Monday, March 30, 2020

On Trump's Assertion That Masks Are Stolen In Hospitals. The Games He Plays.

I used to write, all the time,  about Trump's inane statements, about his ignorance, his lack of interest in learning and about his extreme selfishness. 

I no longer think those writing exercises improved the health of our nation in any way (1).  Enough Americans (and Vlad "The Impaler" Putin) in 2016 had no problem with electing an ignorant narcissist to run the so-called Free world.  They knew what they would get, liking it well enough.  And they still like him well enough.

So I haven't written much about Trump in recent months. (2)  But perhaps this is worth re-stating:

Trump is a narcissist.  This means that he doesn't have certain moral senses most of us share.  He can intellectually understand empathy, and he can even mimic it, but he doesn't know how empathy feels. 

He lives in a world centered around his ego.  The crucial part of understanding this is not that he is selfish (though he is) or that he sees himself as the Sun God of this century (though he does).  The crucial part to understand is that for him his ego, his very self, is like a soap bubble, hovering in a dark world full of sharp objects.  It is extremely fragile. (3)

It must be defended!  Anything piercing that soap bubble would burst it — pop! — and then there would be no Donald Trump.  And the things which threaten that soap bubble consist of everything which threatens the greatness of Donald Trump.

Once you understand this, you can predict almost everything he will say or do.  He will judge all news on the basis of how they make him look, and he will deem the news fake if they make him look bad. He will vigorously attack all criticism and all critics, and he will punish the critics with all means available to him.  He. Must. Win.

Winning, for him, equals keeping the iridescent soap bubble intact.  If he doesn't win, the bubble will burst.  That's why he never gives up in his stupid email fights, and that's why those fights so often seem to be about little personal things which a president should not care about.  But for Trump the personal barbs are the worst barbs.  They threaten his very existence, and must be fought.

If it looks like he is not winning a particular debate, he will convert it into a different debate, one which he cannot lose.  All narcissists are masters in that game, and this is one instance where, indeed, Trump might be the greatest of all.

That is the background against which we should read his comments about masks being stolen in New York hospitals:

President Donald Trump alleged that a New York hospital lost protective masks or even allowed them to be stolen, questioning how demand for the product could have spiked so rapidly during the coronavirus outbreak.
Trump cited no evidence and didn’t identify the hospital.
By suggesting something this outrageous, Trump takes some pressure off himself, because the diversion he opens here is one journalists will eagerly follow.  Not because they believe what Trump is stating, but because they do not believe it, and wish to make the facts in the case quite clear.  But by doing that they are cooperating with Trump by doing what he intended:  To shift the debate away from the problems of his leadership in this pandemic to other outrageous topics which do not threaten his soap bubble.

(1)  That is a bit grandiose.  I don't have enough readers to make much of a difference, though I do have many influential readers (believe it or not) and all my readers are wonderful brainy and compassionate people.

(2)  Or about anything else. The reasons are complicated, but I have been ill for a couple of months.  It's likely that I had the Coronavirus in February, though without easy testing for antibodies there is no way of telling now.  Whatever it was, it caused a tornado of various after-effects.  I'm slowly recovering and getting shiny eyes back and so on.

(3)  I am not a psychologist so cannot talk about the reasons for Trump's fragile ego, though his parents and especially his cold and rejecting father probably had a role in creating him the way he is now.