If what 99.999% of the world’s traditional media says is true, and Donald Trump is a narcissist, then he must currently be the happiest narcissist in the whole wide world. As one of our greatest narcissists of the past remarked, there’s only one thing that’s worse than being talked about. Trump doesn’t just have everybody talking / shrieking / tearing hair, the guy seems to be conducting a Matrix like Anschluss on the fabric of reality itself.
Remember back when you’d hardly hear about Obama from one end of the year to the next? Why, I’d almost forgotten he existed the day before he went on telly to boast about the death of Osama Bin Laden (and how amazing it was that no mainstream media commented on how, at the very least, a new Rubicon of taste had been crossed. An American President went on telly to crow about the death of an enemy, and no one batted an eyelid. Those who didn’t bat eyelids now yell screaming blue horror at the thought of Trump in a bathrobe. Interesting times.).
Bless him. Obama was a bit like William Pitt The Elder in Blackadder. Throw him the odd celebrity selfie or fist pump and the chance to tell safe little jokes in front of an audience and he didn’t bother anyone until his advisers began to fret that he might not get re-elected (Heavens Barack, is that time already? God how it flew.).
Not so The Donald. Never mind days, barely an hour goes by without some new executive order, tweet or bathrobe moment to cause new outrage among the righteous. Of all things, we’re told, narcissists crave attention the most. It doesn’t really matter if it’s good or bad attention, so long as it’s attention (I may have gleaned this nugget of psychiatric insight from Doctor Phil).
And he really is such a unifying force, you know. Since when have the right thinking cognoscenti ever had something about which they can spew so much righteous vitriol in unison? Even the tech caliphs of Facebook and Twitter, from their cities above the clouds where the rest of us don’t even show up as specks, feel the need to join the action, despite the fact that their site traffic never hummed so much before the latest iteration of the The Donald.
Where will it end? It’s like the whole world has become Homer Simpson in that ancient episode where Moe steals his idea for a cocktail. For days, all Homer can hear is the sound of ‘Moe, Moe, Moe.’ The Donald is reproducing himself like a virus all over the culture. The same headline features his name two or three times.
What’s next? Chart toppers with titles like ‘I Wanna Trump your Trump’ by ‘Trump Machine.’? Reinventions of literature to accommodate the new reality: ‘The Blackbird and the Trump Jar’ by Sylvia Trump? The Star Trump Trilogy? Seven Years a Trump? Lord save us, will the media even turn to Trump-rage instead of sex to sell us things? A scantily clad model gets up from the toilet to tell us how much she hates Trump, then tells us that her new toothpaste helps her to feel better, or at least to forget?
And I’m still seeing the same kind of ridiculous posts I saw months before his election. There was one the other day which proclaimed how some obscure Irish DJ just ‘slayed’ the Donald. The guy must have more lives than Twitter followers. No, I don’t know the name of the DJ. Neither, I suspect, does anyone else. The Donald certainly doesn’t.
Even before the election, most major internet news sites had entire sections devoted to nothing but Trump stories: Trump was mean to a woman, Trump just mocked a new minority, Trump wants war with China, Why Trump is almost certainly a psychopath, why he needs Ritalin etc.
Since his elevation, the shock and awe has bled from the headline news down to everything else. As well as the marches, there are circles where caring people can gather and cry and be hugged by other caring people. Everybody, it seems, is far too traumatised to talk about anything else. Darth Vader is in the White House. How could it happen?
The endlessly self-renewing fires of hurt are really down to two things. In part, they reflect the shock and outrage of a ‘liberal’ media and political establishment. For ‘liberal,’ by the way, read ‘Conservative,’ in the sense of visceral resistance to change, or any challenge to the official dogma about how society should be organised. As the ever so wise Frank Herbert remarked ages ago, scratch a liberal and you find a closet aristocrat.
It is this which led to Hillary’s famous unguarded remark about ‘deplorables.’ You simply can’t have the poorly coiffed plebs breaking wind in the palaces of the mighty. No matter how Hillary tried to qualify the remark later, the plebs knew exactly what and whom she meant.
Those two bastions of decent liberal opinion, the New York Times and the Washington Post, aren’t even pretending to spend a few polite months on the fence. No way. Their goal is to take The Donald down, end of story. This is something that is worth thinking about.
The other reason for all the outrage is simply this: we have been conditioned over decades and decades to accept that politicians are lying to us. They might be good at fake smiles and fist pumps and kissing babies but really: they’re just around to say non-controversial things while serving the interests of the rich, and getting rich themselves. The careers of politicians like Hillary Clinton even carry the half-conscious assumption that people know she’s lying to them, but are supposed to accept it as all part of the deal. The world they inhabit, insofar as the plebs are concerned, has a great deal to do with knowing your place.
How outrageous, therefore, what unprecedented arrogance, for The Donald to waddle on to the world stage actually meaning what he says, and then trying to get some of the stuff he said done. This is not how politics is supposed to function. The game has completely changed, hence all the fury among those who want to change it back immediately.
I don’t know if the stream of tweets and executive orders will dry up once, as media psychologists predict with increasing nervousness, Donald gets tired of the Presidency and starts to drift. I accept that some aspects of his personality appear ridiculous, but then, some aspects of any personality appear ridiculous, depending on how you view them.
Somewhere in the Trump matrix there’s an understanding of this, something that voters – vastly more aware than normal politicians like to think – sniffed some time ago. They’re beyond tired of the bullshit. Maybe Trump is bullshit as well, but at least it’s a different kind of bullshit, a bullshit which doesn’t simply recycle the same old lies, the same old contempt for ‘deplorable’ humanity.
Trump may be ridiculous, but so are his opponents. The difference is, as Slavoj Zisek pointed out, that Trump does not wear a mask, whereas his enemies still cling tragically to the belief that people cannot see behind theirs.
The notion of Hillary ‘we came, we saw, he died’ Clinton as President of America is something which should have terrified anybody with a mind. The media commentators who have been engaged in a public ritual of grieving since November are ridiculous. Lester Holt is like an untalented and tragically needy oompa loompa. Even if he was a character in ‘Annie Hall,’ Anderson Cooper would come over as a pretentious bore. Van ‘what am ah gonna tell mah children’ Johnson ought to give up political discourse and enter pantomime.
(Loath though I am to give anyone parental advice, Van, it strikes me you could tell your kids that sometimes their guy doesn’t win, that that’s just life. I still remember the first time I saw my football team lose a Cup Final. It was awful, but presumably character forming, and prepared me for the many, many defeats they and I have undergone since.)
The voters began the process of sniffing all this out some time ago. If I was a media oligarch, I might be a little worried that most people now take it as read that anything my multiple orifices tell them isn’t true. For the moment however, oligarchies on both sides of the Atlantic seem determined to keep doing what they do, telling the plebs to keep working twice as hard for half the wages, because they’re just lucky to have a job.
Only once on CNN did I hear one commentator utter a truth: something so devastating that it should have caused every oligarchy in the west to lurch and wobble. The fact that it didn’t tells you everything you need to know about the state of democracy.
That truth was this: many people in the US who voted for Obama four and eight years ago voted for Trump in 2016. It wasn’t that they loved the guy. Love is irrelevant to transaction. It was just that they knew the previous stuff they’d been sold didn’t work out for them, so they decided to try out the different thing, to see if that made stuff any better. Ain’t it funny how we only like democracy or the marketplace when it gives us the result we want?