WEDNESDAY, MARCH 22, 2023
Also, though, Mary Trump: We don't think we've ever seen the 1979 film, With Justice For All. Al Pacino is often said to have made this statement as part of that courtroom drama:
"This whole court is out of order!"
Apparently, that's a misstatement of what the Pacino character says. According to an array of sources, the actual line goes like this:
"You're out of order! You're out of order! The whole trial is out of order!"
All in all, the same idea.
It has occurred to us, in the past few days, that our whole national discourse is [badly] out of order. The sheer inanity of "cable news" discourse has taken things well beyond the pale—and no, it isn't just that way on Fox.
We started building this site in the fall of 1997 because we thought, even then, that the howlers were arriving on a daily basis. But in the last few days and nights, our gong-show discourse has moved beyond the realm of mere howlers into the world of gonzo incompetence and general semi-insanity.
Our guess would be that this results from the "viewpoint segregation" of cable news, in which our tribunes are almost never forced to defend, refine or re-analyze anything they've ever said. Years inside such echo chambers reduce the intellectual skills of participants—and quite a few of those pundit skill levels were quite thin coming in.
"This is the discourse we have chosen," we thoughtfully said this very morning—and that isn't just the doing of our journalists, such as they frequently are.
The failure of academics to notice and challenge this culture is one of the gong-shows of the age. Even the experts with whom we consult can't account for this failure to serve, though this failure was already pronounced by the time we started this site.
Last night, we were happy to observe a brief break in this state of affairs. We refer to Mary Trump's appearance on The Last Word.
We've long stated the obvious here—you can't conduct a serious discussion of Donald J. Trump without input from (carefully selected) medical / psychological / psychiatric specialists.
Because she's Donald Trump's niece, Mary Trump wouldn't be the perfect choice to serve in this role. That said, she does have training as a clinical psychologist, and on rare occasions she's allowed to say such things as this:
MARY TRUMP (3/21/23): Well Lawrence, first of all, it's great to be with you. And you are talking about these quotes from people near Donald who allegedly spend a lot of time with him. There is always such a disconnect between what they claim and what I know can't possibly be true.
So I think, first of all, the emotion of sadness is not in Donald's arsenal. What he is feeling, to the extent that he is feeling anything, is self-pity. And that makes sense.
He's also feeling grievance, but he feels aggrieved every time he walks into the Mar-a-Lago dining hall and his paid patrons don't pay him sufficient homage, right? So none of this is new, and he has such a limited range...
Again, I try to avoid any diagnostic labels. But this is somebody who has such serious psychological problems, he has such serious psychopathologies, that the range of emotion that is available to most relatively stable people is not available to him.
I think Donald's emotional makeup consists mostly of anger and the self-pity I spoke about earlier, and deep, deep fear. And a lot of that is in the service of making sure he never feels humiliated.
Lawrence changed the focus of the discussion for his second segment with Mary Trump. But in the material offered above, you see one of the rare attempts to offer an adult appraisal of this badly disordered person's badly disordered behavior.
As we've noted again and again, the mainstream press corps isn't going to take part in this type of discussion. In truth, it may be just as well. Our TV stars aren't mature enough, or smart enough, to conduct a discussion of this type, and the introduction of frameworks like this would instantly be abused across the partisan spectrum.
Simply put, our floundering nation lacks the capacity (the range) to conduct a serious discussion of Trump. We simply aren't up to the task. We enjoy "the jugglers and the clowns," and we listen to almost nobody else.
One or two final points:
In her first, best-selling book, Mary Trump explicitly identified her grandfather (Donald Trump's father) as a "sociopath." She didn't say the same thing about her uncle, but as she listed his various psychopathologies, we'd be inclined to say that she made it clear she was saying something quite similar.
As we noted in real time, our journalists ran from those assessments much as Dracula flees the cross. They simply refuse to engage with such topics. Within our blue tribe as well as in theirs, we're children in a childish land, and that isn't going to change.
We've recommended pity for Donald J. Trump, and we continue to do so. That said, pity for someone afflicted this way isn't within the range of emotion available to us as a people or as a tribe. The range of emotion available to us doesn't let us go to any such place, even as we work to keep Trump out of office.
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.
According to Mary Trump, her uncle didn't "emerge unscathed" from her grandfather's sociopathy. Neither did her father, who died at age 42.
Years later, the wider meaning of those remarks remains unexplored, undiscussed. This whole discourse is out of order! As a people, we simply aren't up to the task of conducting mature public discourse.
Tucker Carlson isn't up to that task. As we clown (and call names) from within our blue tents, could the same thing be true about us?