I was once walking in Riverside Park with my son—he was about four years old—and he asked me, “Dad, does a squirrel know he’s stupid”? Interesting question (one of the many he used to come up with).
A similar question comes up constantly with Donald Trump.
Does he have any real conception of how his unfiltered utterances affect other human beings? Does he know how insensitive and cruel he sounds? The man clearly has a monstrous chip on his shoulder—a world class inferiority complex—and that creates a streak of sadism.
In his personal life—his family and friends—he may actually be a benevolent presence, but when he’s the object of wide attention, the aggrieved and uncontrollable little boy seems to come out.
There was a book I read to my kids when they were little—I think it was the Berenstain Bears—called Too Much Birthday. It’s about the emotional overload a little kid can through when there are too many other kids running around, too much noise, too many presents… They get overloaded and crash.
Everybody says that Trump can’t get enough attention—I’ve thought that myself. Maybe the opposite is true; maybe he’s had too much attention and he’s breaking down under the strain. For a man whose identity seems to come almost entirely from external sources, maybe he (even he) has had too much and he’s losing it entirely. Last week he suggested that the US would save money if they gave nuclear technology and weapons to South Korea!
Of course, the verbal spit-up from Trump that passes as political commentary wouldn’t make the slightest bit of difference if he was a cartoon character or a random lunatic muttering to himself on streets. But we are forced to consider the fact that he could actually be the next President of the country.
…So now the latest; Trump says women should be punished for having an abortion (Of course he took it back a day later–like almost everything else he says).
But did he really mean it when he first said it? I’m guessing he didn’t.; but I wonder if he’s ever read an American history book, or, for that matter, paid any attention to American culture outside the confines of his narrow, gold-plated kingdom?
One thing for sure; he doesn’t understand that women have always been punished for having an abortion—and the worst punishment has to be the self-punishment, the awareness of deliberately ending a life inside yourself.
We’ve already got Ted Cruz who would, if he could get away with it, brand a scarlet “A” on the forehead of any woman who attempted to have an abortion. Trump is not as mean or crazy as Cruz but he has no apparent control over his words or his temper. Imagine him having the final say over launching nuclear weapons.
It’s possible, as the convention and the actual nomination get closer, that Trump has discovered what all other lifer politicians know from birth—he needs to say things that play well with people whose support he must have to reach his goal.
But I have a deeper feeling about Trump. I think he’s ultimately self-destructive, like a gambler who plays to lose.
I think, inside that bizarre skull of his, he has a dawning awareness that he’s not really capable of handling the job of President; or simply, that it’s just not the kind of thing that he likes to do. It’s too static and demanding, requires too much responsibility and attention. He’s a man who doesn’t feel comfortable with sustained reflection on emotional or philosophical issues or with pondering the complexities and ambiguity of life. Good for him—that means he’s probably not neurotic. But it doesn’t make him any less dangerous.
Every time Donald Trump says something outrageous and offensive, people think, “Well, that’s it, now he’s gone too far.” But that hasn’t panned out. He seems to able to say anything and his fans keep cheering him on and voting for him.
Maybe his latest stupid remark about women will be the last straw. Maybe Trump has—propelled by whatever complex emotional forces that drive him—taken one step too far over the line. Could be he has self-aborted. If he has, it won’t be the conscious, anguished choice that millions of women have made, it will just be one more eruption from his twisted child’s mind.