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“Will Trump Last The Election?”: Republicans Are On The Verge Of Nominating A Psychological Cripple

An ordinary sociopath would have known to pretend shock and sorrow after the terrible mass murders in Orlando. Shielded from ordinary human interaction by his arrogance and wealth, however, presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump had no clue how to act. So he sent out an instinctive, self-serving reaction on Twitter:

“Appreciate the congrats for being right on radical Islamic terrorism, I don’t want congrats, I want toughness & vigilance. We must be smart!”

Meghan McCain, Arizona Sen. John McCain’s daughter, reacted incredulously: You’re congratulating yourself because 50 people are dead this morning in a horrific tragedy?”

Even more pointed was GOP consultant and TV talking-head Ana Navarro: “Translating Trump: ‘20 people [sic] are dead. 42 people are injured. But of course, 1st, it’s all about Me. Me. Me.’ Ugh.”

Both women spoke for millions. Is there no tragedy so grave, no sorrow so profound, that it can penetrate the hardened carapace of Donald Trump’s ego?

Clearly not. Unless polls showing a steep drop in Trump’s chances to win the presidency are all wrong, many Americans are just now awakening to that reality. Unless they find some way to save themselves, Republicans are on the verge of nominating a psychological cripple: an ego-driven, self-obsessed narcissist preoccupied with fantasies of power, and incapable of empathy.

Too harsh? Overnight, Trump doubled-down. In an interview on Fox News, he allowed as how President Obama had not only failed to prevent ISIS-inspired homophobe Omar Mateen from massacring fifty innocent souls in Orlando’s Pulse nightclub, but that he’s probably a traitor.

“Look, we’re led by a man that either is not tough, not smart, or he’s got something else in mind. And the something else in mind — you know, people can’t believe it,” he said. “People cannot, they cannot believe that President Obama is acting the way he acts and can’t even mention the words ‘radical Islamic terrorism.’ There’s something going on. It’s inconceivable. There’s something going on… [Obama] doesn’t get it or he gets it better than anybody understands — it’s one or the other and either one is unacceptable.”

In his withering fashion, the president dismissed Trump’s “yapping” while pronouncing the supposedly forbidden words “radical Islamists.”

“It’s a political talking point,” he said. “It’s not a strategy…”Not once has an adviser of mine said, ‘Man, if we really use that phrase, we’re going to turn this whole thing around.’ Not once.”

Obama’s mockery makes Trump crazy precisely because it diminishes his shaky self-esteem. People who are genuinely self-confident don’t feel the need for constant boasting. The clinical term for what ails the candidate is “Narcissistic Personality Disorder.”

Improperly—shrinks aren’t supposed to diagnose public figures they haven’t met—but no doubt accurately, a growing number of clinicians have used the phrase to explain Trump’s disturbing personality traits.

“He’s so classic that I’m archiving video clips of him to use in workshops because there’s no better example of his characteristics,” psychologist George Simon, who conducts seminars on manipulative behavior, told Vanity Fair.

“He’s like a dream come true.”

And that was back last fall during GOP debates, when Carly Fiorina, Jeb Bush and Megyn Kelly were Trump’s targets of choice. Having bluffed and bulldozed his way into the Republican nomination, the candidate now finds himself in a new world where different rules apply. He appears incapable of adjusting.

“Success emboldens malignant narcissists to become even more grandiose, reckless and aggressive,” writes psychologist John D. Gartner. “Sure enough, after winning the nomination, there has been no ‘pivot’ towards more reasonable behavior and ideas, just the opposite. He has become more shrill, combative and openly racist.”

Trump’s unprovoked attacks on Judge Gonzalo Curiel’s ethnicity appear to have repulsed even voters resentful of liberal cant about racism, but who do think of themselves as fair. In consequence, fully 56 percent in a recent ABC News/Washington Post poll had a “strongly unfavorable” view of Trump—the kind of judgement that may be irreversible.

Josh Marshall sums things up from a political perspective: “Almost every day since he clinched the nomination almost six weeks ago has been a surreal tour through Trump’s damaged psyche – the insecurities, silly feuds, the mix of self-serving lies and attacks on people he’s supposed to be courting…The daily particulars are so mesmerizing that you have to step back to see that Trump isn’t even running a campaign.”

So now we learn that the Trump campaign is flat broke. How can that be? This is a guy claims who he’s worth $10 billion and who was supposed to be self-financing his campaign. Except now he’s not.

Ten billion is 10,000 million. If Trump were anywhere near that rich, the $42 million in Hillary Clinton’s campaign coffers would be chump change.

Can he sustain this act until November? Can Trump’s fragile psyche risk losing to a girl?

I’m starting to have my doubts.

 

By: Gene Lyons, The National Memo, June 22, 2016

June 22, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Narcissitic Personality Disorder, Republicans | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Trump’s Apocalyptic Message”: Obama Just Ripped Into Donald Trump’s Nightmare Vision Of America. He’s Right

This afternoon President Obama offered his most detailed and comprehensive attack on Donald Trump, not just the particular things Trump proposes but his entire worldview. He was particularly contemptuous of the idea that once we speak the magical words “radical Islamic terror” the entire effort against terrorism will be transformed.

But for the moment I want to focus on this part of his critique of Trump, referencing Trump’s proposal to ban Muslims from the country and his placing blame on all Muslims for individual acts of violence:

“We’ve gone through moments in our history before when we acted out of fear and we came to regret it. We’ve seen our government mistreat our fellow citizens, and it has been a shameful part of our history. This is a country founded on basic freedoms, including freedom of religion. We don’t have religious tests here. Our founders, our Constitution, our Bill of Rights are clear about that. And if we ever abandon those values, we would not only make it easier to radicalize people here and around the world, but we would have betrayed the very things we are trying to protect: the pluralism, and the openness, our rule of law, our civil liberties, the very things that make this country great. The very things that make us exceptional.”

Obama then went on to talk about how inspired he was by the cadets he saw at the Air Force Academy when we spoke at their commencement. “That’s the American military. That’s America. One team. One nation.”

There’s a formula presidents usually follow when they speak to the country after a tragedy, whether it’s a terrorist attack, a natural disaster, or an accident like a space shuttle blowing up. Express the sorrow and pain people are feeling. Praise those whose lives were lost. Emphasize the common purpose we all share (or ought to). Invoke fundamental American ideals that bind us together. And promise that out of the darkness we will become stronger, our future even brighter than our present or our past.

Some presidents weave those elements together more skillfully than others, but nearly all try to both mirror the public’s emotions and give them reason to hope. But not Donald Trump.

At moments like the Orlando shooting, we’re reminded of just how bleak and miserable Trump’s vision of America is, even when we haven’t just suffered a tragedy. It’s been said that presidential elections are usually won by the most optimistic candidate, and that will certainly be tested this year. That’s because there may never have been a candidate who sees America as such a dystopic nightmare of gloom and despair.

It’s not that Trump doesn’t say things will be great when he’s president, because he does. But his critique of the current state of the country goes far beyond what opposition candidates ordinarily say. A challenger will always argue that the party in power has been wrong about everything as they instituted disastrous policies. But Trump’s argument goes deeper, into the very heart of the nation as a whole. “When was the last time we’ve seen our country win at anything?” he says. “We don’t win anymore.”

Try to imagine, for instance, what would happen if Hillary Clinton said, “This country is a hellhole. We are going down fast.” It’s difficult to contemplate, because a careful politician like Clinton would never say such a thing in a million years. But Trump did, and he says similar things all the time. “America is being taken apart piece by piece,” he said a week ago. “We’re broke…Our infrastructure is a disaster. Our schools are failing. Crime is rising. People are scared.” And that was in a victory speech. Or as he’s said before, “Our country is going to hell.”

When he looks at a non-Trump future, he sees outright apocalypse. “If we don’t get tough, and we don’t get smart – and fast – we’re not going to have a country anymore,” he said in his speech yesterday on terrorism. “There will be nothing left.” What does that mean, “nothing left”? Are we all going to be dead? Will America itself cease to exist, wiped off the map like Yugoslavia? It’s hard to tell, but it sure won’t be good.

That’s not to mention that, like his assertion about crime (which is at historic lows), so much of what Trump says about the living nightmare that is America is just false. We’re not “the highest taxed nation in the world.” There are not “tens of thousands” of terrorists streaming into the country. GDP growth is not “essentially zero.” The unemployment rate is not “42 percent,” and we don’t have “93 million people out of work.”

And don’t forget that when he wrote his campaign book, instead of giving it a title like “Into the Future” or “America Ascending” or “Greatness Awaits,” Trump called it “Crippled America.”

That’s not to say that Trump’s apocalyptic message doesn’t resonate with some people. He has tapped into a vein of discontentment, particularly among those who feel like they’re being left behind by demographic changes and a modernizing, diverse society. If you feel profoundly unsettled when you hear two people speaking Spanish on the street, Trump is your guy. He regularly laments the fact that we don’t know “What the hell is going on” on some topic or other, often immigration or national security. That notion — of being confused and bewildered by a world that doesn’t seem to make sense in the way it did back when you were young — is obviously powerful for some voters.

Trump may promise that once we elect him we’ll find ourselves living in a paradise of winning-ness, where the most serious question that confronts each of us is which 20-something Slovenian supermodel we want to make our fourth or fifth spouse. But his unceasing descriptions of our nation’s allegedly endless suffering also says something profoundly miserable about not only our country but ourselves.

You might find the typical politician’s paeans to America’s optimistic spirit overdone or trite, but when someone like George W. Bush says that “Americans live on the sunrise side of the mountain,” even if you don’t agree with him politically, you want that to be true of yourself and your country. It’s part of a politician’s job to not only promise greatness, but to assure the country that we have it in us to reach it. When Donald Trump talks, on the other hand, he tells us that only he can change our ghastly condition, and we ourselves will have barely any part of it. “I will give you everything,” he promises. “I will give you what you’ve been looking for for 50 years. I’m the only one.”

The clear message is that if we don’t pick him, we won’t just be making the wrong choice, we’ll doom ourselves to sink further into the unending torment we’ve made for ourselves. And we’ll deserve it.

 

By: Paul Waldman, Senior Writer, The American Prospect; Contributor, The Plum Line Blog, The Washington Post, June 14, 2016

June 17, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Fearmongering, Orlando Shootings | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Let’s Talk Specifics”: Seven Things That Show The GOP Candidates Are Clueless About The Islamic State

As everyone knows, when it comes to fighting the Islamic State, Barack Obama is a weak and feckless president who has no strategy to defeat this terrifying enemy. The Republicans running to replace him, on the other hand, are ready to go with their strong and decisive strategies — just put one of them in office and let him implement his strategy, and this whole thing will be mopped up forthwith.

That’s what they say, of course. But the truth is that they have no clue what to do about this problem. To a degree, you can’t blame them — if there was an easy solution, the administration certainly would have been more than happy to use it. The trouble is that there are nothing but bad options. But presidential candidates aren’t supposed to express caution and concern about unintended consequences. They have to be confident and strong, assuring voters that there’s no problem they can’t solve.

But if you want to know how to spot a candidate who has no idea what to do about the Islamic State, a good place to start is this interview with Ted Cruz by Molly O’Toole of Defense One. O’Toole does exactly what I’m constantly begging reporters to do — not accuse the candidate of being a hypocrite or asking him to criticize his opponents, but demand specificity. That’s how we learn whether he’s just blowing smoke. Unfortunately, Cruz is a champion smoke-blower, and he evades most of her questions until they get too uncomfortable, at which point he literally shuts a door in her face (an elevator door, in this case).

In the course of this brief interview, Cruz hits on most of the key tells that make clear Republicans have no more of a strategy for the Islamic State than anybody else. Here’s a list of things to watch out for when candidates are talking about their “strategies”:

  1. We need a leader who leads, with leadership. This idea is expressed in various ways; in this case, Cruz starts explaining how he’d fight the Islamic State by saying that “We didn’t win the Cold War until we had a president who stood up and led…” Another way of putting it is, as Marco Rubio and others have said, that Obama lacks the proper “sense of urgency” about the problem. But that’s not a strategy, it’s a feeling. Saying “I’ll feel differently than Obama does when I’m in the Oval Office” doesn’t tell us anything about what a candidate would actually do.
  2. Bomb the hell out of them. This sounds strong and resolute, but it’s important to keep in mind that we’ve been bombing pretty much every target we can find. According to the Air Force, as of the end of November we had dropped 31,873 bombs and missiles in this operation. It’s true that the military has taken care not to kill significant numbers of civilians, which is a challenge because the Islamic State controls a number of cities. In theory we could just “carpet-bomb” those cities, as Cruz proposes (he says “carpet-bomb ISIS,” but when it’s pointed out to him that they’re located in cities, he evades the question of whether he actually wants to carpet-bomb cities), but that would be extraordinarily counter-productive, not to mention morally abominable and probably a war crime. And yes, despite what Republicans would have you believe, we are bombing their oil facilities. So “Bomb them, but, you know, more” isn’t a strategy either.
  3. Arm the Kurds. This sounds like a good idea — the Kurds are our allies, and they’ve been extremely successful in fighting the Islamic State where they have chosen to do so. The problem (other than the fact that our ally Turkey is deeply opposed to anything that would strengthen them) is that the Kurds have their own agenda in Iraq and Syria, one that isn’t exactly the same as ours. They’ll happily fight to take control of Kurdish areas, but they aren’t interested in becoming an occupying army in Arab areas. You can make a case that arming the Kurds is a good thing, despite Turkey’s objections. But giving them more arms isn’t going to rout the Islamic State out of most of the places where it exists.
  4. Get somebody else’s boots on the ground. With the partial exception of Lindsey Graham, all the Republican candidates acknowledge to one degree or another that an American invasion is going to cause more trouble than it’s worth. So the answer many offer is to assemble an army of boots from our coalition partners, preferably Sunni Arabs, who can go in there and occupy the area without generating so much resistance and resentment from the local population. And how will they convince countries like Egypt and Saudi Arabia that have been unwilling so far to contribute those troops to do so? Well…they just will. With strength and resolve, I guess. If they can’t say why those countries will be willing to do a year from now what they’re unwilling to do today, they’re expressing a fantasy, not a plan.
  5. A no-fly zone. There are reasonable arguments for and against establishing a no-fly zone over parts of Syria. But it has nothing to do with the Islamic State, which doesn’t have an air force. If you want to argue that a no-fly zone is necessary to stop Bashar al-Assad from bombing civilians, that’s fine. But you can’t pretend it does something to hasten the Islamic State’s demise.
  6. Do whatever is necessary. This is a clear tell that the candidate has run out of ideas, but just wants to communicate toughness and resolve. Ted Cruz says this a lot. It’s a way of saying you’ll do something without actually saying what you’ll do. And of course…
  7. Call it “Radical Islamic Terrorism.” This magical incantation, once uttered by the commander in chief, is supposed to bring us to the very brink of victory. But how? Here’s a question I’d like to hear a Republican candidate answer. Let’s say that tomorrow, President Obama said, “You know what? My critics are right. We are facing Radical Islamic Terrorism.” What would change?

The answer is: nothing. And if someone is arguing that the most important thing we need to do in order to accomplish a goal is something that will do nothing to accomplish that goal, it’s a good sign that they don’t have any actual ideas.

 

By: Paul Waldman, Senior Writer, The American Prospect; Contributor, The Plum Line Blog, December 11, 2015

December 15, 2015 Posted by | GOP Presidential Candidates, ISIS, Terrorism | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

   

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