PA congressman Brendan Boyle introduces ‘STABLE GENIUS’ bill

The question has been asked in whispers for quite a while now, and those whispers have grown louder of late: Is President Trump in some state of cognitive decline?

Now Rep. Brendan Boyle, a Democrat from Pennsylvania, has actually introduced a bill that would require the presidential nominee of any major party to undergo a physical and mental examination, with the results released to the public.

The bill, in one of the great acronyms in the history of legislation, is The Standardizing Testing and Accountability Before Large Elections Giving Electors Necessary Information for Unobstructed Selection — or the STABLE GENIUS Act, a direct reference to Trump’s now-infamous tweet in which he referred to himself as a “very stable genius.”

The STABLE GENIUS Act would also require the mental and physical health examinations of major-party presidential nominees to be submitted to the Federal Elections Commission, and to be made available to the public. While it is currently customary for presidential candidates to release their medical records during campaigns, there is no federal law requiring them to do so — and examinations of mental health have not traditionally been part of those disclosures.

The issue of Trump’s mental health has become increasingly debated following the publication of “Fire and Fury,” Michael Wolff’s bestselling new book about the first year of the Trump White House. The book implies not only that Trump is declining mentally, but that White House staffers are aware of it and have even questioned the president’s fitness for office.

Trump, as he’s wont to do, reacted to the book’s publication with angry, self-aggrandizing tweets like the ones above, plus some bullying tweets for good measure:

It seems clear that there’s something very wrong, and very unprecedented, with the way the president behaves on a day-to-day basis. At the same time, it feels a bit unseemly, and possibly unethical, to try to diagnose a public figure with a mental illness based solely on his actions in public.

But one way to end the speculation would be to require the president to have a professional mental health evaluation.

Even though Boyle’s bill is clearly trolling Trump, it also seems like a good idea that should be taken seriously for future elections.

“President Trump’s reckless, erratic behavior has exposed a critical flaw in our existing election process,” Boyle said in a statement. “Before voting for the highest office in the land, Americans have a right to know whether an individual has the physical and mental fitness to serve as President of the United States. While it is necessary to take the current President’s concerning behavior seriously and I support legislation to address these ongoing concerns, I believe we must also be proactive and do all we can to ensure a situation like this does not arise again.”

With a Republican majority in Congress, the bill is unlikely to advance this year, and it’s hard to imagine President Trump signing a bill requiring him to take a mental examination. But it’s certainly worth pursuing — if nothing else, to anticipate the Republican arguments against it.

Off-the-cuff speculation about the mental health of an elected official can be irresponsible. But at the same time, the American people have the right to know whether their president is in a state of cognitive decline. Congress should end the speculation and pass Boyle’s bill.