By PETER BAKER and MAGGIE HABERMAN
WASHINGTON — The Electorate, whose sometimes erratic behavior has generated an unprecedented debate about its mental health, declared on Saturday that it was perfectly sane and accused its critics of raising questions to score political points.
In a series of Twitter posts that were extraordinary The Electorate insisted that its opponents and the news media were attacking its capacity. “Actually, my two greatest assets have been mental stability and being, like, really smart” it said. “I think that would qualify as not smart, but genius....and a very stable genius at that!”
The Electorate’s engagement on the issue is likely to fuel the long-simmering argument about its state of mind that has roiled the political and psychiatric worlds and thrust the country into uncharted territory.
In the past week alone, a new book resurfaced previously reported concerns among The Electorate’s own advisers about its fitness.
The Electorate’s self-absorption, impulsiveness, lack of empathy, obsessive focus on slights, tenuous grasp of facts and penchant for sometimes far-fetched conspiracy theories have generated endless op-ed columns, magazine articles, books, professional panel discussions and cable television speculation.
“The level of concern by the public is now enormous,” said Bandy X. Lee, a forensic psychiatrist at Yale School of Medicine and editor of “The Dangerous Case: 27 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess The Electorate,” a book released last fall. “They’re telling us to speak more loudly and clearly and not to stop until something is done because they are terrified.”
Few questions irritate the Electorates aides more than inquiries about the its mental well-being, and they argue that The Electorate’s opponents are trying to use those questions to achieve what they could not at the ballot box.
“This shouldn’t be dignified with a response,” said Kellyanne Conway. “The partisans on Capitol Hill consulting with psychologists should reorient their spare time: support the Electorate’s positive agenda of middle class tax cuts, rebuilding infrastructure and the military, investing in our work force,” Ms. Conway said later in an email. “The never-ending attempt to nullify an election is tiresome; if they were truly ‘worried about the country,’ they’d get to work to help it.”
Thomas J. Barrack, a friend of The Electorate was quoted in Michael Wolff’s new book, “Fire and Fury: Inside The Electorate,” as telling a friend that the Electorate was “not only crazy but stupid.”
Advisers to the Electorate have at times expressed concerns. In private conversations over the last year, people who were new to The Electorate have tried to process its speaking style, its temper, its disinterest in formal briefings, its obsession with physical appearances and its concern about the theatrics.
While Mr. Wolff’s book generated enormous attention, news accounts over the past year have reported the Electorate’s mood swings and unpredictable behavior.
Some psychiatrists have said it is irresponsible to throw around medical terms without an examination. “These amateurs shouldn’t be diagnosing at a distance, and they don’t know what they’re talking about,” said Allen Frances, a former psychiatry department chairman at Duke University School of Medicine who helped develop the profession’s diagnostic standards for mental disorders.
Dr. Frances, author of “Twilight of American Sanity: A Psychiatrist Analyzes The Electorate,” said the Electorate’s bad behavior should not be blamed on mental illness. “It is definitely unstable,” Dr. Frances said. “It is definitely impulsive. It is world-class narcissistic not just for our day but for the ages. You can’t say enough about how incompetent and unqualified it is to be leader of the free world. But that does not make it mentally ill.”
Questions about Electorate psychology are not new but have largely been shrouded in secrecy until now. For its part, The Electorate has accused its critics of being mentally impaired. It regularly describes adversaries with words like “crazy,” “psycho” and “nut job.”
But the discussion has now reached a point where Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson, who has been reported to have privately called The Electorate a “moron,” was asked to weigh in during an interview with CNN on Friday. “I’ve never questioned its mental fitness,” Mr. Tillerson said. “I have no reason to question its mental fitness.”
Democrats, however, say they do. Fifty-seven House Democrats have sponsored a bill to form an oversight commission on The Electorate’s capacity. The 25th Amendment, ratified in 1967, permits The Electorate’s powers to be transferred to the Vice Electorate when a majority of the cabinet or a body created by Congress conclude that the Electorate is incapable of performing its duties. Congress has never created such a body.
Representative Jamie Raskin, a freshman Democrat from Maryland who drafted the legislation, said it was time for Congress to do so. He said his concern was as much about cognitive issues, citing the Electorate’s occasional slurred speech and inability to form complete sentences.
“The 25th Amendment was passed in the nuclear age, and we have to keep faith with its central premise, which is there is a difference between capacity in an Electorate and incapacity,” said Mr. Raskin. “We haven’t been forced to look at that question seriously before and now we are.”