Well before Election Day in 2016 Americans were warned that Donald Trump, a/k/a Der Trumpenführer, was a malignant narcissist and how this posed a significant danger were he to win the White House. Sadly, enough voters in three states were won over by his calls to racism and bigotry, likely with the connivance of Russian social media trolls, to place this unfit individual in the White House. Sine inauguration day we have seen a cavalcade of callousness, moral bankruptcy, and attacks on the media never witnessed before flowing from the White House. Sadly, Trump's only compass is his ego and need to self-promote and any feeling for the pain and suffering of others is an unknown experience. Even George W. Bush - hardly among my favorite presidents or individuals - felt the need to condemn such behavior eloquently without ever naming Trump. Everyone knew in a heart beat who Bush was referring to without Bush naming him. Trump is literally that awful. A piece in The Atlantic and a piece by Kathleen Parker (who has escaped the GOP reservation yet again) in the Washington Post look at Trump's dangerous callousness towards all but himself. What is telling to me is that evangelical Christians continue to support someone so utterly morally bankrupt. First these highlights from The Atlantic:
When White House Chief of Staff—and Gold Star parent—John Kelly, on Thursday defended Donald Trump’s call to the newly widowed Myeshia Johnson, he was somber and sincere, which is refreshing. But he was wrong.Context matters. From another person, at another time, observing that Sergeant La David Johnson “knew what he signed up for” by joining the Army wouldn’t have sparked outrage. But consider what else Representative Frederica Wilson—with the backing of Johnson’s mother—has alleged: that Trump didn’t know Johnson’s name; he repeatedly called him “your guy.” And that Trump’s tone was oddly jovial: “He was almost, like, joking.”
Above all, consider what we know about the way Trump discusses pain and death. This is the man who congratulated Puerto Ricans—whose island had been utterly devastated—for losing only “16” and not “thousands of people.” The man who told a crowd in Corpus Christi on August 29, while 30,000 Texans were displaced, “It’s going well.” And who said after touring the convention center where thousands of Houstonians were taking refuge that, “We saw a lot of happiness.”
Donald Trump minimizes suffering for which he might be held responsible. That’s likely what he was doing in his conversation with Myeshia Johnson. And it’s not just insensitive; it’s dangerous. As the former Missouri Senate candidate, and former Army intelligence officer, Jason Kander observed on Wednesday night on CNN, people say, “He knew what he signed up for” because “they are seeking emotional distance from the situation. People say that because they want to avoid feeling that pain.” That’s worrying, Kander added, because “I want the president, any president … when they’re making a decision about sending people to a dangerous place, I want them to have as one of the things in their mind, the visceral, emotional feeling” that comes from absorbing a widow’s inconsolable grief.
That’s the key point. Trump’s comments bespeak a refusal to face the human costs of violence and war that could have frightening consequences for American foreign policy.
Trump loves discussing violence. He does it often, and almost always in the same way. When committed by terrorists, criminals, or protesters, violence is horrific, and its perpetrators are subhuman. (“Animals,” is a favorite Trump word.) But when committed by Trump’s side, violence is righteous and heroic, evidence of a functioning moral order. Crucially, it is also cost-free. Trump barely ever admits that violence, when deployed by his side, causes suffering that need disturb his sleep.
Another striking example of Trump’s refusal to face the human consequences of the violence he glorifies comes from his discussion of the NFL. The press has been filled in recent years with stories of former football players driven to suicide by the brain injuries they suffered on the field. But to Trump, they knew what they signed up for. In fact, he’s mocked the NFL for trying to minimize their suffering.
Trump’s discussion of war is similar. He said last October that veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder were not “strong.” He yearns for the good old days when American soldiers did not acknowledge pain, and when law, morality, and empathy did not impede their ability to maim and kill. Trump has repeatedly cited a bogus story about General John J. Pershing killing Muslim terrorists with bullets smeared in pigs’ blood as his model for fighting terrorism. He’s called for torture techniques far “stronger” than waterboarding. And he’s called for killing the families of alleged terrorists.
“I’m really good at war. I love war in a certain way,” Trump told an Iowa rally in 2015, “But only when we win.” It’s plausible that Trump will avoid war with North Korea because he fears America cannot prevail. It is far less likely that he will avoid war because he can’t bear the human cost. He never bears it.
That’s what Myeshia Johnson—who has a six-year-old, a two-year-old, and is pregnant, and who said she doesn’t know what she’ll do without her “soulmate”—confronted Trump with: the human cost. The human cost that doesn’t exist in professional wrestling. The human cost, which proves that violence and war aren’t always grand, manly spectacles, and that America doesn’t always win. The human cost, for which Trump, as commander in chief, bears responsibility.
He couldn’t handle it. His attacks on Wilson suggest he still can’t. He won’t abandon his decades-old intoxication with pretend violence and pretend war. And that makes him a very dangerous man to be leading the most powerful military on earth.
Kathleen Parker follows up on this theme from a different perspective, but it all comes back to Trump's lack of care or concern for the pain of others and his contempt for the truth when it fails to inflate his insatiable ego. Here are column excerpts:
George W. Bush’s speechlast week at a forum hosted by his eponymous institute might as well have been titled “Dear Donald.” The 43rd president all but called out the current president by name as he lamented the tone and character of today’s political rhetoric.
“Bigotry seems emboldened,” Bush said . “Our politics seems more vulnerable to conspiracy theories and outright fabrication.” Indeed.
Trump likes to label these theories and fabrications “fake news,” but “fake news” is Trump’s own invention — and his greatest fabrication to date. Now the rallying cry for millions of Trump supporters, “fake news” is a deflection, a decoy floated on the human sea of credulity to distract people from coverage he finds unflattering. The truth is, what Trump says and does is so often unflattering without embellishment that adjectives and adverbs needn’t apply.
No stranger to media criticism — crushing criticism — Bush never attacked the fourth estate. He also obviously recognizes that worse than a reporter’s or editor’s error is the undermining of public faith in a free press. Once the government succeeds in eliminating a country’s watchdogs, the government becomes the only source of information. Most people know, or should know, how that ends.
Trump’s “fake news” charge is very much in the vein of propaganda. He has created a false narrative to clear obstacles — such as questioning reporters or the hindrance of accountability — from his path.
Russians are also very good at this. Recent revelations about fake Twitter accounts tied to Russia through which genuinely fake news was posted and distributed to influence the 2016 election remind us of how vulnerable we are to real fake news. Unfortunately, Trump has helped blur the line between propaganda and what is otherwise known simply as news.
In other remarks clearly aimed at Trump, Bush addressed bullying and prejudice in public life that “sets a national tone, provides permission for cruelty and bigotry, and compromises the moral education of children.” And: “We can’t wish globalization away, any more than we could wish away the agricultural revolution or the Industrial Revolution.” . . . . As Bush suggested, globalization is the new age and the old one isn’t coming back.