That’s the surprising thing: Trump is giving it to us at hyper-speed. Probably this is because he is so enormously stupid. No subtle waiting around for Hindenburg to die or messing around with that pesky Reichstag fire, this guy is go-go-go. Like a sea cucumber designed only to breathe, eat, and shit sand, Trump simply does what he does, which in his sea cucumber way is wave power, threaten, bully, and get even with anyone who has ever ridiculed him or anyone who looks like they might ridicule him -- which, when you think of it, is all of us.
In short, Trump is already off his nut. It will be interesting to see how our much-vaunted system of checks and balances deals with this.
There are certainly plenty of indicators to work from. And I don’t need to talk about things as dry and dull as the appointment of Mike Flynn or Steve Bannon.
Today, for instance, Trump called together a collection of the top TV journalists in the country, as well as their producers and network executives. Big time stuff. The media thought it was going to be a mending of fences, but apparently, Trump was combative right off the top. He had called them to Trump Tower, he explained, to tell them how unfair they had been to him, and how they had “failed to provide their viewers with fair and accurate coverage…. [he] told them they failed to understand him or his appeal to millions of Americans.” (Washington Post).
When one brave soul asked Trump what “fair” was, or truth, Trump replied that his definition was “truth.”
Read that again if you want.
This was Monday. We only have to go back a few days to see the pattern being set. Thursday, say.
On that day, Trump tweeted to the world that “I worked hard with Bill Ford to keep the Lincoln plant in Kentucky. I owed it to the great State of Kentucky for their confidence in me!” In fact, Ford never had any plans to cut jobs at their Kentucky plant and none of this had anything to do with Trump. But Trump must be the champion and the center of attention, so in his scenario he not only convinced Ford to save Kentucky jobs, but Kentuckians knew he could do it and invested him with all their confidence! This, of course, is simple delusion.
A few hours after this weirdly invented self-aggrandization, there was the announcement that Trump was settling the Trump University lawsuits for 25 million, an arrangement Trump said he sought, not because he had done anything in the way of swindling anyone, but because a frivolous lawsuit would get in the way of his making America great again. I would give him that, but then he clearly had a second, darker, more worrisome thought: what if people think he’s weak? You can almost feel the sweat of such an idea dripping onto the next tweet, which came shortly after: “The ONLY bad thing about winning the Presidency is that I did not have the time to go through a long but winning trial on Trump U. Too bad!”
Like any other manic depressive, Trump would mood swing only hours later, after he heard about Vice President-Elect Pence being lectured from a Broadway stage by an actor in the musical “Hamilton.” Pence took it well enough, apparently, but Trump went on such a tweet rampage you can practically see his face bulging outward in Red Hulk fury. First, “Our wonderful future V.P. Mike Pence was harassed last night at the theater by the cast of Hamilton, cameras blazing. This should not happen!” Then, shortly after: “The Theater must always be a safe and special place. The cast of Hamilton was very rude last night to a very good man, Mike Pence. Apologize!” Then – and I picture him now pacing up and down the living room of the Trump Tower penthouse, infuriated thumbs jabbing recklessly at the keypad -- he offered up a third epistle: “The cast and producers of Hamilton, which I hear is highly overrated, should immediately apologize to Mike Pence for their terrible behavior.” (Isn’t the “which I hear is highly overrated” the great tell here? Always having to get the extraneous, unnecessary, and unverifiable jab in).
Unfortunately for mental equilibrium, the next day Trump made the mistake of watching Saturday Night Live and Alec Baldwin’s impersonation of him. Why he would bother to do such a thing, as clearly this portrayal has upset him in the past, is baffling. Psychiatrists around the world speculate. But Alec’s turn engendered this furied missive: “I watched parts of @nbcsnl Saturday Night Live last night. It is a totally one-sided, biased show - nothing funny at all. Equal time for us?” This indicates that Trump not only doesn’t have a sense of humor, but he doesn’t understand the difference between a comedy show produced by a private entertainment production company, and network news, where equal time is offered to candidates during an election, which we’re not having, for which he is no longer a candidate, because he won. He also has missed the news that Presidents, from the beginning of time, are the butt of every manner of joke. Trump doesn’t know about jokes.
Monday, as I said, brought with it not just the meeting with the news folk (remember, the truth is what Trumps says is the truth) but also stories about Trump’s unwillingness to divest himself of businesses that could stand in direct conflict with his role as President of the United States, despite Article I, the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution, which forbids public officials from receiving special treatment in commercial dealings with foreign interests. Trump waved this off in a tweet around 6pm Monday. “Prior to the election, it was well known that I have interests in properties all over the world. Only the crooked media makes this a big deal!”
This isn’t about Making America Great Again. Nor is this about the error of believing Trump when he said he would return jobs to the rust belt or anywhere else in the country where jobs were found missing (jobs that don’t exist anymore, and never will again, and we all know it), or “draining the swamp” of Washington or building walls or stopping immigration or whatever pack of lies many bought before pulling the lever or putting an X beside Trump’s name.
This is about the country. Land of Lincoln. The office in which FDR sat. The role Ronald Reagan knew to play to the hilt, comporting himself with complete dignity and decency.
Whether we like it or not, America must wake up to the fact that we have elected a mentally unbalanced child; an angry, petulant, uninformed thug to whom the country – because “the rules are the rules” – is going to give the awesome power of the United States military.
Forget nonsense like the wall – that’s peanuts. With the U.S. military Trump can do anything he wants -- at least until Congress can stop him, at which point it’s probably too late. This isn't election year ennui or economic anger playing itself out. This is deadly serious.
Because we’ve seen this before. When the bully tells you his truth is the truth, that anyone who speaks against him or his gang must apologize, or that the rules don’t apply to him, you have just been introduced to the madman. And madmen don't just stop with military adventurism.
As I said, what’s amazing is that he’s going at it so early. He doesn’t even have the actual power yet, but he’s waving around that gun like he’s already got everyone in the bank held hostage. This may work in our favor. I think he truly doesn’t understand what power he does and doesn’t have, what he’s allowed to do and not allowed to do, and where the limits are. In fact, I don’t think he knows there are any limits to his new role, which has taken on Sultanic, even Tsarist values in his mind. He just knows he’s won, has power, and people are gonna pay for being mean to him.
The good thing – if there is one – is that we still have exactly two months before he takes office. I itemized the fun of four days. Imagine four years.
So why go to Canada or Europe, when we can stay right at home and watch the destruction of the United States and maybe more from the safety of our living rooms, and all because people were too lazy to read a newspaper or open a book? Or maybe not the destruction of the country. How about a national intervention of some kind, as the American people recognize they’ve made a mistake, and they’re going to snatch sanity from the jaws of sheer idiocy and preserve the Land of Lincoln, the office wherein FDR sat, and the role that Reagan played?
Everyone says it’s too late, but it’s never too early to stop something like this. Imagine if we had real leaders able to take the bull by the horns and do what’s right and remove this man -- traditions and rules be damned. He is bold enough not to follow them. Why should we?