Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Making America crazy - part 1

Make America Crazy Again

Scriber’s Usually Unreliable Sources are said to have uncovered the back story of Trump’s campaign slogan, Make America Great Again.“ The logo is MAGA. Trump, embracing his own mental instability actually is claimed to have wanted MACA - short for ”Make America Crazy Again." Some staffer mistook G instead of C. Observe that the difference is just two keystrokes.

What’s the evidence that Trump meant Crazy (and not Great)? There are numerous examples in this post and elsewhere in my postings (www.skyislandscriber.com). In particular I remind you of my simple formula, X/AntiX that describes how Trump has staffed the various positions, departments, and agencies (X) with leaders, AntiX, who are fiercely committed to destroy what they are responsible for. The leader of EPA is its enemy. The leader of Education wants less of it. The AG, head of the Justice Department, has perverted it in service of Trump. Then you have his compulsive lying. President Trump has made 12,019 false or misleading claims over 928 days. His average is 13 per day but now it’s closer to 20. That’s one an hour even while he sleeps. Those lies are indicative of Trump’s dissociation from reality. He’s given the boot to competent advisors who, forlornly, tried to restrain Trump’s insane impulses. He’s pretty much trashed relations with our strongest allies. And he has embraced dictators of our adversaries as bosom buddies.

So, onward with other views of Trump’s “unraveling”, what is at the root of it, and what must be done about it.

Trump unraveling

Michael Gerson (Washington Post) wrote [Last week proved it, Trump is unraveling][gerson].

Historians studying the Trump presidency will have a prodigious amount of digital material that demands examination but defies explanation. The president’s Aug. 21, half-hour, South Lawn press availability deserves to be at the top of that list.

With the whir of a helicopter engine in the background, President Trump veered from topic to topic with utter confidence, alarming ignorance, minimal coherence and relentless duplicity.

For example:

Of the wounded and grieving families Trump visited following recent mass shootings: “The love for me,” he boasted, “and my love for them was unparalleled.” And this was demonstrated by “hundreds and hundreds of people all over the floor.” No one draws a bigger crowd in an intensive care unit.

On pursuing the trade war with China, Trump called himself the “chosen one.” This came within hours of retweeting the claim he is loved like “the second coming of God.”

What to make of this? First, the Trump presidency is not just unfolding, it is unraveling. All narcissists believe they are at the center of the universe. But what happens when a narcissist is actually placed at the center of the universe? The “chosen one” happens. Trump is not just arguing for an alternative set of policies; he is asserting an alternative version of reality, in which resistance to his will is disloyalty to the country.

Second, the president has systemically removed from his circle anyone who finds this appalling. Every president has the right to advisers who share his basic worldview. But Trump appears, on many topics, to have stopped taking advice altogether. His counselors are now flunkies. The proof of their loyalty is not found in the honesty of their opinions but in the regurgitation of his insanity.

Third, the president is increasingly prone to the equation of the national interest with his personal manias. [Scriber: That’s a theme elsewhere in this post.] He is perfectly willing to threaten relations with Denmark — or to force the Israeli government into a difficult choice — if it serves his tweeted whims. This approach is more characteristic of personal rule than democratic leadership. Self-worship is inconsistent with true patriotism.

Trump’s promotion of moral and political chaos puts other members of his party in a difficult position. Difficult, but not complicated. It is their public duty to say that foolish things are foolish, that insane things are insane, that bigoted things are bigoted. On growing evidence, their failure to do so is abetting the country’s decline into farce.

Trump’s fundamental confusion causes delusion

Or so I think based on NY Times columnist Charles M. Blow’s opinion of Trump’s Paradigm of the Personal and how “He confuses the way he thinks he is treated with the well-being of the country.” (h/t Roving Reporter Sherry).

For Donald Trump, all is personal.

And in his view, he is not the executive of the company. He is the embodiment of the country. He runs the country the way he ran his business, as the curating and promotion of his personal brand.

The people who support him are customers — people to be sold a vision and a dream. The people who criticize or oppose him threaten the brand and must be dealt with.

For Trump, everything is image-based and rooted in the appearance of personal relationships. When the Danish prime minister rebuffed his overture about buying Greenland, calling the idea “absurd,” Trump threw a tantrum and canceled his visit to Denmark.

Trump discussed the episode at one of his press gaggles, calling the prime minister’s response “nasty’ and saying, “We can’t treat the United States of America the way they treated us under President Obama.” He went on to say: “She’s not talking to me. She’s talking to the United States of America. You don’t talk to the United States that way, at least under me.”

“under me”? Trump’s instincts are monarchical, autocratic, but not democratic.

Everything in Trump’s view is about whether someone is nice or nasty to him. It’s not about the country at all. It’s not about historical precedent or value of continuity.

His dislike of his predecessors — Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and even Jimmy Carter — is personal, not rooted in policy. He has a particular obsession with Obama, and has set about to undo everything Obama had done.

It’s petty and small and beneath the presidency, much like Trump himself.

[Including Kim and Putin] Everyone around Trump knows his weakness: He is a bottomless pit of emotional need, someone who desperately wants friends but doesn’t have the emotional quotient to know how to make and keep them. So, they flatter him and inflate him.

That “everyone” includes members of his administration for whom the flattering is a survival mechanism.

In George Washington’s farewell address of 1796, he said:

“The nation which indulges towards another a habitual hatred or a habitual fondness is in some degree a slave. It is a slave to its animosity or to its affection, either of which is sufficient to lead it astray from its duty and its interest.”

Trump is trying to embody the country and to lead it astray in the way that Washington warned against. Trump is a slave to his emotions, and this impulse is doing great harm to the nation, both internally and on the world stage.

I’m not sure that damage is irreparable. Our democracy, though fragile in many ways, has proved remarkably durable in others. But there is no doubt that the damage Trump is doing is deep and will take time and effort to undo.

Trump’s personal problems will leave a national scar.

What can be done …

… about a crazy president? Apparently not much. Supposedly many in the administration and congress have an understanding of the problem but for various reasons are not inclined to any productive course of action.

Jennifer Rubin (Washington Post) has some ideas in Stop the craziness.

Democrats should not get down in the mud with Trump. They should not spew obscenities, cruel remarks and bigoted stereotypes. However, they do want to name Trump’s greatest weakness and create an easy-to-remember message associated with the Democratic nominee. I humbly offer: “Stop the Craziness” (or “Stop the Crazy” or “End the Crazy,” if you want to fit it on a hat).

After all, Trump’s most defining feature these days is a frightful, manic personality more detached from reality than ever before. On Sunday, newly announced candidate Joe Walsh described the phenomenon that most of us have observed but too few say out loud: “We’ve got a guy in the White House who’s unfit. Completely unfit to be president. … ”Everybody believes — in the Republican Party, everybody believes that he’s unfit.” He continued, “The country is sick of this guy’s tantrum. He’s — he’s a child. Again, the litany — he lies every time he opens his mouth. Look at what’s happened this week. He is — the president of the United States is tweeting us into a recession. I can tell you … that most of my former colleagues up on the Hill, they agree privately with everything I’m saying.” He reiterated, “You can’t believe a word he says. And again, I don’t care your politics, that should concern you. He’s nuts. He’s erratic. He’s cruel. He stokes bigotry. He’s incompetent. He doesn’t know what he’s doing.”

We don’t need a medical diagnosis or the 25th Amendment to conclude Trump is crazy in the colloquial sense — cuckoo, nuts, non compos mentis, off his rocker, unhinged. Even Republicans who like the tax cuts or the judges at some level understand this is not normal behavior and, at key moments, feels downright scary.

Name his greatest weakness. Say out loud what’s in the thought bubble above everyone’s head. And you can be certain between now and Election Day 2020, he will say and do things that confirm he is unfit and unstable. Crazy Trump.

This is crucial: It’s one thing to be mean and corrupt. His defenders say lots of politicians are. It is quite another to say he’s so erratic, so unhinged, so crazy that he sends the economy into a tailspin and risks international conflict (or capitulation to enemies such as Kim Jong Un, who Trump — crazily — believes likes him). Tying Trump’s unfitness to dangers to the country and to voters’ personal safety and prosperity should be a key objective for the eventual nominee. Unlike in 2016, “Crazy Trump” doesn’t make a moral judgment. It’s a statement of fact, a highly inconvenient fact for his apologists.

And one doesn’t have to operate in hypotheticals to see the damage he is already doing. His white-nationalist language has fortified and energized violent white nationalists who quote back his catchphrases and pay homage to him. How many other mass killers is Trump going to set off in his culture warfare, which he uses to rile up his base?

Likewise, his escalating trade war, on-again-off-again tax cuts and “order” for American businesses to stay out of China have sent markets plummeting, paralyzed business decision-making and hiked the chance of a recession. His craziness is both dangerous and destructive.

"Stop the Craziness” also suggests something more prevalent and equally upsetting. Trump’s craziness provokes gaslighting and excuse-mongering from his allies and prompts us all to check our social media once a minute to make sure something calamitous hasn’t occurred. His constant lying — claiming victory in the midst of obvious defeat and rewriting history — infuriates those who know better and suggests to them that his followers are dim or deluded or both. Pretending he is a normal president, which his party and too often the media do, is, well, crazy. It’s all that craziness we want to end, too.

No comments:

Post a Comment