Trump

“This Is What Happens When a Narcissist Runs a Crisis” (Jennifer Senior)

It is not often that I reprint an article from elsewhere, but I think this Washington Post opinion piece by Jennifer Senior is such an intelligent, insightful, honest, and necessary addition to the public discourse about Donald Trump that I thought you would want to read, and share, it. I think you’ll also see how beautifully written it is — and how blistering.

President Trump last year at the White House. His mental health has been questioned since the early days of his administration.

Link to article and photo credit

Since the early days of the Trump administration, an impassioned group of mental health professionals have warned the public about the president’s cramped and disordered mind, a darkened attic of fluttering bats (emphasis mine). Their assessments have been controversial. The American Psychiatric Association’s code of ethics expressly forbids its members from diagnosing a public figure from afar.

Enough is enough. As I’ve argued before, an in-person analysis of Donald J. Trump would not reveal any hidden depths — his internal sonar could barely fathom the bottom of a sink — and these are exceptional, urgent times. Back in October, George T. Conway III, the conservative lawyer and husband of Kellyanne, wrote a long, devastating essay for The Atlantic, noting that Trump has all the hallmarks of narcissistic personality disorder. That disorder was dangerous enough during times of prosperity, jeopardizing the moral and institutional foundations of our country.

But now we’re in the midst of a global pandemic. The president’s pathology is endangering not just institutions, but lives.

Let’s start with the basics. First: Narcissistic personalities like Trump harbor skyscraping delusions about their own capabilities. They exaggerate their accomplishments, focus obsessively on projecting power, and wish desperately to win.

What that means, during this pandemic: Trump says we’ve got plenty of tests available, when we don’t. He declares that Google is building a comprehensive drive-thru testing website, when it isn’t. He sends a Navy hospital ship to New York and it proves little more than an excuse for a campaign commercial, arriving and sitting almost empty in the Hudson. A New York hospital executive calls it a joke.

Second: The grandiosity of narcissistic personalities belies an extreme fragility, their egos as delicate as foam. They live in terror of being upstaged. They’re too thin skinned to be told they’re wrong.

What that means, during this pandemic: Narcissistic leaders never have, as Trump likes to say, the best people. They have galleries of sycophants. With the exceptions of Drs. Anthony Fauci and Deborah Birx, Trump has surrounded himself with a Z-team of dangerously inexperienced toadies and flunkies — the bargain-bin rejects from Filene’s Basement — at a time when we require the brightest and most imaginative minds in the country.

Faced with a historic public health crisis, Trump could have assembled a first-rate company of disaster preparedness experts. Instead he gave the job to his son-in-law, a man-child of breathtaking vapidity. Faced with a historic economic crisis, Trump could have assembled a team of Nobel-prize winning economists or previous treasury secretaries. Instead he talks to Larry Kudlow, a former CNBC host.

Meanwhile, Fauci and Birx measure every word they say like old-time apothecaries, hoping not to humiliate the narcissist — never humiliate a narcissist — while discreetly correcting his false hopes and falsehoods. They are desperately attempting to create a safe space for our president, when the president should be creating a safer nation for all of us.

Third: Narcissistic personalities love nothing more than engineering conflict and sowing division. It destabilizes everyone, keeps them in control.

What that means, during this pandemic: Trump is pitting state against state for precious resources, rather than coordinating a national response. (“It’s like being on eBay,” complained Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York last week.) His White House is a petty palace of competing power centers. He picks fights with Democratic officials and members of the press, when all the public craves is comfort.

Narcissistic personalities don’t do comfort. They cannot fathom the needs of other hearts.

Fourth: Narcissistic personalities are vindictive. On a clear day, you can see their grudges forever.

What that means, during this pandemic: Trump is playing favorites with governors who praise him and punishing those who fail to give him the respect he believes he deserves. “If they don’t treat you right, don’t call,” he told Vice President Mike Pence.

His grudge match with New York is now especially lethal. When asked on Friday whether New York will have enough ventilators, Trump bluntly answered “No,” and then blamed the state.

And most relevant, as far as history is concerned: Narcissistic personalities are weak.

What that means, during this pandemic: Trump is genuinely afraid to lead. He can’t bring himself to make robust use of the Defense Production Act, because the buck would stop with him. (To this day, he insists states should be acquiring their own ventilators.) When asked about delays in testing, he said, “I don’t take responsibility at all.” During Friday’s news conference, he added the tests “we inherited were broken, were obsolete,” when this form of coronavirus didn’t even exist under his predecessor.

This sounds an awful lot like one of the three sentences that Homer Simpson swears will get you through life: “It was like that when I got here.”

Most people, even the most hotheaded and difficult ones, have enough space in their souls to set aside their anger in times of crisis. Think of Rudolph Giuliani during Sept. 11. Think of Andrew Cuomo now.

But every aspect of Trump’s crisis management has been annexed by his psychopathology. As Americans die, he boasts about his television ratings. As Americans die, he crows that he’s No. 1 on Facebook, which isn’t close to true.

But it is true that all eyes are on him. He’s got a captive audience, an attention-addict’s dream come to life. It’s just that he, like all narcissistic personalities, has no clue how disgracefully — how shamefully, how deplorably — he’ll be enshrined in memory.

Fraught

Since December I have had five minor surgeries. Although I thought I might not survive one of them (after a ghoulish week of fevers, nightmares, and retching that followed an oral bone graft), I have nonetheless emerged intact and much surprised by my physical strength and resilience.

I find, though, that I am filled with dread and am afraid I won’t recover from another kind of affliction that dogs me: one that tells me I might not be able to survive the hate and fear that infects Washington, a good many of our citizens, and untold others across the globe.

Since we installed in Washington a man and his coterie of sadists who reflect all that is dark and unholy within us, I have been made to question what in me could have helped birth such a tragedy. And I have been made to question something I have never given any thought to, much less lost sleep over — namely whether the democratic freedoms I have taken for granted could disappear in my lifetime or whether our republic would be sturdy enough to survive this grave wound.

I am haunted through my days and nights by images of hateful men (and women, sadly) determined to destroy the fragile threads that bind our world — since of course what happens here happens there…and there. But I have not felt like writing because I am not inclined to write about things unrelated to the peril we face; yet, my despair is so pervasive that I do not think I can offer much that would be of solace. Soon, though, I will hope to try and find some useful words.

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“…there is, instead, madness.”

“King George III isn’t exactly a hero of history,” writes NPR’s Colin Dwyer. “In most U.S. textbooks, he is portrayed as the British tyrant who lost the Colonies in the American Revolution. He’s scarcely more popular in his native U.K., where his bouts with mental illness late in life earned him the impolite epithet ‘Mad King.'”

This week in New York magazine, Andrew Sullivan writes brilliantly about our own mad king Donald, whose mental well-being he describes thus:

…there is the obvious question of the president’s mental and psychological health. I know we’re not supposed to bring this up — but it is staring us brutally in the face. I keep asking myself this simple question: If you came across someone in your everyday life who repeatedly said fantastically and demonstrably untrue things, what would you think of him? If you showed up at a neighbor’s, say, and your host showed you his newly painted living room, which was a deep blue, and then insisted repeatedly — manically — that it was a lovely shade of scarlet, what would your reaction be? If he then dragged out a member of his family and insisted she repeat this obvious untruth in front of you, how would you respond? If the next time you dropped by, he was still raving about his gorgeous new red walls, what would you think? Here’s what I’d think: This man is off his rocker. He’s deranged; he’s bizarrely living in an alternative universe; he’s delusional. If he kept this up, at some point you’d excuse yourself and edge slowly out of the room and the house and never return. You’d warn your other neighbors. You’d keep your distance. If you saw him, you’d be polite but keep your distance.

Sullivan goes on to say that “this is a fundamental reason why so many of us have been so unsettled, anxious, and near panic these past few months…. There is no anchor any more. At the core of the administration of the most powerful country on earth, there is, instead, madness.”

Until I read this piece, I hadn’t put it together for myself why I have felt so undone since the day the man was elected. It is not so much his odious agenda. As a left of left Democrat, the antipathy I feel towards a Republican worldview is at the level of marrow and sinew, yet I still have been able to go about my life when one of that persuasion has landed in the White House.

But with a pathological liar

…barging into your consciousness every hour of every day, you begin to get a glimpse of what it must be like to live in an autocracy of some kind. Every day in countries unfortunate enough to be ruled by a lone dictator, people are constantly subjected to the Supreme Leader’s presence, in their homes, in their workplaces, as they walk down the street. Big Brother never leaves you alone. His face bears down on you on every flickering screen. He begins to permeate your psyche and soul; he dominates every news cycle and issues pronouncements — each one shocking and destabilizing — round the clock. He delights in constantly provoking and surprising you, so that his monstrous ego can be perennially fed. And because he is also mentally unstable, forever lashing out in manic spasms of pain and anger, you live each day with some measure of trepidation. What will he come out with next? Somehow, he is never in control of himself and yet he is always in control of you.

It is this sense of being controlled by a force over which I feel little control that has turned me into someone I don’t quite recognize. On the one hand, I am aware that at times I have been made quite unwell. On the other, I am unslumbered and find myself in search of an opportunity to best help those whose lives have been — and will continue to be — violently upended by this madman and his handlers. Yesterday, in fact, I was reading about a call for Virginia residents who might like to serve in the state legislature. Hmm, I thought.

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Trumping God?

I have been following IPLEDGEAFALLEGIANCE for a while now and always find the author’s posts thoughtful, relevant — and humorous. You have to watch this brief clip on Trump talking about God (or not, as the case may be). It’s jaw-dropping.

ipledgeafallegiance

Image result for Donald trump in golf hathttp://www.cbn.com/cbnnews/Video-Embeds/2015/September/Donald-Trump-God-Is-The-Ultimate/

Above is a link to an amazing video featuring journalist David Brody of the Christian Broadcast Network and part of his interview with Donald Trump. In this short 52 second segment Mr. Brody asks Donald Trump the question: “Who is God to you?”

Mr. Trump’s (now President Trump) answer is priceless, in that it explains all we need to know about the depth of Mr. Trump’s thought processes when it comes to…well, trying to figure out what it is that our President thinks about…

Anyway, please click on or copy and paste the link above into your browser and see for yourself and then comment below…unless of course you find yourself speechless.

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“Trump’s Creeping Tyranny”

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By Robert Reich | December 6, 2016 | Photo Credit

On the evening of December 7, minutes after a local Indiana union leader, Chuck Jones, criticized Trump on CNN for falsely promising to keep Carrier jobs in the U.S., Trump tweeted, “Chuck Jones, who is President of United Steelworkers 1999, has done a terrible job representing workers. No wonder companies flee country!”

Since that tweet went out, Chuck Jones has received death threats, according to CNN.

A few days before, Boeing’s CEO Dennis Muilenberg was quoted in the Chicago Tribune gently chiding Trump for being against trade. Muilenberg noted that trade is essential to the U.S. economy, as reflected in the “large and growing percentage of our business” coming from international sales, including commercial jet orders from China.

Moments later, Trump tweeted: “Boeing is building a brand new 747 Air Force One for future presidents, but costs are out of control, more than $4 billion. Cancel order!” Later he added “We want Boeing to make a lot of money but not that much money.”

Boeing shares immediately took a hit. As it turns out, Boeing does not even have a $4 billion order to make Air Force One planes.

Trump doesn’t take kindly to anyone criticizing him – not journalists (whom he refers to as “dishonest,” “disgusting” and “scum” when they take him on), not corporate executives, not entertainers who satirize him, not local labor leaders, no one.

The President-elect’s tendency to go after people who criticize him by sending false and provocative statements to his 16 million twitter followers not only imperils those people and their organizations.

It also poses a clear and present danger to our democracy.

Democracy depends on the freedom to criticize those in power without fear of retribution.

No President or President-elect in history has ever publicly condemned individual citizens for criticizing him. That occurs in two-bit dictatorships intent on stamping out dissent.

No President or President-elect has ever bypassed the media and spoken directly to large numbers of his followers in order to disparage individual citizens who criticize him. That occurred in the fascist rallies of the 1930s.

America came closest to this in the 1950s when Senator Joseph McCarthy wrecked the lives of thousands of American citizens whom he arbitrarily and carelessly claimed were communists.

McCarthy’s reign of terror ended when a single man asked him publicly, during the televised hearings McCarthy was conducting, “have you no decency, sir?” In that moment, Americans began to see McCarthy for the tyrant he was.

McCarthy’s assistant was Roy Cohn, an attorney who perfected the art of character assassination. Roy Cohn was also one of Donald J. Trump’s mentors.

Trump’s capricious use of power to denigrate and even endanger his critics must end. He is not yet our President. When he becomes so and has far greater power, our freedom and our democracy could be gravely jeopardized.

We must join together to condemn these acts. Has Trump no decency?


ROBERT B. REICH is Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley and Senior Fellow at the Blum Center for Developing Economies. He served as Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration, for which Time magazine named him one of the ten most effective cabinet secretaries of the twentieth century. He has written fourteen books, including the best sellers Aftershock; The Work of Nations; Beyond Outrage; and Saving Capitalism, his most recent. He is also a founding editor of The American Prospect magazine, chairman of Common Cause, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and co-creator of the award-winning documentary, Inequality for All.