The following question is inspired by the events of Season 2 of House of Cards. While the original inspiration is a television show, the question is firmly about real-world politics. Apologies if mentioning TV shows is a bit gauche. Oh, and SPOILER WARNING, obviously.
In House of Cards, Garrett Walker resigns as President of the United States, leaving the presidency to Vice President Frank Underwood. This follows from the announcement of intended impeachment hearings, and the perception that he would be impeached and removed from office were he not to resign. The whole process felt a bit rushed to me, and seemed to stem from three primary accusations against the President:
- He participated in a scheme to launder Chinese money into US campaign funds
- He was going through marriage counseling with his wife
- He was taking medication to help with unnamed mental concerns, likely anxiety
Clearly, only the first of the three is a violation of the law, but it wasn't until the second and third were publicly revealed that sentiment turned toward impeachment. Further, several political opponents are shown questioning the President's ability to lead not as a result of the first accusation, but rather because of the latter two, chiefly the third.
Personally, I would view the first as a grave source of concern, but the second and third as immaterial. Who cares if the President is having marriage troubles? About half of all marriages end in divorce, I might view a President more highly if I knew they were willing to see someone about it. Why does it matter that the President takes medication? Life is stressful.
Is it realistic that public perception would turn against a sitting President to the point of impeachment due to taking medication for mental health? I realize that the other two accusations muddy the waters significantly, but I'm really asking why the medication is a factor at all, and if it would be in a real-life presidency.