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TRUMP, EMPATHY AND THE CIRCUS

October 4, 2017

TRUMP, EMPATHY AND THE CIRCUS

I am a lawyer and not a psychiatrist but I know enough about human nature to know that Donald Trump’s narcissism will not allow him to be upstaged by anybody, or even by events. He refuses to have anything but praise for his administration’s handling of the recent disasters in Houston, Florida, the Virgin Islands and especially Puerto Rico. He not only blames the victims of these catastrophes for their plight but demonstrates an utter lack of empathy for their situations with such observations that “It could have been worse,” or “Katrina was worse,” or (as to Puerto Rico) “The locals are lazy” etc.

In his addled otherworld, he must have all of the praise and adulation available, so if it is football season he attacks the players; if it is hate the Mexicans time he pardons a fascist sheriff who led the hate mongering; if it’s the Las Vegas catastrophe he smugly suggests that “It could have been worse.” He will apparently say or do anything to avoid criticism and garner praise and adulation from his adoring base. He will not be upstaged by anyone or any event that detracts in the slightest from his evaluation of himself and his role and uses the flimsiest of pretexts to accomplish the task (e.g., football players must stand for presentation of the flag, a flag he refused to defend with his phony and multiple draft-dodging, and never mind their Constitutional rights to Peaceful Assembly and protest).

Thanks, Don, and as usual, any FEMA or other shortcoming in providing help from Washington to the homeless and hungry who are victims of these hurricanes or NRA-sponsored shootings has to be someone else’s fault since he and his administration are handling  all such matters perfectly, and so it is that his narcissism and the superlatives he employs in describing perfection will not permit him to be upstaged even by events, much less other humans, humans such as Obama and Hillary, to whom he regularly ascribes any real or perceived personal shortcomings in playing his role as president.

I write “playing” advisedly, since in his world only perception and not substance is everything. He is playing a la The Apprentice at being president. It’s all a show. He has not to date had a single significant piece of legislation passed by his own party’s Congress. He has harassed his own cabinet members’ pronouncements of policy. He has insulted his attorney general; he has hounded his HHS secretary out of office, not for taking expensive plane trips at taxpayers’ expense but for being caught doing it; and the latest insult he has levied is against his own Secretary of State, Tillerson, for the latter’s back channeling with North Korea in the interest of peace, saying that Tillerson “is wasting his time trying to talk to the little rocket man.” Tillerson, like the attorney general, has not resigned – yet – though if they had any honor and dignity they would have gone out the door after such public putdowns by the boss. The best that can be said for their failures to resign is that they secretly feel a need to stick around so as to contain their ailing boss in order to limit the damage the boss will do to our country and world peace.

When the circus came to town in the old days, there was always a march down the city’s streets the day before the circus opened, a march which included acrobats, marching bands, elephants and the like. The kids and even their elders crowded the sidewalks to view the march and were motivated to attend the circus afterward to see the tigers and elephants perform along with gymnasts and trapeze artists et al. Scant if any attention was paid to those at the end of the parade who busily scooped up the droppings of the elephants with their shovels and brooms.

When I heard just recently that “White House sources” had come out to say that Tillerson’s policy of engagement with North Korea would continue I immediately correlated such “sources” with those at the end of the old circus parades, cleaning up what Trump’s thoughtless and ignorant mouth had dumped on the street of our national security (and perhaps even our survival). It then occurred to me that this is not the first time “White House sources” have had to do damage control resulting from Trump’s thoughtless twitters and ad lib banter which are designed to set policy, a design that ignores the advice of career government people in the State Department, among others, people who are intimately acquainted with where we are and how we got here and where we should be headed in international matters. After all, since Trump has told us before that “I know more than all the admirals and generals” it is not a stretch to include career diplomats in that group of his otherworld inferiors.

It appears that such expertise is to be ignored by a Trump who is interested not in the substance of policy changes for the better but in rather framing those who have the nation’s future at heart in degrading and insulting terms that appeal to his base, a framing which not only does not solve the problem but instead enrages those who are seeking solution, whether in matters of trade, defense, budget, and now even the potential for atomic war. It is apparently better for all to die than for Trump to be upstaged in his otherworld of narcissistic haze.

But for the potential for a horrendous result to humanity, I would recommend that “White House sources” put down their shovels and brooms and leave Trump dangling in the cold north wind of ignorance and irresponsibility with his twitters dreamed up in his otherworld and foisted off on his base for their praise and adulation. However, nearly all of us live in the real politik world of brilliant diplomats both past and present who engaged friend and foe alike in attempting to solve their differences, engagements that especially cry out for success in this atomic age.

I note that Trump did not appear to be aware of Tillerson’s back-channeling effort with North Korea, but whether he knew or not, his insulting language leveled at both Kim and Tillerson was a blow to the possible success of such negotiations.  Thanks, Don! I finally note that Trump had nothing to say about the recent back-channeling of his son in law, Kushner, with the Russians, and I wonder why. Perhaps when “Mueller Time” finally arrives we will be objectively enlightened on such matters, as finally, and not a minute too soon,evidence trumps spin.    GERALD       E

 

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