To Comfort The Afflicted
And Afflict The Comfortable

To Comfort The Afflicted And Afflict The Comfortable

Sunday, February 28, 2021

Observercast

A Madman In Our Midst

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BY VERN TURNER

There has been, over the last several months, a cascade of articles published by psychiatrists and psychologists who list the symptoms of Donald Trump’s behavior and speech patterns as defining someone who is a psychopath, or someone suffering from some sort of progressive dementia. Below are some excerpts from a blog written by a professor in Indiana, Dr. Sheila Kennedy.

Americans are being “governed” – if you can dignify what is coming from the White House as governing – by a boy with a nuclear toy. [If there were any remaining doubts, Michael Wolff’s new book should dispel them.]

Who among us would ever have anticipated having an occupant of the Oval Office tweeting “mine is bigger than yours” at another, equally demented, world leader? [Do you suppose we could settle this by putting the two of them in an examining room, and measuring their “parts”?]

I used to attribute Trump’s unbelievable lack of self-awareness to privilege. We all know people whose money or power insulates them from contact with people who will tell them the truth; the longer their isolation from ridicule or dissent, the less grounded they become. But I think Charles Pierce has a more accurate evaluation of the problem. 

Pierce’s column analyzed Trump’s recent interview with New York Times reporter Michael Schmidt. Schmidt had intercepted Trump on a golf course, where there are no aides to constrain the free flow of what Trump apparently regards as sentences, and reaction to that interview has been shock and [terrified] awe.

Pierce dismissed criticisms of Schmidt’s conduct of the interview as irrelevant to what it exposed:

In my view, the interview is a clinical study of a man in severe cognitive decline, if not the early stages of outright dementia.

“Over the past 30 years, I’ve seen my father and all of his siblings slide into the shadows and fog of Alzheimer’s Disease. [The president’s father developed Alzheimer’s in his 80s.] In 1984, Ronald Reagan debated Walter Mondale in Louisville and plainly had no idea where he was. [If someone on the panel had asked him, he’d have been stumped.] Not long afterwards, I was interviewing a prominent Alzheimer’s researcher for a book I was doing, and he said, “I saw the look on his face that I see every day in my clinic … ”

In this interview, the president is only intermittently coherent. He talks in semi-sentences and is always groping for something that sounds familiar, even if it makes no sense whatsoever and even if it blatantly contradicts something he said two minutes earlier. To my ears, anyway, this is more than the president’s well-known allergy to the truth. This is a classic coping mechanism employed when language skills are coming apart.

Pierce gives several examples from the transcript of the interview – boasts that embarrass rational people, non-sequiturs that most observers [reasonably enough] attribute to ignorance, and Trump’s trademark, repellant grandiosity, which Pierce sees as the desperation of a man who is losing the ability to understand the world around him.

This is but a sample. Other professional people, albeit without a first-hand examination of the patient, have gone to more “complex” analyses that include such disturbing words as paranoid, pathologically narcissistic, delusional and other terms of equal or greater impact value. So, how does a pathological liar – added to all these other traits of a madman – get himself into the most powerful chair in the world?

It begins with citizens saying things like, “My vote doesn’t count,” or “The system is rigged,” or “Both parties are the same,” or “All politicians are the same and they all lie.” OK. Some parts of all of these memes are true. So, who is to blame for that? We are, that’s who.

George Carlin used to do a very funny bit about voting. He told us he didn’t vote because he didn’t want to be responsible for the idiots who end up in office. The irony, of course, is profound. We the people have allowed ourselves to become lazy and ignorant about our national and local politics.

Just voter turnout numbers are enough to validate that statement. I used to be a poll judge in my small, conservative district in central Texas. For local elections, we were thrilled to see 20% of the registered voters show up. In 2008, we saw almost 75% turn out, but for the following mid-term elections, it was back down to the mid-30s.

What all this says is that a minority of the people are picking the representatives for the majority. Guess what you get when that voting minority has an agenda that is self-serving and counter to the overall good of the town, state or country?

In today’s USA, we’re seeing a profound takeover of the government by the extreme right who, ironically, still pass themselves off as conservative. They are not conservative about anything except preserving their re-election funding from their donors. That means the donors are calling the shots.

In my previous books, I’ve described the lives of David and Charles Koch, briefly, [Jane Mayer does a better job in her book Dark Money] and shown how sinister these people really are with regard to democracy and our way of life. Their view of our country is so narrow that it would easily pass through the eye of a very small needle. Those are the donors who are wagging the dog of our elected officials.

The Tea Party idiots are perfect examples of what happens when a political movement is hijacked by really big money. Look how much damage that cabal of fools did to not only the Republican Party and conservatism, but also the entire government. Their mindless sprint toward fiscal idiocy has nearly brought our government to a halt with millions losing their means of survival. This is what fascist oligarchies look like.

President Trump tweeted to the world that he was indeed mentally stable. But that wasn’t enough. He had to remind us that he was also a genius.

When I stopped laughing my ass off, I felt a pang of true sadness. The sadness I feel is for my friends and acquaintances who actually fell for Trump’s line of bullshit and false hopes and bizarre promises to vote for him. I feel even more sorrow for my country and the vast majority of good, solid citizens who have to share the burden of our embarrassment over having perhaps the worst person in the world as our national leader.

This disgraceful and, perhaps, psychotic presidency must be ended as soon as possible. The bad news, until the 2018 elections, is that some extremely backward ideologue would inherit the oval office.

Mike Pence proved to all of Indiana that he was a dreadful governor with an agenda that impacted the majority of his constituents in harmful ways. He’d do the same as president. If Pence gets swept up in the coming tsunami of scandals, that leaves us with Paul Ryan, perhaps the most dangerous fiscal vulture in our history as president. These are not great prospects.

In the end, we the people had better learn our lessons on participative democracy while we still can. It was always there for us. The founders must have had their fingers crossed that the people would stand up for this grand experiment in self-governing. Despite its flaws and misplaced idealism, it’s worked pretty well, up until now.

Now, the real capitalistic enemies are at the gates of our freedom and are salivating at making most of us their subjects of eternal wealth hoarding. We are literally teetering on the brink of losing our democratic republic and handing it over to the fascists, who have gone all-in for the Powell memo and are poised to go to any extreme to have it all. Bribery is no longer a crime to these people; it is a way of life. You might want to consider that fact the next time an election rolls around. Perhaps making ourselves aware and educated about who and what we’re voting for will become more important in our minds than ever before.

We have a madman as president, and he is fronting a mad dash for the greatest smash-and-dash ripoff by one party in our political history. The Republicans in Congress are just clever enough and evil enough to take advantage of the orange lunatic to hijack the entire political process and avoid the checks and balances inherent in our Constitution.

When a Republican Congress person starts grinning, grab your wallet and protect your assets while you still can.

Vern Turner lives in Denver and is a regular contributor to The Oklahoma Observer. His latest book, Racing to the Brink: The End Game for Race and Capitalism, is available through Amazon.com.

Vern Turner
Vern Turner
Denver resident Vern Turner is a regular contributor to The Oklahoma Observer. His latest book, Why Angels Weep: America and Donald Trump, is available through Amazon.