My working theory on this guy is that he is incapable of seeing himself the way others see him, unless they see him as he sees himself. This is a common pathology in people I have seen in my professional life, people who’s endemic narcissism is further pathologized by their addictions. Unless what some people are saying about his use of Adderall is true, Donnie doesn’t use alcohol and other drugs, but he has all the attributes of what is called a “dry drunk” in AA-speak — restless, irritable and discontent (see post “The Mad King”).
If you pay attention, which I admit is hard to do, you’ll see that no matter who he is talking to, he tends to deliver a stump speech. I was particularly struck by this in transcripts of his conversations with Bob Woodward, who has written books about every President since Nixon. Woodward is asking questions about specific actions Donnie has taken, and he responds with “we are winning in China, etc etc etc etc etc etc.” When he speaks at rallies, where the audience is predisposed to want his stump-speech message and who have joined his cult of personality, the reflection back on him is exactly how he sees himself. When the reflection is different — “that’s ill-advised,” “that’s not what you said last week,” “a lot of people don’t just dislike you, they despise you” — he cannot process this because it doesn’t fit with his own self-perception. Thus, “fake news.” I think he really believes it is fake.
This is where much of the country has not gotten yet. They see complexity when the problem is very simple. Classical tragedies in theater and literature revolve around a main character having a “tragic flaw.” Donnie’s is slowly being exposed, but it is so fundamentally pathological that we have a hard time comprehending it.
My primary hope is that he is not impeached because that just makes Pence the GOP candidate in 2020, and Pence is just Trump without all the disgusting personal attributes. He is a religious zealot who, you will notice, has created a public space that allows himself to distance himself from Donnie and create a cult of righteousness, not of personality, because he seems to have no personality. The election of Donnie in 2016 was a perfect storm that only justified everything he has ever thought about himself. He has made no effort to expand his appeal beyond the cult, and the next time around, the cult will not be enough to win Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin by a thread. If everything else stays exactly the same, he loses. Nominate Donnie, and we can finally get this over with and spend a decade repairing the damage he has done.
© Joseph Galligan 2019