I sure hope Donald Trump plans to donate his body to science. When his time comes, I mean.
I know it’s a long shot, the most science-averse U.S. President of all time bequeathing his remains to, say, the medical school at Harvard or Emory or the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, his alma mater. But I’m serious. He’s a rare human specimen, and he owes it to the nation — to the world — to make himself available for posthumous study.
First of all, there’s his body, the ample corpus that makes him look like a killer whale on formal-dress occasions and a colorful hot-air balloon when he takes to the links.
What life-extending secrets might medical science extract about longevity, energy and endurance from dissecting an overweight septuagenarian who stays up half the night watching cable news and tweeting angry insults, gets little exercise beyond walking to Air Force One and his golf cart, and eats mostly the sort of fatty fast foods that are the foundation of our national epidemic of obesity?
And what about his immune system? Was it just immediate, thoroughgoing, state-of-science treatment by a small army of doctors at Walter Reed that made possible his apparently speedy rebound from Covid 19, or does he have fluid in his veins like the creatures from Aliens?
How is it that a walrus with the added weight of the world on his shoulders can make it through day after day of cabinet meetings, phone calls with foreign leaders, medal ceremonies, interviews, photo ops, and campaign rallies without even taking regular naps?
His performance at news briefings — his logic, lucidity and syntax — may leave many of us scratching our heads and grinding our teeth, but you kind of have to admit that his stamina is impressive. I don’t know about you, but I’m two years younger than he is, close to the ideal weight for my height, an exercise buff and a kale eater. I take a siesta most days and still can’t stay awake for Stephen Colbert or Jimmy Fallon. And I don’t have the stress of Manhattan’s district attorney and a dozen or two women threatening legal actions against me next year.
More challenging, albeit potentially more scientifically rewarding, would be the study of Trump’s brain. He has long maintained that he’s a genius and a stable one at that, but his declarations of mental prowess sometimes seem at odds with his erratic behavior, his childishness, and his seemingly limited vocabulary. What could dissections and tissue scans discover about the wiring of his brain?
Some people believe that Trump is a narcissist, a liar, a con artist, a crook, and/or a psychopath. He says he isn’t, and that he only interrupted his lucrative business career to take a relatively low-paying government job because America’s greatness needed restoration. Objective scientific study of his brain could, among other things, settle such debates for posterity.
In an article for the website Live Science, writer Clara Moskowitz reported about a Mayo Clinic study of people with antisocial personality disorder, a condition commonly found in criminals and characterized by an indifference to laws and the rights of others.
“Brain scans of the antisocial people, compared with a control group of individuals without any mental disorders,” she wrote, “showed on average an 18-percent reduction in the volume of the brain’s middle frontal gyrus, and a 9 percent reduction in the volume of the orbital frontal gyrus — two sections in the brain’s frontal lobe.”
Another study Moskowitz cited compared the brains of like numbers of psychopaths to non-psychopaths. “In the psychopaths,” she wrote, “the researchers observed deformations in another part of the brain called the amygdala, with the psychopaths showing a thinning of the outer layer of that region called the cortex and, on average, an 18-percent volume reduction in this part of brain.”
“The amygdala is the seat of emotion,” she was told by a member of the research team, Adrian Raine, of the Department of Criminology at the University of Pennsylvania. “Psychopaths lack emotion. They lack empathy, remorse, guilt.”
A close look at Trump’s orbital frontal gyrus and his amygdala could add to our understanding of how he came to be who he is — and possibly exonerate him.
Finally, there’s the fame factor. Very few celebrities have donated their bodies to science. Not only could Trump join that short list, but he would be also the first President to do so.
Well, unless Jimmy Carter, another extraordinarily durable human, beats him to it.