the moment with no concern whatsoever for the consequences. They never apologize for anything they've said or done because in their minds they've never done anything wrong. Complete egotism!
They have virtually no awareness that what they've just said directly contradicts what they said a moment ago. But then, you have to be mature enough to appreciate the concept of contradiction.
All of the Republicans, save Rand Paul, and maybe John Kasich, engage in magical thinking. For example, they assert with great bluster that the US can use whatever military force it wants to solve political problems without any concern for what the rest of the world thinks and would do in response, if not in retaliation. Again, absolutely no thinking whatsoever about consequences!
In times of great stress, it's well known that people revert to earlier, primitive stages of development. That is to be expected. Nonetheless, the extent to which the Republican candidates and voters have regressed to primitive stages is absolutely scary. It's nothing less than mind-boggling.
Another prime characteristic of two-year olds is their feelings of omnipotence. Notice how much over and over again the Republican candidates harped on the need for America to regain its standing in the world. What they were really saying is that we need to be omnipotent once again. How scary is this with those who would have their fingers on the "button?" Start a war in order to shore up of one's feeling of powerlessness?!
Without acknowledging in any way the mess that he inherited and giving him any credit for the recovery, in casting President Obama as completely responsible for all our problems, the Republicans are enacting another of the prime features of two-year olds. They are splitting the world sharply into Good Guys versus Bad Guys with President Obama as the Supreme Bad Guy!
My deepest fear is that we're not just dealing with two-year olds, but with severely disturbed children. For instance, the fact that Donald Trump did not correct a man when he charged that President Obama was a Muslim is unforgivable.
I'm perilously close to doing something one should never do: casting all Republicans as Bad Guys!
Ian I. Mitroff is Professor Emeritus from USC. He is a Senior Investigator in The Center for Catastrophic Risk Management at UC Berkeley. He is President of Mitroff Crisis Management. His most recent book is: Dumb, Deranged, and Dangerous: A Smart Guide to Combatting Dumb Arguments.