Saturday, February 11, 2017

Trumpotheses to explain Trump's unpresidential, monarchical behavior

I was going to introduce here a new word, Trumpothesis. My proposed dictionary entry would look something like this.

Trumpothesis
Trum·poth·e·sis
trəmpäTHəsəs/
noun
a supposition or proposed explanation of Donald Trump’s erratic behaviors made on the basis of preliminary evidence as a starting point for Congressional impeachment proceedings.
See also Trumpotheses (pl), Trumpothesize (v), Trumpothetical (adj), Trumpothetically (adv).

But there is little new in our lexicon. Here is the web site that beat me to it.
Bereans @ The Gate
Engaging Today’s Political Economy with Truth & Reason
And the author and his post: My Trumpotheses by Mark Caleb Smith on November 10, 2016. That blog is “is dedicated to exploring matters of politics, economics, history, law, and culture from a distinctly Christian perspective …”
(There are other instances of “Trumpothesis” on Facebook; the one I found seems to be a TeaParty site. ’Nuff said.)

Smith proposes four Trumpotheses.

… I have a series of Trumpotheses, “testable” statements we should be able to revisit over the next four or eight years.

H1: Experience Matters. Leaders with practical experience in their field perform better than those without such experience. …

H2: Character Matters. Leaders with strong character (defined as truthfulness, integrity, fairness, and consistency) are better leaders than those without such character. …

H3: Inserting a “celebrity” into the Oval Office will have a negative, corrosive influence on our culture and our politics.

H4: Advisors are less important than ultimate decision makers. Though excellent advisors can minimize problems, flawed decision-makers exercise a noticeable, negative influence on the organizations they run.

Scriber cannot reject H1, H2, and H3 based on observations during less than a month of the Trump presidency. Experience matters. So does character. And celebrity status brings negative baggage to the office. H4, however, is another matter. I suggest that Steve Bannon, chief strategist and apparently a chief advisor, is a phenomenon that is grounds to question if not reject H4.

More Trumpotheses

John Cassidy of The New Yorker asksWhy does Donald Trump lash out at everybody, even judges?. Cassidy explores some explanations of Trump’s unpresidential behavior. I pick up the story with the most recent pieces of evidence.

… On Wednesday afternoon, reports emerged from Capitol Hill that Gorsuch [Trump’s SCOTUS nominee], in a courtesy meeting with a group of senators, had used the words ”demoralizing” and “disheartening” to describe Trump’s attacks on the judiciary. Before long, Gorsuch’s comments were leading the news, and, on Thursday morning, they dominated the front pages of the major papers.

If ever there was a no-win story for the Trump Administration, this was it. During its chaotic first two weeks, the rollout of Gorsuch had provided a rare bright spot. Even liberal legal experts, such as Harvard’s Laurence Tribe, had conceded that Gorsuch is a learned and careful judge. But now here was Gorsuch criticizing the words of the President who had nominated him—a first, surely.

With nothing to be gained from giving this story wider currency, the smart thing for the White House to do was to ignore it and wait for something else to lead the headlines. (In this Administration, you never have to wait long for another shocker.) Or, if they were forced to comment, Trump’s aides could have sought to dismiss Gorsuch’s remarks, which his political handlers confirmed, as an effort to curry favor with Democratic senators and avoid a filibuster.

On Wednesday night, the White House seemed to be proceeding along these lines. But early Thursday morning, during his morning cable-news viewing hours, Trump took to Twitter and tore into the Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal, of Connecticut, who had been the one who originally relayed Gorsuch’s comments to the press. “Sen.Richard Blumenthal, who never fought in Vietnam when he said for years he had (major lie),now misrepresents what Judge Gorsuch told him?” Trump tweeted.

What followed was eminently predictable: another round of Gorsuch stories, which only served to confirm that the President’s nominee to the Supreme Court had indeed said the words Blumenthal attributed to him. Later Thursday morning, Kelly Ayotte, the former Republican senator who is helping to shepherd Gorsuch’s nomination through Capitol Hill, issued a statement in which she said that what Gorsuch had told senators was that “he finds any criticism of a judge’s integrity and independence disheartening and demoralizing.” The Republican Senator Ben Sasse, who was also in the meeting with Gorsuch, said the nominee told him, “Any attack on brothers or sisters of the robe is an attack on all judges.”

[H5.] How can Trump’s self-defeating behavior be explained? One theory, subscribed to by a number of mental-health professionals, is that he suffers from a narcissistic-personality disorder that prevents him from turning the other cheek. Whenever anybody crosses him or says anything critical about him, this theory goes, *Trump suffers “narcissistic injury”*—an intense feeling that his entire self-worth has been called into question. And this prompts him to lash out, regardless of the consequences. John Garner, a Baltimore psychotherapist, has launched an online petition that says Trump “manifests a serious mental illness that renders him psychologically incapable of competently discharging the duties of President of the United States.” So far, more than twenty thousand mental-health workers have signed the petition.

[H6.] Another theory is that Trump is a rational actor, but that he doesn’t care what the media, or, indeed, a majority of Americans, think about him, because he doesn’t need their support. As long as the Republicans in Congress stick to the Faustian pact that they have made with him, he can do without high approval ratings. Of course, he does need to cultivate some support. But by constantly attacking his opponents in the media and the Democratic Party, by turning on judges who dare to query his policies, and even tweeting about his daughter’s business, he is doing just that—signalling to his core supporters that he hasn’t turned into a normal politician, and that, therefore, they can trust him.

My guess is that there is that no single theory that can explain what we’re now seeing. Like Frank Costanza, Trump can’t stop himself from lashing out. But he also believes these firestorms work for him politically. That explains why he refuses to give up his Twitter account, and also why he employs spokespeople like Kellyanne Conway, who almost outdid her boss on Thursday, when she told Fox News viewers, “Go buy Ivanka’s stuff.” [Scriber: Got that one covered in a separate post.]

So pick your favorite Trumpothesis. Don’t look for stuff to prove you right. Instead, try to find disconfirming evidence - stuff that would prove you wrong. If that endeavor fails, then maybe, just maybe, your Trumpothesis is supportable and grounds for removing Trump from office. Then go ask your Representative to vote articles of impeachment. S/he might do that. Or not, this whole scenario being Trumpothetical.

Trumpothetically speaking, of course.

No comments:

Post a Comment