WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 13, 2021
Disappearing what Mary Trump said: Yesterday, we were struck by Greg Sargent's analysis at the Washington Post.
Sargent even used a key word. He seemed to say that he'd found the commander-in-chief's recent conduct "shocking:"
SARGENT (1/12/21): As shocking new revelations emerge about President Trump’s depraved and malevolent response to the violent siege of the Capitol, it’s becoming clear that this event will require a much bigger reckoning than we may have first thought.
Impeachment may be only the beginning of what’s truly required, if we are going to come to terms with the enormity of this occurrence and what led up to it—and parcel out appropriate accountability for it.
This is thrust upon us by an extraordinary new report in The Post that reconstructs Trump’s actions during the assault, and by renewed discussion of the 14th Amendment as a tool for barring officials who incited the mob from ever holding public office again.
The meta-revelation in the Post piece is that Trump appeared to take solipsistic, even sadistic pleasure in watching a mob lay siege to our seat of government in his name, and as a result, refused to call for calm, potentially further endangering lawmakers’ lives.
Greg Sargent is a good, decent person. He was referring to this news report on page A1 of yesterday's Washington Post.
The front-page news report in question has been widely discussed. Relying on unnamed sources, it describes the behavior of Donald J. Trump as various aides and advisers tried to get him to stop watching TV—to make an appropriate statement instead—during last week's Capitol riot.
Borrowing from the ancient spiritual, Donald Trump would not be moved. According to Sargent, the Post had produced an "extraordinary" report, built upon "revelations" Sargent said he found "shocking."
As noted above, Sargent's a good, decent person. He isn't dumb at all. In part for those reasons, we think his description constitutes a highly instructive anthropology lesson. More specifically, it offers an instructive lesson concerning recent press corps conduct.
In Sargent's account, the Post's report said that Trump "appeared to take solipsistic, even sadistic pleasure in watching a mob lay siege to our seat of government."
We wouldn't use those exact same words to describe the contents of the report, but Sargent is giving a perfectly reasonable account of what the Post report said. Having said that, it seems to us that the obvious question is this:
Why would anyone find it "shocking" to hear that Donald J. Trump reacted that way? As a subset of our species, are we completely unable to process, remember and understand what Mary Trump has said?
As you may recall, Mary L. Trump is a clinical psychologist; she's also Donald Trump's niece. In her recent, number-one best-selling book, she described her uncle's upbringing along with his "psychopathologies."
No, she isn't the oracle at Delphi. That said, Mary L. Trump said this:
MARY TRUMP (pages 12-13): None of the Trump siblings emerged unscathed from my grandfather's sociopathy and my grandmother's illnesses, both physical and psychological, but my uncle Donald and my father, Freddy, suffered more than the rest. In order to get a complete picture of Donald, his psychopathologies, and the meaning of his dysfunctional behavior, we need a thorough family history.
In the last three years, I’ve watched as countless pundits, armchair psychologists and journalists have kept missing the mark, using phrases such as "malignant narcissism" and "narcissistic personality disorder" in an attempt to make sense of Donald’s often bizarre and self-defeating behavior. I have no problem calling Donald a narcissist—he meets all nine criteria as outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5)—but the label only gets us so far.
[Clinical] experiences showed me time and again that diagnosis doesn't exist in a vacuum. Does Donald have other symptoms we aren't aware of? Are there other disorders that might have as much or more explanatory power? Maybe. A case could be made that he also meets the criteria for antisocial personality disorder, which in its most severe forms is generally considered sociopathy but can also refer to chronic criminality, arrogance, and disregard for the rights of others...
The fact is, Donald’s pathologies are so complex and his behaviors so often inexplicable that coming up with an accurate and comprehensive diagnosis would require a full battery of psychological and neuropsychological tests that he’ll never sit for.
Elsewhere in her book, Mary Trump explicitly says that Donald Trump's father—her own grandfather—was "a high-functioning sociopath." In substantial detail, she describes the heinous way this sociopath raised his five unfortunate kids.
In Mary Trump's assessment, the greatest damage was done to the two youngest kids, one of whom is our commander-in-chief. The two youngest kids were still very young when their mother's physical ailments limited the role she could play in their upbringing.
Donald J. Trump was very young when his mother's illnesses meant that he would be very heavily influenced by his sociopathic father. In that passage, you see Mary Trump's assessment of the commander's subsequent "psychopathologies," concerning which we'll only say this:
How quickly they forget!
After reading an account like that, why would anyone be surprised by the behavior described in the Washington Post's news report? Why would a journalist rush into print to call the behavior "shocking?"
To our ear, Mary Trump describes her uncle as a "sociopath plus." However you might want to describe it, the commander has been behaving exactly as a person with the described "psychopathologies" would. And, lest we further forget, let us also say this:
Way back in 2017, Yale psychiatrist Bandy X. Lee published an earlier best-selling book. That best-seller carried this rather explicit title:
The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 27 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President
In a later edition, the number of expert contributors jumped to thirty-seven. That said, our question is this:
More than three years after Dr. Lee's book; a full half-year after Mary Trump's book; why would anyone be shocked, let alone "shocked, shocked," by the commander's ongoing behavior?
We say "shocked, shocked" for this reason. Cable punditry concerning Trump has been a version of Groundhog Day cross-fertilized with Casablanca.
Every morning, at 6 A.M. sharp, Joe and Mika are excitedly shocked all over again. They're shocked by whatever the commander-in-chief has said or done in the preceding ten minutes.
Joe and Mika set the tone, and their gang of sycophants follow. As the day proceeds, similar conduct will be seen all over the "cable news" press corps.
Each day, the monkeys agree to be shocked, shocked by the commander's latest insanity. In the course of this daily performance, they agree to pretend that the best-selling books of Mary Trump and Bandy X. Lee were never composed or published.
This press corps behavior is almost as strange as that of Trump himself. Ever so quickly, let's describe the history of this conduct, admittedly for the ten millionth time:
The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump was published on October 1, 2017. According to the leading authority on the subject, "The book was an instant New York Times Best Seller, and high demand led to a second edition."
In that second edition, thirty-seven "psychiatrists and mental health experts" attempted to warn the nation about Donald J. Trump's dangerous psychiatric condition. Inevitably, the mental giants at the New York Times editorial board swung into action at this point in time.
For many years, this board has been about as fatuous and foppish as such boards can get. In this instance, they swung into action with an editorial in January 2018.
In their editorial, the board said that journalists shouldn't discuss the president's psychiatric state. As the children always do, the children fell into line.
Exactly as they always do, the children fell into line. If Ralph Kramden had sent Bandy Lee to the moon, she and the book she compiled could not have been disappeared further.
Needless to say, similar behavior occurred when Mary Trump's book appeared. Reviewers tended to make glancing mention of the rather severe diagnosis she offered of her uncle's "psychopathologies" and personality disorders.
Instead, they tended to focus on human interest nuggets—The time he regifted those presents! The time he commented on Mary Trump's breasts!—and they tended to let the author's diagnosis go.
The children tend to think with one brain, and they tend to be highly obedient. In recent months, Mary Trump has been a frequent presence on "cable news," but she's been turned into a standard pundit, making the standard pundit assessments.
Her diagnosis is rarely mentioned. She's never asked to revisit the remarkable diagnosis we've posted above. With regret, we're forced to say that she's been complicit in this.
This leads to us yesterday's state of affairs. In Sargent's essay, a perfectly intelligent liberal pundit seemed to say that he'd been shocked by the kind of behavior reported in the Post. He found the behavior shocking!
That said, unless you've been living on Neptune, there was nothing surprising—nothing at all—about that reported behavior.
Mary Trump had described her uncle as something like a "sociopath plus." Dr. Lee's contributors had issued similar warnings about his "dangerous" condition. (According to Lee, the commander's condition would only be getting worse.)
These warnings had come in a pair of well-known, best-selling books. But within the culture of the upper-end press, if it weren't for all the disappeared topics—if it weren't for all the topics the children agree they won't discuss—it sometimes seems that there wouldn't be any topics at all.
We told you, several years ago, that "it's all anthropology now." In part, we meant to say there would be no useful solutions to the disasters in which we're all encased. The only subject worth pursuing was the question of the mental wiring through which we've arrived at this place.
For ourselves, we'd start with the psychiatric profile of the commander-in-chief. Also at issue is the psychiatric profile, or other possible motives, of many of his high-level supporters.
Also this: What's the nature of the group dynamic which can produce a "tulip craze" among large groups of people?
Finally, how do we explain the conduct of this nation's upper-end press corps, whose relentless group conduct has played a large role in getting us where we are? And how about the conduct we see right here in the streets of Our Town, where our own version of a "tulip craze" can seem to be occurring?
At any rate, every morning, at 6 A.M., Groundhog Day starts on cable. Joe is shocked all over again. Mika keeps saying, "I don't get it." (Truer words have rarely been spoken).
The cluelessness extends all through the day, as the children of the "cable news" corn agree to be thoroughly shocked all over again.
In Casablanca, the willingness to be "shocked, shocked" was turned into one of Hollywood's greatest jokes. For at least the past thirty years, it's been a route to great danger here as things have kept falling apart.
By now, things have massively fallen apart. This simple fact is plainly true, and things have even fallen apart right here in the streets of Our Town.
Tomorrow: Even right here in Our Town