Monday, October 2, 2017

Response to Just Hitting Back Harder

(See: Just Above Sunset: Just Hitting Back Harder)

It’s the Battle of the Tweets!

First, this shot, from Donald Trump:
Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump
Results of recovery efforts will speak much louder than complaints by San Juan Mayor. Doing everything we can to help great people of PR!
Followed by this reply from Howard Dean:
Howard Dean @GovHowardDean
Oh shut up!
Okay, I think we Democrats may have just found our nominee to face Trump in 2020.

But let’s talk about Trump: Calculating, or Impulsively Dimwitted? I tend to believe it's mostly the latter.

After all, he’s probably not in this presidency gig for the money, although this is not to say that, after years of doing everything he’s been doing, money isn’t always somewhere in Donald Trump's thoughts, not too unlike my cat who instinctively makes that staccato eh-eh-eh-eh-eh sound when she spots a bird out the window. Here he is in an account by Jerry Useem in Fortune magazine back in early 2000, when Trump was considering a run for president on the Reform Party ticket: 
Another thought occurred to him: "You know I am the highest-paid speaker in the country?” 
Trump had inked a deal with Tony Robbins, the frighteningly upbeat motivational speaker, by which Robbins would pay Trump $1 million to give ten speeches at his seminars around the country. Crucially, Trump had timed his political stops to coincide with Robbins' seminars, so that he was "making a lot of money" on those campaign stops. "It's very possible that I could be the first presidential candidate to run and make money on it," Trump said, adding that "there's no way a good businessman" would have blown the kind of money Steve Forbes had. 
Okay, I take that back: maybe making money IS a motivation for Trump being in the White House, but an equally-major motivator is his maybe-pathological need for being extremely-highly regarded. From that same Fortune article:
"Hey, I've got my name on half the major buildings in New York," he said. "I went to the Wharton School of Finance, which is the No. 1 school. I'm intelligent. Some people would say I'm very, very, very intelligent." Plus, he had written three best-selling books. "Not bestsellers," Trump clarified. "No. 1 bestsellers."
As president, he’s been known to fire at least one high official who refused to swear loyalty to him, and open an on-camera cabinet meeting by going around the table and have everyone, as if unsolicited, sing his praises. If some governor thanks him for his administration’s help in cleaning up after a disaster, in Trump’s version, it will sound like the governor had recommended Trump’s name to the Vatican for canonization for sainthood.

He wants to be “liked”? Maybe “adored”? Something like that. Because he never got love from his parents? Maybe.

But there’s also the possibility that he’s always been a natural-born jerk, possibly because he was born so rich that there was neither opportunity nor reason to develop the normal social skills that normal human beings have to learn in order to survive, and so he instead learned to compensate for this lack by competing with everyone — making more money, buying bigger things, gold-plating and putting his name on them. (Also from that article: "When I don't put my name on it," Trump explains, "nobody knows that I own it.”)

It’s all about the kind of stature that only a bully can appreciate. He doesn’t so much need to be “liked” or “loved” as “respected”, “envied”, “feared”, and “worshipped”.

So is it possible, with Kim, that Trump is cleverly playing bad-cop to Tillerson’s good-cop?

Possible, but I think doubtful. Trump really doesn’t seem to have a history for actual political calculation beyond giving a humiliating nickname to an opponent, such as “Little Marco” or “Pocahontas” or “Rocketman”, none of which serves any pragmatic purpose other than making him feel like he’s won some sparring match with an enemy, which comes as natural to him as brushing one’s teeth comes to you or me.

Forget helping people in need during a natural disaster, Trump's comfort zone is soaking up that adulation he receives afterward for, what, just being there after the dust settles?

His problem, of course, is he doesn’t have the patience to wait until it’s all over, insisting on prematurely blithering on, in tweets and speeches, on what an incredible job he and his people did in doing whatever it is that they were supposed to be doing, never seeming to realize how it sounds like “Mission Accomplished” or “Heck of a job, Browny!”

But regardless of much evidence that anything was done at all, the important thing is to think of it as a “good news story”. It's never so much about the truth, it’s really about what he wants people to believe about himself and his imaginary good works.

And speaking of that comfort zone, Trump never gets as much comfort anywhere else as he does when he’s out rallying with his peeps, chatting up all those issues they have in common, such as people showing disrespect for those things that good American patriots pride themselves on holding dear, despite anything else that might be worth considering. The irony of Republicans is that, despite being in a decades-long refusal to acknowledge a distinction between fact and opinion, putting the party in a death spiral, they continue to provide comfort for delusionals such as Trump and his base, who seem to actually believe that coal jobs will miraculously arise from the dead, tax cuts for rich people will pay for themselves, and that Barrack Obama was born in Kenya. 

Why did Trump pick a fight with the NFL?

If he were a purely calculating politician, he might be returning to earlier years of Republican “wedge issues” politics — remember Vice President Dan Quayle picking a fight with TV-sitcom-character Murphy Brown for choosing to give birth to an out-of-wedlock baby, as if it were just another “life-style choice”? — but if he knew his history, he’d remember the veep got trounced by the fictional character in that one, hands down.

More likely, that NFL thing wasn’t calculation on Trump’s part. More likely, it was Charles Foster Kane, in search of that “Rosebud” sled of his early years, when troubles were few and life was simpler, back when he could get all the things he wanted by just imagining them into existence, without much hassle and without anybody stopping him, and he was happy.

So which is it — crazy like a fox, or the impulsive dimwit? Ockham’s razor or Hanlon’s razor?

My vote goes to Hanlon’s dimwit.