Donald Trump Is a Very Stable Scumbag Genius
Now that soon-to-be ex President Donald Trump no longer represents such a clear and present danger, perhaps we can look at him with some equanimity. Maybe we can try to understand what made him such an extravagantly atypical President of the United States. From the beginning of his incredible five-year run he seemed grossly unsuitable, and he still does. He lacks formation, intelligence, honesty, humility, aplomb, tact, humanity, generosity, elegance, class, social skills, diplomacy, discretion, wit, grace… Feel free to add your own terms to the description. Ironically, for one of the country’s most (self) acclaimed businessmen, he even lacks business acumen, having accumulated a long rap sheet of bankrupcies. Some well-informed White House observers have suggested that he lacks even sanity.
Is this to say that he’s good for nothing? Certainly not. He’s extremely good at what he’s good at. It took him successfully to the White House for four years and a near reelection, against very long odds. We have to give him credit for that. How did he manage it?
How Does the Kingfisher Manage It?
How does a kingfisher so effortlessly manage to drop from a branch like an arrow, enter the water and emerge with a fish in his beak? You don’t know? He doesn’t either. He was just born to fish. Can he ride a bicycle, compose a poem, command a platoon or run a meeting in the White House situation room? No, of course not. He can only do what kingfishers do: catch fish with amazing grace, build nests in cavities, impregnate queenfishers and feed the little ones. Is he intelligent? No, of course not. His brain weighs less than a microchip. He doesn’t do more because he’s incapable of conscious thought, but what little he does, he does astonishingly well, almost to perfection. In his way he’s a very limited genius, an avian savant.
Dr. A. Snyder described some tentative aspects of the savant mind in 2009:
No widely accepted cognitive theory explains savants’ combination of talent and deficit. It has been suggested that individuals with autism are biased towards detail-focused processing and that this cognitive style predisposes individuals either with or without autism to savant talents. Another hypothesis is that savants hyper-systemize, thereby giving an impression of talent… Also, the attention to detail of savants is a consequence of enhanced perception or sensory hypersensitivity in these unique individuals.(Source: The Economist, April 16, 2009)
I’m not going to suggest that Donald Trump is a birdbrain, but he does share some remarkable traits with the kingfisher and the savants. He has one astonishing talent. The rest is deficit. Though he lacks the intelligence and the attention span necessary for rational thought, normal social relations or running a White House, he is a genius when it comes to appealing to unlettered Americans in a presidential election campaign. For that mission he has it all: the bravado, the arrogance, the swagger, the down-home knee-slapping coarseness, the elusive adaptability of the camaleon, the je ne sais quoi of lying and boasting effortlessly, of insulting intelligence, evading the point, changing the subject and, of course, insulting his opponents.
No other president in American history has brought the presidency so low, reducing the discourse to cheeseburgers and reality shows, and converting his country into a laughing stock on the world stage, feared not for its awesome power but for the perilous ineptitude of its commander in chief. Nonetheless, he is the undisputed sociopath thought leader of almost half of American voters. He is the lowbrow savant of American politics. He can convert his fraudulent christianity into a political power base. He can lead the American lemmings to the gaping sea. Can he also memorize 600 telephone numbers?
Aside from what he’s undeniably good at, do we need to be reminded of the rest, of the unmistakable signs of ineptitude and mental deficiency? What to say of a public figure who stands behind a lectern and proclaims to the entire country: “Throughout my life my two greatest assets have been mental stability and being, like, really smart.” Is it possible that he’s, like, far from really smart?
Trump’s performances in the White House press room and lawn alone are enough to suggest that he should perhaps be institutionalized. This is the President of the United States speaking: “(Adriana Huffington) is unattractive both inside and out. I fully understand why her former husband left her for a man–he made a good decision.”
Trump’s choice of friends and allies is another indicator of his questionable judgment, starting with his bosom buddy, Vladimir Putin. The choice of this friend to cherish and protect makes at least half of the American population ask themselves, “What has Putin got on Trump?” Vladimir Putin is a former director of the KGB and a chess player. He’s not going to have the wit to bug the luxurious hotel suites where he invites Trump to stay?
Then there’s Nigel Farage, perhaps something of a savant himself. Farage is the indifferently-educated, right-wing British politician who orchestrated–along with other UK reactionaries and the help of the American big-data firm, Cambridge Analytics–the Brexit campaign that untimely jerked the British out of the European Community, leaving them at the mercy of their American friends, led by President Donald Trump. One wonders if Farage ever bothered to check the attrition rate among Trump’s White House staff.
Let’s Be Fair
President Trump is not solely responsible for his smash-and-grab world view. He’s had a lot of help. He came from a dystopian family that sent him to military school and instilled in him crass real-estate-operator values and a bloated sense of his own worth. That alone is enough to create a ruthless, unprincipled adult, but the American social milieu wasn’t much better. His young manhood transpired during the Johnson/Nixon/Reagan era, times of consummate American opportunism, predation and mediocrity. Let’s not pretend that Trump created America. America created Trump.
Now he is on his way out, but America marches on. There will be a new president, the product of a “less bad” dynamic. Will he–will anybody–be able to clean up the monumental mess President Trump has deliberately left in his wake? It’s too late for the 240,000 Covid-19 dead (four times the American lives lost in the Vietnam war), and environmental recovery has been set back four critical years. Fundamental government agencies have been effectively dismantled and whatever good will was left in America is long gone. No, Donald Trump is not solely responsible for all this , but he assuredly did his ignominious part.
While we’re being fair, let’s pose the vital remaining question: Will President Donald J. Trump be held responsible–before a court of law–for his most egregiously damaging actions while in the White House. The court might start by looking at the ongoing series of homicidal lies that Trump employed to play down the Coronavirus pandemic in order to favor his own reelection possibilities.