I’m not a psychologist.
I took one or two general classes on the subject during my undergrad
years. So I don’t know the proper
diagnosis, the scientific name, or the proper designation for what ails
President Trump. Some say malignant
narcissism. Some say an inferiority
complex. Some say a simple lack of
maturity, or a dangerous cocktail of many of those conditions. Again, I’ll leave the professional diagnosis
for those who know better.
But I am a student and teacher of history. Though my fascination has admittedly waned in recent years, I used to be thoroughly enamored with the American presidency – the officeholders as well as the mystique of the office itself. And I know that every president has had his peculiarities and quirks. I know that some presidents have been personally mean-spirited, some paranoid and vengeful, and some men of disrepute. And some, like Andrew Jackson, managed to embody all of those things.
But I think we are kidding ourselves, particularly on the
right, if we don’t acknowledge that there is something off about President
Trump. I don’t care how much you want to
applaud his bluntness, praise his willingness to “fight,” or laugh at his
antics. At some point shouldn’t people
of good character refuse to pretend that it is normal for the sitting president
to say this a couple days before the 75th anniversary of the D-Day
Or this a couple days after the 75th anniversary
of those landings:
This is not normal behavior for a sitting president. Not in any way. Listen, I don’t have any use for either Donny
or Bette. I don’t agree with their
politics, I have always been confused at their relative popularity and
celebrity status, and don’t doubt for a second that they were unfairly
criticizing the president before he retaliated on Twitter.
But none of that justifies the President of the United States of America using his unrivaled platform and bully pulpit to…well…bully American citizens who may disagree with him. When has that ever been okay? I am firmly of the belief that President Obama stoked an immense amount of division needlessly during his time in office, and have even written recently that our only hope of unity in this country requires that he go away.
But President Obama was not rage-tweeting in the wee hours of the morning, calling his critics “total losers” and “washed up psychos” from his official platform. If he had, the right would have rightly condemned him for violating decency norms and the standard expectations of dignity for those holding the office of President. It disappoints me beyond words to see so many of those same folks actually enjoying and applauding President Trump’s decimation of those norms and expectations all in the name of political payback.
I understand that Michelle Obama’s infamous claim that her husband and his administration “went high” when their opponents “went low” was laughably absurd. The left goes low. They accused Mitt Romney of being the devil incarnate for heaven’s sake.
But my question is if the right, so many of whom are
cackling with glee as they watch Trump’s petulant antics these days, thinks
going lower than low is really a winning long-term strategy. And to be clear, I don’t mean “winning” for
Republicans; I mean “winning” for all of us.