The human mind is not able to disprove every single falsity which has been suggested to it.
Andrzej Lobaczewski, Political Ponerology.
On the 90th day of Trumpism, Our Leader gave to us: lotsa flip-n-floppin’, 60 bombs exploding, one Southern White House, much kleptofascism, a missing armada, botched legislations, conflicts of interest, Russian collusion, a bunch of Nazis gloating, dozens lost attorneys, journalists a-leaping, Steely Smile Spicer, and a sense of unreality.
To name just a few of his many accomplishments.
The sense of unreality, compounded by chaos and associated anxiety, is slowly but surely becoming our default state of existence as it always is when pathocracy — a rule by psychopaths and narcissists — spreads in any more or less normal so far society. Norms and laws are being set aside and/or redefined, while (the healthy part of) the public watches in horror and disbelief, and organizes protests and anti-pathocratic movements trying to stop the progress of this malignant social disease.
Trump’s absurd lies and exaggerations, which at first seemed to many a “campaign strategy” designed to secure votes, persist unabated and are the main subject of media reports, congressional and other investigations, feverish speculations and endless arguments, all consuming time, energy and money. His Black Holeness continues to suck in the observable and not Universe, crushing it in the process, as programmed by his character defect:
Living in a reality of his own making, a narcissist is unconcerned with truth or objectivity. Honesty and consistency are for mere mortals or losers; he is not bound by them in any way. What is more, he will glibly manage to convince you that he is correct in whatever opinion he is voicing at the moment. Those who live with a narcissist are prone to fall for his reality distortions and may have difficulties after a while telling truth from fiction, even as it pertains to their own perceptions, feelings, and thoughts.
Three months into Trump’s presidency, however, the cracks, such as they can be in a substance reminiscent of soft jello, start becoming evident even to some of those kindly disposed toward the man. As they are learning that his good-sounding campaign promises — to provide affordable health care for all, to create jobs, to have Mexico pay for that big, beautiful wall — are not going to materialize, they struggle to understand whether this is because he lied to them or because he simply has not yet enough time to make them happen (and/or his enemies are making it impossible for him).
But the complete and frighteningly cheerful faith in Trump’s magic touch remains strong in many, since when we like someone, we believe anything they say. There is even a name for it: blue lies. And Trump is still liked by his supporters. This will not change, no matter what happens.
Those steeped in denial include our punditocracy whose members continue to treat the man as normal and give him helpful advice on governing as if he cared and was able to follow it.
They should know by now that nothing he says, save direct threats, can be taken as true. That’s because for Trump nothing matters, except his image as the greatest and most tremendous Killer King (h/t Fred Drumpf, the patriarch). He skims the surface of unreality clumsily but effectively, with his trademark slipperiness, unperturbed by his own mendacity — what mendacity? you’re mendacious! — and its effects on others, convinced that he is the best in everything, believe me.
Such is the lightness of narcissists without a conscience. Untethered from reality and deep, empathy-based human bonds with their natural constraints, they float through life-powered by the strength of their self-serving, grandiose delusions always eagerly shared by too many others.
Those delusions are no match for reality, however, and their reign invariably ends in a spectacular failure, because narcissism — both the malignant and the less so kind — if not transformed and transcended, carries within itself the seeds of its own destruction.
But never mind that grim future now. The (illusion of an) immediate and dazzling win is all that matters. The Trump Doctrine is saying and doing whatever brings the most adulation at the moment, with no regard for truth and consequences. And it works.
Thanks to continuous efforts, if one can call them such, of the man and his sycophants to obfuscate and blame-shift, Trump’s brazen lies go through more permutations in a week than a piece of idle gossip shared over a year by real housewives anywhere.
When questioned about it, he always finds another way to spin and push the lie away from him, far enough to disavow responsibility for it, but not too far as he still wants to keep it alive to serve his purposes, one of which is protecting his fragile ego from the unbearable shame of admitting the truth and failure.
Trump peddled the birther nonsense for 5 years; any and all of his new lies can live at least as long, if he can help it. Or he can just drop them and pretend they never happened, same way he pretended not to hear the requests for a handshake during his meeting with Chancellor Merkel. Something new, even more important and/or outrageous, will come along shortly, as it always does in these Trumpian times. A war, for instance. Or two.
He can do that, of course, because like all people without a functioning conscience, he has no concept of or respect for truth or any other human values.
If anything, this profound character defect is what allowed him to slither into power and fame as easily as he did; though he had plenty of help in it from those who were captivated and/or cowed by his brazenness and saw it as some kind of a virtue, removing obstacles from the Golden Boy’s path.
Meanwhile, our pundits debate whether the man and his cabal are stupid or nefarious. They still don’t understand that when dealing with psychopaths, the Hanlon’s razor does not apply: it is always both, malice and incompetence.
A psychopath is never perturbed by his lack of ability and knowledge, nor sees any need for them. In fact, ability and knowledge, and the people who possess both, are usually obstacles to his primitive goals, unless they (the people) are psychopathic themselves and/or willing to submit to him and support his agenda. His incompetence and negligence are no less the instruments of purposeful disorder than organized efforts to inflict it upon the world. Evil need not have to have genius associated with it, and most often it doesn’t.
Our journalists’ lack of awareness of Trump’s pathology can be observed at each turn, in nearly every column and media segment. Their ignorance is not benign. By not seeing and/or not commenting on Trump’s dangerous and inherently destructive character defect, they effectively normalize it, adding intellectual insult to our moral injury, and aiding the spread of pathocracy.
One example – out of too many to list – is the media treatment of ongoing reports from the White House about chaos, fights and panic in Trump’s cabinet. This “palace intrigue” is erroneously attributed by reporters, who perhaps uncritically repeat the spin of the administration, to Trump’s “management style” which supposedly stokes competition among his staff in order to bring out their best behavior.
The obvious illogic and immorality of this explanation should be, well, obvious. But it isn’t, showing how harmful a misunderstanding of a narcissistic psychopath’s pathology can be. Because it is not some benevolent and thought-out management style on Trump’s part that’s behind the growing chaos, but sadistic manipulation meant to unload his rage and make others suffer. The effects of this manipulation, of which his lies are an integral part, are destructive not just for his staff but the entire nation and the world.
Predictably, as the sadism-induced chaos and despair grow within his closest circle of still relatively normal associates, there are also attempts to find ways out, strivings toward normalcy and health. Thus those “disloyal” leaks, which can be seen as much as revenge for his mistreatment as calls for help.
His response to the leaks, again typical for every tyrant and wannabe, was to appoint a cadre of minders, supervising his cabinet members to make sure they, fearful of their positions and future (if not life yet), toe the line.
For better and for worse, all tyrants are alike, their individual shapes notwithstanding. They use the same playbook, based on their shared character pathology. You know one, you know them all, in essence if not every detail. And we should know them by now. They are not as inscrutable and mysterious as they would like us to believe. They do not understand themselves, but their characters are (and/or should be) transparent to others.
Growing adulation and money/power are Trump’s, and every tyrant’s, main — really, only — goals. All his actions are geared toward meeting these two objectives. He will do whatever it takes to pursue them, no matter the cost for others.
Once we grasp and accept this simple truth, understanding the man’s seemingly bizarre behavior becomes easier. His lies are tools of manipulation. He uses them for three major and related purposes: to smear people he’s envious of and/or who stand in his way; to stoke anger, fear, jealousy and resentment, so that he can project a (laughably false) image of a savior of the afflicted masses; and to protect his overblown, fragile ego.
The ease with which he disposes with the pesky reality (i.e., fake news) and disagreeable (“nasty”) people is part of that unbearable lightness characterizing conscience-free narcissists. It may mesmerize some, even many, for a while, but if we knowingly couple our fate with his in hopes for a ride to glory, we should be prepared for the inevitable fiery crash.
Because this is the ride on which Donny’s taking all of us, the whole world. Bereft of a conscience and driven by an unbridled desire for power and adulation, he is like a truck filled with explosives, with a gas pedal stuck to the floor and no brakes; so it’s up to us to erect a solid enough barrier, firmly planted in the facts-and-values based reality, a.k.a truth, to stop this one way trip to obliteration.
Let’s close with a simple cheat sheet for journalists trying to decode Trump’s words: