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Tuesday, May 16, 2017

The Random-Flash President

It has always been starkly evident to anyone with a lick of sense that Trump is a blustering, bragging, overgrown baby, a child's mind in a man's body.  Finally, it seems, the oh-so-smart mainstream press of this overstimulated era has figured it out, too.  Duh.

Excerpt from the New York Times opinion piece, "When the World Is Led by a Child," by David Brooks:
At certain times Donald Trump has seemed like a budding authoritarian, a corrupt Nixon, a rabble-rousing populist or a big business corporatist.

But as Trump has settled into his White House role, he has given a series of long interviews, and when you study the transcripts it becomes clear that fundamentally he is none of these things.

At base, Trump is an infantalist. There are three tasks that most mature adults have sort of figured out by the time they hit 25. Trump has mastered none of them. Immaturity is becoming the dominant note of his presidency, lack of self-control his leitmotif. . . .

Which brings us to the reports that Trump betrayed an intelligence source and leaked secrets to his Russian visitors. From all we know so far, Trump didn’t do it because he is a Russian agent, or for any malevolent intent. He did it because he is sloppy, because he lacks all impulse control, and above all because he is a 7-year-old boy desperate for the approval of those he admires.

The Russian leak story reveals one other thing, the dangerousness of a hollow man.

Our institutions depend on people who have enough engraved character traits to fulfill their assigned duties. But there is perpetually less to Trump than it appears. When we analyze a president’s utterances we tend to assume that there is some substantive process behind the words, that it’s part of some strategic intent.

But Trump’s statements don’t necessarily come from anywhere, lead anywhere or have a permanent reality beyond his wish to be liked at any given instant.

We’ve got this perverse situation in which the vast analytic powers of the entire world are being spent trying to understand a guy whose thoughts are often just six fireflies beeping randomly in a jar.

“We badly want to understand Trump, to grasp him,” David Roberts writes in Vox. “It might give us some sense of control, or at least an ability to predict what he will do next. But what if there’s nothing to understand? What if there is no there there?”

And out of that void comes a carelessness that quite possibly betrayed an intelligence source, and endangered a country.


Davis said...

David Brooks is a very sensible man.

Russ Manley said...

Seems so, yes.

Frank said...

What I don't understand is how more Americans did not see this man-child for what he is before casting their ballots. I can't imagine that hate for Obama, despising social welfare programs, disillusionment over the Affordable Care Act and the consumption of vast quantities of beer while watching NFL games could possibly be enough to make anyone choose this imbecile over Hillary.

Russ Manley said...

I agree. He is in truth all that he appeared to be during the campaign, and for years before: a rude noise with hair on it, nothing more.

And yet that is exactly what 62 million Americans wanted, and have now got. And are deliriously happy with. I just got an email from a distant cousin - female and 20 years older than me, a college graduate and retired teacher who *ought* to have better sense - raving with delight over Trump's sock-it-to-em speech to the Muslims.

Which illustrates the YUGE problem facing this country: even if, as seems more likely by the week, Trump is removed from office, or bails -- all those many millions who elected him and think he's great are not going away. So how does the country ever move forward with so great a divide between two sides?

Not that either side is perfect, not that there isn't enough blame to go around for all our various woes. But frankly I despair of seeing this division healed in my lifetime. Things are too far gone, in so many ways, I don't see how the sane middle of the road will ever be regained.

Of course I could be wrong and hope I am.

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