Sunday, March 19, 2017

The Disappearing President

Maureen Dowd's analyses of presidential character are always interesting. She uses Freudian and Shakespearean analogies and, for students of literature like herself, she makes interesting reading. She cottoned on early to Oedipal issues in George W. Bush, as the son vainly tried to live up to his father's expectations. In yesterday's New York Times she turned her attention to Donald Trump. She wrote:

Consumed by his paranoia about the deep state, Donald Trump has disappeared into the fog of his own conspiracy theories. As he rages in the storm, Lear-like, howling about poisonous fake news, he is spewing poisonous fake news.

He trusts his beliefs more than facts. So many secrets, so many plots, so many shards of gossip swirl in his head, there seems to be no room for reality.

His grandiosity, insularity and scamming have persuaded Trump to believe he can mold his own world. His distrust of the deep state, elites and eggheads — an insecurity inflamed by Steve Bannon — makes it hard for him to trust his own government, or his own government’s facts.

Trump's disdain for facts is particularly disturbing: 

According to CNN’s Jeff Zeleny, Trump got furious reading a Breitbart report that regurgitated a theory by conservative radio host Mark Levin that Barack Obama and his allies had staged a “silent coup.”

It is surpassingly strange that the president would not simply pick up the phone and call his intelligence chiefs before spitting out an inflammatory accusation with no proof, just as it was bizarre that Trump shrugged off the regular intelligence briefings after he was elected. He preferred living in his own warped world.

And Trump's minions -- who were hired for their loyalty, not their brains -- make fools of themselves trying to explain Trump to the world:

Sean Spicer offered a shaky Jenga tower of media citations to back up the president, including the contention of Fox’s Judge Andrew Napolitano that Obama had used GCHQ, a British intelligence agency, to spy on Trump.

But the world isn' t buying what they're selling:

In a rare public statement, the GCHQ called the claim “utterly ridiculous.”
Fox News also demurred, with Shepard Smith saying it “knows of no evidence of any kind that the now president of the United States was surveilled at any time, in any way. Full stop.”

Even Devin Nunes, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, gave up the Sisyphean effort of defending Trump’s tripe. He said that if you took Trump’s remarks “literally” — as we expect to do with our commander in chief’s words — “clearly the president was wrong.”

Only those who live in Trumpworld believe him. And, as the believers fall away, Trump diminishes himself with each passing day. He is the disappearing president. 

Image: Pinterest


Lorne said...

I always know that a certain polarity is fracturing, Owen, when I see dissent from that propaganda organ of the far-right, Fox News. Can capitulation or impeachment be far behind?

Owen Gray said...

At some point, things are going to dissolve for Trump, Lorne. Nixon knew that the game was up when Barry Goldwater told him it was time to go.

rumleyfips said...

When Trump's own spokespeople tell us not to believe anything he says, what will the Generals do when they are given a ridiculous , rage caused order ?

Owen Gray said...

An excellent question, rumley. The Nuremberg trials set the standard for legitimate military orders.

Steve said...

In a world ruled by the Warren Report and the non investigation of 911, Trump's parinoia seems logical to me. The five eyes exist.

Dana said...

I wish I had a sense that the US understood what it has inflicted upon the world. But I'm not even sure they quite yet understand what it is they have inflicted upon themselves. Many op-ed writers are critical, some are utterly condemnatory, but beneath that seems to remain the always comforting effervescent mantra about the system working so there's nothing to be truly concerned about.

Look closely at what has been damaged and destroyed after the first 2 months and then try to project a path forward that does not include war, either civil or international.

Very dark and perilous times ahead.

Owen Gray said...

Paranoia destroys critical thinking, Steve. And critical thinking is not Trump's strong suite.

Owen Gray said...

I agree, Dana. These are dark and perilous times. And the fact that Americans can't see themselves as others see them makes the times even more perilous.

The Mound of Sound said...

This is a president in need of a stay in some rehab facility for intensive cognitive therapy. His incapacity for reality seems to be akin to that of a junkie in fierce denial. He can't absorb all of this nonsense from Breitbart, Fox and Friends, Alec Jones and others without first having mastered lying to himself. Merkel was on the mark when, in early January, she told the Christian Democratic executive that it was "interesting to see the thought environment he inhabits." She added her view that the 70-year old Trump would be "unable to mature" to become a statesman. Hard to argue with her on either score.

I've always been drawn to looking at scenarios or events from various angles and, from that, trying to predict possible outcomes. Trump defies that sort of logic-driven analysis. The future, not only of America but also its allies and the rest of the world, has become a crap shoot governed by Trump's headlong plunges into groundless nonsense and his resulting irrationality.

Most ideologues and demagogues tend to be reactionary but Trump adds ignorance, delusion and compulsion to the mix. It's no wonder Bannon has achieved such control over the Cheeto Benito.

Anonymous said...

Notice the fake left is outraged over Trump's accusations that Obama wiretapped him because he presented no evidence for it. But they believe Intelligence Agency spooks who say Russia hacked the election when they provided no evidence for it.

But here are the facts. Obama may have wiretapped Trump on the basis that he was working with the Russians (which is an actual basis: if someone is suspected of being in collusion with foreign agents, a top secret wiretap can be put in place from a top secret court order.) That is the 'deep state' IA agitprop (and the never-ending campaign rhetoric): Trump is a Russian mole.

As for the idea of Russians hacking the election, this falls apart with a little critical thinking. Hacking the email account of a top DNC corporate lobbyist is not hacking an election. (No hacking of voting machines; not even dissemination of propaganda like a typical CIA black op on an election of a foreign government; just leaking of facts.) The fake news media buried the Podesta Wikileaks during the campaign, in any case, running D for Hill. Wikileaks came out and said they were from sources inside the DNC (disgusted with what was going on,) not Russia.

The idea that Trump is Putin's puppet doesn't make any sense either. (From a perspective of critical thinking.) If Putin was a Soviet leader attempting to turn America into a communist dictatorship this conspiracy theory would have some measure of logical basis. But considering Russia has been a right-wing oligarchy like the US for the past 25 years, with no world-dominating ideological agenda, it is senseless.

It's funny what some people consider critical thinking these days. The only criteria being that a particular bit of partisan rhetoric makes for a good political weapon.

I'll think I'll stick to the plain old-fashion version...

(If the fake left works hard enough, they can help IA spooks overthrow the democratically-elected American president, bring back the TPP, NAFTA and free-trade globalization AND revive the Cold War with Russia! Doesn't it feel good to finally stand for something after 40 years of nothing?)


Dana said...

I'm not going to subject myself to this nonsense any more, Owen. Let me know somehow if you decide not to accommodate lunatics.

The Mound of Sound said...

MAGA, you deliberately overlook that one critical point - Trump is a chronic, pathological liar. He lies about everything. He did that before he sought the Republican nomination two years ago. He lied throughout the campaign season. He's been lying ever since.

So, before you scorn the fake news or the fake left, deal with the fake reality president. Donald Trump is what matters and he's a lunatic who cannot discern reality from delusion.When he denounces news outlets as fake, that's the credibility equivalent of a double negative.

Your inability to deal with that starting problem renders everything you write palpable, irrelevant bullshit. You're the last person who ought to challenge anyone else on critical thinking.

Tal Hartsfeld said...

You know President Trump is a "Native New Yorker" don't you? (Paraphrasing the song-title of the 1977 Odyssey hit)

Hardly puts one in a "New York state of mind" when one ponders that one.

Owen Gray said...

It appears to me, Mound, that Trump's grasp on reality is slipping. Now that Tillerson is talking about a pre-emeptive strike on North Korea, I wonder if Trump should be hauled away to the funny farm before it's too late.

Owen Gray said...

This is getting tiresome, MAGA.

Anonymous said...

"Trump is a chronic, pathological liar."

Yes, of course. This is a prerequisite for being an American president since you Baby Boomers voted in the neocon/neoliberal era 40 years ago. (How else can Robber Baron economic reforms be sold except as a bill of goods from liars in public places?)

E.g., Obomba promised to end the wars; won a Nobel Peace prize; expanded the wars from 2 to 7 interventions; spread terrorism throughout the Middle East; mass murdered Muslim civilians to create more terrorists to bomb.

After he milked the Middle East for as much as he could get for the Military Industrial Complex, he set his sights on Ukraine and Russia. The US orchestrated the 2014 Ukrainian coup/revolution and started talking Cold War revival with Russia (a news arms race obviously very good biz for the MIC.)

Obama said the TPP would create jobs and wealth. Bought up toxic assets from looting bankers who got left holding the bag after the 'music stopped.' (They obviously purchased toxic-asset insurance on top of prosecution insurance.) Etc. Etc.

Please show me a president since Reagan who wasn't a compulsive liar and con man? I'm supposed to get hysterical about this particular liar and con man because upper-crust barbarians are hysterical over loosing out on free-trade outsourcing looting revenues?

I'm actually rather enjoying their misery. Time to throw another human Molotov Cocktail on the barbie! Let's get this party started! Toast some marshmallows! Burn baby burn!


Owen Gray said...

Enough, already. MAGA. Sweeping generalizations don't make an argument. You've outlived your welcome.

John B. said...

Putting the grab on and shielding money are intrinsically sufficient motivation. Anything that involves world domination is incidental.

Owen Gray said...

As Keith Olbermann said of Trump some time ago, John, "The man is not well."

Anonymous said...

Blogger Dana said...
I'm not going to subject myself to this nonsense any more, Owen. Let me know somehow if you decide not to accommodate lunatics.

Enough, already. MAGA. Sweeping generalizations don't make an argument. You've outlived your welcome.

I don't agree with MAGA but his arguments are not hate filled or off the wall.
In the interest of free speech he should be allowed to post.


Owen Gray said...

I've given him -- and I'm assuming it's him -- lots of space for free speech, TB. But, like Mr. Trump, he deals in wild generalizations. There are other outlets for his arguments. It's not just a question of quantity. It's a question of quality. Free speech poorly exercised is merely ranting.