Thursday, June 29, 2017 12:11 PM
The Toddler’s New Clothes (2017Jun29)
In the past, presidents have had staffs, media consultants, and press secretaries who were protective of their president’s image. They tried to highlight his successes and downplay his errors, as any good political team will do. Today’s president has a propaganda factory going—denying truths, if not reality itself—attacking journalism to blunt journalists’ accusations—and, worse of all to my mind, being just plain rude.
Never before in presidential politics has the concept of lèse-majesté been so entirely rejected. And the putrid smarm that oozes from them when they are caught in a situation where civility is mandatory (such as an Easter Egg Hunt on the White House lawn) defies our containment of reverse peristalsis.
We think Trump is at his worst when he’s insulting ethnicities, religions, or women, or when he’s defrauding job-seekers, voters, or small businesses, or when he’s leering at his own daughter, discussing casual sexual-assault, or peeking into dressing rooms—but I say No.
I say Trump is at his most blatantly sociopathic when he plasters that grin on his face and goes into his ‘kindly uncle’ act. He almost looks like a loving parent embracing Ivanka—until his creepy little fingers start to automatically wander. He can’t shake hands with a man without going into spasms of paranoid egotism. And he has a terrible time trying to act nice to others while still focusing entirely on himself—you can see the struggle on his face. He knows he should be sincere towards others, but worries it might distract him from his obsessive self-regard—or, worse, it might show weakness.
Trump tries to drag us backwards, towards tribal-chieftain paradigms, long after the world has learned that enlightened inclusion (and some thoughtful socialism amongst the capitalism) produces the most civilized, secure, and economically-stable society. The strong, the wealthy, the sexist—bullies of every type—react against this, seeing their usual muscles being cut by the forces of reason and civility.
The wealthy like to promote conflict. ‘Surface’ crises help keep people from facing the more ‘infrastructural’ aspects of our way of life—chaos helps maintain the status quo by keeping people too busy bickering to look at the bigger picture. I see Trump in this context, not as a mastermind, but as a gift to the wealthy’s agenda—a hugely popular sociopath that has all of us up in arms, ignoring the sweep of the last five decades—and giving zero thought to the onrushing wave of the next five.
Trump tells his crowds, “I do what I want.” Then he turns to the serious people and tells them, “I didn’t know anything—I didn’t know I was breaking the law.” Trump tells his crowds, “It will be easy to fix.” Then he turns to the serious people and tells them, “I didn’t know it was so complicated.” Trump behaves in a way that even a six-year-old couldn’t get away with—and all his base, who wish they could behave like six-year-olds, in one way or another—they cheer with rage. And that’s a very 1930s-Germany kind of sound.
Then, of course, there’s the lying. A grown-up knows when he or she has been caught in a lie, and has the maturity to face up to being found out—a child will continue to insist on the falsehood, as if insisting on it will make it so. In times past, we would have described the Trump administration as childish. But those people act as if lying is a new fashion they’ve trend-set—and the media, for some ungodly reason, has gone along with this to the point where a lot of viewers wonder what’s happened to reality.
And so we all are on the edge of panic—because the world is on the cusp of titanic changes—and America, leader of the Free World, is currently being administered by naughty, irresponsible children.