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Shame and Trump

Shame and Trump

By Dennis Loo (8/19/18)

Tony Schwartz, the real writer of The Art of the Deal, has said that what you see when you see Trump is exactly what you get. This is because Trump has no inner life. Trump is as shallow as can be, because he has no functioning superego, no inner compass to tell him when he does wrong. Our sense of shame, which most of us have, is the basis for our getting along with others, our empathy, our ability to put ourselves in other’s shoes and imagine what it like to be in them so that we can show some compassion for others. This absence of an inner life, this inability of Trump to show empathy, is why he can imitate those who are disabled and think it funny, that so upset, for example, actor Meryl Streep, whose stock and trade is putting herself in other’s shoes, which makes her all the more sensitive about this failing of Trump’s. Why the infamous Access Hollywood tape would have shamed anybody else to bow out of the race. Not Trump! 

This in why Trump so far has been temporarily made stronger by his inability to feel shame; because normally feelings of shame are enough to get a person in line with others. Shame is our way of feeling bad that we have hurt others and that they matter. Even Nixon realized eventually that he must resign. No such luck in Trump’s case. Consider his reaction to that meeting his son and others took in NYC with a Russian lawyer promising dirt on Hillary. Every politician does that, according to Trump. It doesn’t even occur to him that this was conspiring with a rival foreign power, and therefore verbotem. Why that meeting alone, for their taking the meeting for the reasons they took it, no matter whether they got what they were promised or not, is reason enough by itself to get rid of him and them!

He thinks that anything he does, even if it’s not in our collective interest, such as being subordinated to Russia, is not good, but that escapes from Trump. The Russians must have something on him that they are blackmailing Trump with – how else do you account for how he and Putin are reading from the same playbook always? – and he is justified in his mind to save his own skin, even if means sacrificing everyone else and the earth in the process.

This is also why blaming the slavishness of the GOP to Trump is mistaken, because as I have been arguing, both major parties are to blame for undermining the truth in the name of rhetoric. Trump is insane. But an insane system birthed him. That system is primarily to blame, not the individual. That neoliberal system has run up against its limits. Hillary as president would still be a sane head on an insane system. 

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