If Donald Trump has been acting strangely in recent years, it may be because he's suffering from a mind-melting sexually transmitted disease he caught from all that sex he had in the 1980s, according to a theory floated Friday by tech tycoon Chris Hughes' former vanity project, the New Republic.
Really. This is a thing I am not making up.
The article's author, Steven Beutler, who claims to have spent three decades treating infectious diseases, dances back-and-forth between suggesting Trump may suffer from neurosyphilis, and claiming he's not really suggesting that.
The op-ed's headline reads, "A Medical Theory for Donald Trump's Bizarre Behavior."
"Many mental health professionals believe the president is ill. But what if the cause is an untreated STD?" the article's subhead added.
The article, which, again, is 100 percent real, has such juicy tidbits as: "Physicians like me have also taken notice of Trump's bizarre, volatile behavior. Given our experience, we can't help but wonder if there's a medical diagnosis to be made."
The op-ed continued, claiming that among the commonly recognized symptoms are "irritability, loss of ability to concentrate, delusional thinking, and grandiosity. Memory, insight, and judgment can become impaired. Insomnia may occur. Visual problems may develop, including the inability of pupils to react to the light. This, along other ocular pathology, can result in photophobia, dimming of vision, and squinting."
Beutler claims to have observed each of these traits in Trump.
But before diving too deep into the STD conspiracy theory rabbit hole, Beutler's article tap-dances back to the I'm-just-asking-questions side of things.
"Does Trump suffer from this condition? I cannot, of course, establish this diagnosis from a distance. There's a great deal of information I don't have access to, which could be critical in reaching the correct conclusion," he explained, arguing that there's just not enough public medical information on Trump.
If readers thought they were going to get out of this op-ed without an allusion to infamous dictators, they are greatly mistaken.
"If indeed Trump has neurosyphilis, he'd be in famous company … Many others were suspected of having it, including Hitler, Mussolini, and Ivan the Terrible," Beutler noted.
The op-ed then ends with this doozy bit of concern trolling:
The importance — both to Trump and the nation — of establishing or ruling out this diagnosis cannot be understated, because this infection is treatable. Without treatment, however, the disease is progressive: It can make for a rather ugly end to one's life. Whether Trump emerged unscathed from his "personal Vietnam" is now a question that he should explore with his personal physician.
I'm old enough to remember when the just-asking-questions routine was a punchline.
Also, this is fun: TNR published an article as recently as Sept. 13, 2016, titled, "The Sexist Speculation About Hillary's Health."
"Donald Trump says Clinton is weak. The alt-right says much worse things. The media ought to know better," the September article argued.
Oh. Look at that: