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Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Sympathy for the Donald?

Inasmuch as I believe Donald Trump did not want to lose the 2016 election to a woman – he does not want to lose anything to a woman – he also did not have the foresight to see that, as president, he'd have to get off his ass and do something.

After lamenting about how much easier his previous life was before he became president, and stating outright that being president is more difficult than he thought it would be, just to watch Trump’s behavior as merely another person, without any expectation of seeing anything in him beyond that, is to witness a simple, undeniable truth about him.

A critical part of the problem with the world's view of Donald Trump is that those analyzing and reporting on him regard him in a political context.

Perhaps the Goldwater Rule is responsible, at least in part. I'm no sigmund Freud, but my eyes don't deceive me; I know what I see.

American voters in 1964 were encouraged to take a long, hard look at presidential candidate Barry Goldwater. Fact magazine published a campaign ad featuring the polled disapproval of Goldwater’s by 1,189 psychiatrists.

Goldwater lost the election. but won a libel suit against the editor of the magazine that ran the ad. But it also resulted in the so-called Goldwater Rule, in which American Psychological Association members are forever ethically bound to not endorse candidates in this way again. It would be considered both inappropriate and unprofessional.

The lawsuit itself also had a somewhat similar chilling effect on how news could be reported. Unaccredited psychological professionals no longer gave their input, so any reporters making claims about anyone's mental state did so at their own peril.

Since then, barely a peep has come from journalists intent on reporting and keeping their jobs by not bankrupting the publishers that employ them. Anyway, it's a matter best left to late night TV hosts who somehow, in their own way, make stomaching chronically angry personalities like Trump's possible.

However, as a fiercely independent-and unemployed- news junkie/writer I am not bound by the wishes of any publisher for my actions. I am, therefore, both free and more than willing to speak out for what's right.

Regarding Trump, if you look at him as a person, and a troubled person at that, you will see the separation between the guy who is president, and the guy who just wants to play one on TV. The latter is the Real Donald Trump.

Some of what I'm pointing out here I've only seen expressed by two other writers.* One wrote an article entitled something like "Trump: what you see is what you get." The other wrote an eloquent piece with greater detail on this matter entitled “The Madness of King Donald”.

The point of the first article was that there really is no depth, no substance to Donald Trump. All of the inexplicable, idiotic behaviors and the apparently obscene, rude, and pointless views he has ever held are truly all there is to Donald Trump.

The second article, as the title suggests, is that the guy is just plain nuts, and there's a long history of tyrannical rulers who've displayed their craziness first.

No matter how well Donald Trump’s ego deludes him, he’ll never be the first, nor the “greatest ever” goofball to appear in the history books. It's almost like looking back for hundreds of years on Trump's genealogical tree.

Though I'm at a loss to figure out why, not enough emphasis is placed on the extreme insecurity that Donald Trump embodies. Aside from his near-paralyzing sense of fear, which runs a close second, insecurity is the driving force behind everything he does.

Nothing that Donald Trump does is done for any reason except to exercise power solely for his own personal gratification. It simply must make him feel better about himself, however he defines that at any given moment.

For someone who has all the money he will ever need or want, all of the things he could ever need or want, there is really little for him to want beyond outright glorification.

Donald Trump sees himself born into this world as a poor old sod who rose to prominence by virtue of his superior craftiness, shrewdness and wit. He then, rightfully became king. And, by definition, "king" to Donald Trump means having everybody wait on him, literally, hand and foot. It's what he's become used to, it's what he can't live without. Poor old sod.

In his business life, he could get away with it. In the world of politics, he cannot, and that's what he means when he says being president is harder than his previous life.

So why did Trump run for president anyway? It clearly wasn't to make America great again. Simple; he had nothing better to do and the call of infinite presidential glory was irresistible. In so many words, it sounded good.

Today, having won the election months ago and with the realities of the job staring him in the face, he can't help but flinch.

But with each quick look back at his victory last November, preferably coupled with a prideful, self-satisfying but awkward to anyone stuck nearby, gives Donald the confidence booster he so sorely needs.

Now that Trump needn't show the world the charming candidate adorned with a bright red ball cap and bursting with promises, Trump makes no effort to hide his real side. It's visible for all the world to see, and it ain't pretty.

He creates situations whereby he blatantly contradicts others who bear his message. This includes his press spokesman/whipping boy Sean Spicer who doubles as a sponge for Trump’s constant flow of vitriol.

But Trump’s not above putting his second in command, Mike Pence, in the hot seat, either. Chances are, it's just a reminder to Pence that he is, indeed, only second in command.

Given that Trump believes he's his own, best advisor, and that the conclusions he draws are the right ones, even in the face of all evidence to the contrary, his administration is, by design, largely devoid of appointees.

It's no wonder that his wife will not join him in Washington DC. No sane person would go out of their way to be with a man who screams, rages, and displays his ire in public.

I'll leave it up to the imagination to wonder what kind of heavy-handed bastard Trump turns into behind closed doors. Does he suddenly turn into a gentleman and model husband and father-of-the-year finalist? Not likely.

In the absence of those whose two favorite words are "yes, sir", in that order, somebody must be there to take Trump's angry energy. And who is downhill from it all? His wife, Melania, the low profile First Lady.

You remember her: She's (God forbid!) the immigrant who reminded Trump in public to put his hand over his heart as the national anthem was being played. He was likely preoccupied with thoughts of his next round of golf.

Yes, that's the Donald Trump the world now sees and, now that he's king, that's all that matters to him. Now, if only he can figure out how to get someone to do all the work of governing while he remains king.

“Too bad we gave up the English system of government all those years ago,” he thinks, “they really know how to treat royalty there.“

Back in the real world, Trump has lost the collective support of all House Democrats and is working his damnedest to do the same with his fellow Republicans.

But once he does, it won't be his fault, you see. When the fruits of his behavior hit the fan, as it's now doing, his rule will come to an abrupt, albeit bittersweet halt.

Bitter in that the eyes of the world will no longer be fixed on him. Sweet because he'll still have a Secret Service detail at his disposal while he gets back to his real calling; golf.

Inevitably, he'll be asked to look back and remark on his broken and short-lived presidency. In a nutshell, he'll offer up a face-saving tale of victimization, highlighted by leakers and fake news,
which he'll ultimately blame on "the system.”

"The system," of course, is simply some quixotic paradox that exists only in his mind. It's something he is doomed to never find, though his life has been spent in search of it.

One day, despite his many flaws, Donald Trump will be remembered as someone people once really, truly adored. It may also be remembered that most of those people were stubborn and misguided, drawn perhaps to a supposed underdog.

He appealed to many who felt better understood by him more than any politician ever had. Given the political climate, it's reasonable people might bet on a dark horse.

But there's another aspect of Donald Trump for which I believe he'll be remembered, and that is mental illness.

Ever since the culmination of the last year's campaign season, I've recognized it in him. The defensive tone of his words, and the childish, pre-emptive nicknames he constantly used in reference to his competitors.

His use of childhood phrasing at the end of his sentences, e.g. “...and everyone knows it.” His predisposition toward sudden mood swings, and tantrums, as evidenced by reports of his raging at his staff and singling out certain TV celebrities who scorned him.

As many already know, mental illness can strike anyone regardless of financial, social, or physical status. Anyone is vulnerable, including Donald Trump.

Just as he displays symptoms of narcissistic personality disorder, I believe it's up to professionals like psychologists and psychiatrists to finally speak up.

Drop the professional gag rule and make an exception; you're smart people, smart enough to come up with a plausible reason why it's okay to do so in this case.

Consider this:

Now-former FBI director James Comey conscientiously spoke up about reopening Hillary Clinton’s email investigation ten days before last November’s election.

While it likely contributed to her campaign loss, Comey did so knowing he was the only person who could disclose that information. The gravity of his announcement - or decision to not announce - a development of such importance to his country's future he felt would make him, and he alone responsible for the consequences.

He knew the gravity of his decision could lead to many deaths, of innocents and combatants alike. There may well be shakeups in the world order and more.

So APA members, you've got a responsibility to the citizens of the world, the same world you, your family and everyone else shares. Please take the initiative and do something.

Anyway, despite Comey’s best intentions, it turns out that Hillary Clinton, with all her international diplomatic experience, would have been the better person to handle the job of president.

Given Donald Trump’s emotional and mental shortcomings, his administration was doomed from the start. But the subject here transcends politics; it's about mental health.

Donald Trump is a conflict-oriented person, as evidenced by, among other things, his penchant for filing lawsuits at the first sign of resistance from those with whom he's done or is doing business with.

Given his impressive corps of attorneys, it's not surprising so many lawsuits are pending still from his previous exploits in the private sector.

Now that he's involved in politics, however, a new evolution of Trump’s conflict-oriented nature has emerged.

Audaciously flexing his newfound political muscle, he continually offends Congress and, in so doing, all Americans by trivializing those issues set before him.

When he's not dabbling in behaviors that even experienced TV scriptwriters might consider inconceivable behavior for an American president:

Walling off the entire US border? Give top-secret intel directly to Russian diplomats in a closed-door meeting in the Oval Office? Nah. Nobody’d believe that.

He continually embarrasses his colleagues’ and pushes their trust to the limit with contradictory explanations of his exploits. This he downplays by saying that he “likes to improvise,” or that his “thinking has evolved.”

As president, Trump feeds his insatiable insecurity by betraying his subordinates and lording his power over them, yet still craving the loyalty he so desperately wants.

Despite having the upper hand now, he's up against a system he'll never defeat.

Again, that's when his story about unfair treatment and being undermined by some traitor who leaked information, disseminated fake news, etc. etc.

His insecurities will be aggravated and, once in that special state of upset, he'll finally feel content again. Only in his absence will the country be able to repair itself and it's relationship to the rest of the world, as well.

At least, however, the world will have a greater awareness and, hopefully, a better understanding of mental illness and it's profound effects on everyone whose lives are touched by it.

* Now it's four; I've added two more, below:

So Much For The Goldwater Rule:

Here are two related articles worth reading on this subject I have since come across writing this post yesterday.

The first is an op/ed by David Brooks entitled When the World Is Led by a Child.

In it, Brooks addresses Trump's infantile, childish and, at best, sophomoric behaviors in greater detail.

The second is also an opinion piece entitled Shrinks Define Dangers of Trump Presidency, by Hara Estroff Marano. It was posted on Psychology Today's online site on April 20, 2017.

In it, the findings of a panel of mental health experts who met at Yale to discuss the president's mental fitness are presented. Their answers may not surprise you.

Perhaps the best part about this group is their consensus that they've chosen to act out of a sense of responsibility for everyone's best interests, Goldwater Rule be damned.

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