Was Trump's Meeting With Kanye A Disaster For Mental Health?

Photo: Timothy A. Clary/Getty Images.
Tuesday morning, Kanye West entered Trump Tower for a meeting with President-elect Donald Trump. The internet, which had been abuzz from the moment West was spotted outside of the building, couldn't stop speculating. What was the meeting really about? Was he discussing plans for his own run in 2020? Was he apologizing for exposing Trump's bare ass in his "Famous" music video?

The prevailing theory is actually less complicated and far more troubling than any of that: that the meet-up was yet another clever form of political smoke-and-mirrors designed to distract us from the more important news of the day. A short while earlier, Trump had finally decided on ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson as his Secretary of State pick. The controversial nominee, whose close ties to Russia raise inescapable and disturbing conflicts of interest, left pundits on both sides of the aisle enraged. Yet there we were, turning our collective stares to Trump Tower to gape at the unlikely pairing of the President-elect and notorious rap blowhard Kanye West.
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It was a classic Trump move, one we've seen before.

But this time around, we were caught in a far more dangerous game. Here's what I think: Trump and West are cut from the same cloth — they're both big egos with a flare for the dramatic. So Trump, playing to West's narcissism, which he knows all too well, invited him for a very public meeting on this very important day. (There are no coincidences in politics, people.) Naturally, West would have jumped at the opportunity.
You may recall that West has been in the news lately. Earlier this month, he was hospitalized in Los Angeles after suffering what has been reported as a nervous breakdown; this came on the heels of a string of bizarre incidents, including on-stage rants about everything from the election to Beyoncé rigging the VMAs. In late November, he pulled out of his tour altogether, citing exhaustion. “He never mourned his mother, and that’s at the root of this, and you don’t have to be a clinical psychologist to figure that out," pal Fonzworth Bentley told a reporter.
Given this timeline, there could be no doubt of the frenzy he would inspire when Kanye strolled into Trump Tower — blonde hair and all. We've come to expect the ridiculous tweets and false accusations from Trump, but this was next-level. Trump opted for the guy who, clearly in the throes of emotional distress, would assuredly distract us from pretty much everything else. Yes, Kanye West is a grown-up capable of making his own decisions, but is there any doubt he was being exploited here?
Mental health is a national crisis, with nearly 1 out of 5 Americans suffering from some sort of mental illness, from depression or bipolar disorder to schizophrenia — and Trump's stance toward mental health has historically been, shall we say, cavalier. (Recall his comments about veterans with PTSD as people who "can't handle" the pressures of war, which sparked outrage on the campaign trail.) For Trump, these sorts of issues are evidence of personal weakness, fair game in his merciless brand of politics. Kanye West was only the latest example of our President-elect running roughshod over issues that affect almost every household in America.
I get it — it's hard to muster sympathy for Kanye. He's made a career of relentless know-it-all antics. Only this time, he met his match. And I, for one, feel sorry for him.
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