Because I have watched MSNBC’s Morning Joe for so long now, I guess I have become sort of use to what has been happening. The show has, after all, become a platform for defending, advising, and promoting Drumpf, who is friends with or acquaintances of most of the regulars on the show. They just can’t bring themselves to admit the obvious about him.
Today was no different. Morning Joe’s opening segment at 7:00 am CST was all about that New York Times article (“Crossing the Line: How Donald Trump Behaved With Women in Private“) published over the weekend that documented some of Drumpf’s boorish encounters with women, claims of sexual harassment, as well as a few of the good things he has done in promoting women in his business. Morning Joe, though, was all about attacking the Times rather than criticizing Drumpf’s behavior. Panelist Donny Deutsch, who has admitted to being a Friend of Drumpf, even gave him a hint this morning on how to proceed: hit the whole Jeffrey Epstein-Bill Clinton thang. It really was an embarrassment for MSNBC, although it won’t stop. Drumpf = ratings. And insulting Drumpf = boycott. Thus.
I just wanted to remind you of something critically important that may, now, get lost because one of the women in the Times report said her story was misused by the newspaper and that she “did not have a negative experience” with Drumpf. What may get lost has nothing to do with that Times article. Anyone paying attention knows that Drumpf’s problems with women have much more to do with what he has said since he has been a candidate than any revelation that he once had the hots for a model, whom he outfitted in a bikini so he could show off her assets to a group of Drumpf groupies at a Mar-a-Lago pool party, the same model who now says she was flattered by the whole episode.
So, before it gets lost in the storm of nonsense and ugliness that is the Drumpf campaign, before it gets lost in the ADHD-like television coverage of that nonsense and ugliness, let’s look at a weird story, published in The Washington Post on May 13, “Donald Trump masqueraded as publicist to brag about himself.” I know by now you know most of the details—Drumpf posing as publicists “John Miller” and “John Barron”—so I won’t go into them. Suffice it to say that the story, if it weren’t about Drumpf, would, like so many other things he has said and done, doom anyone else. It would disgrace any other presidential candidate, who would slink away with a shame-hung head. But this is Drumpf. His answer to it? Lie. He didn’t do it. The voice that everyone knows was his, on those phone calls to reporters, wasn’t his, he says. And his groupies, both professionals and amateurs, are behind him. If he says it wasn’t him, it wasn’t. Move on. No biggie. There are more important things to talk about.
Surprisingly, the journalists I have seen covering this issue on television, and those paid to be “analysts,” have it all wrong. They are focusing on the lie Drumpf told. They want him to come clean about that. Their coverage goes something like this: “If only Drumpf would simply admit he was ‘John Miller’ or ‘John Barron’ and confess to doing something dumb, a joke really, this would all go away and we’d move on to something else.” I heard CNN’s Chris Cuomo say something like that the other day.
Well, no. That isn’t the point.
We all know Drumpf is a liar. That has been established beyond doubt, just as it has been established beyond doubt that he was John Miller and John Barron (he has actually admitted as much before). So, any revelation that he is currently lying about the fact he was pretending to be his own publicist would not be surprising. It would just be an addition to what we already knew. What we don’t know is what it is that makes a prominent man do something so clumsy and crass. What is it in his brain that makes him want to do it in the first place, but then—most important to me—what makes him think no one would catch him doing it? That’s what has been lost in all this. There is, truly, something wrong with his mind, with his thought process, with his ability to understand what is going on in other minds.
I’ve said before that since I’m not a medical doctor, I can’t diagnose Drumpf’s problems—although others have done so. We can all see that he acts and talks like a narcissist. We can see that he lies, when telling the truth would be a much easier path to follow. His lying appears to be pathological. We can all see that Tiny Hands is insecure, which also appears to be some kind of disease. All that is troubling enough. But think about it. This man called reporters, reporters who knew his voice, pretending to be someone else. Why couldn’t he figure out in advance that those reporters would know it was his voice? That he would be asked about it? That he would be asked to produce John Miller and John Barron at some point, since they allegedly worked for him? Huh? And why can’t he see that now?
Disturbing stuff. And it isn’t just limited to gossip magazines or tabloids. It has real-world implications. Consider Drumpf’s embrace of Vladimir Putin. In that sorry case, did some kind of pathological disorder get the best of Drumpf? Remember that Putin, a murderous authoriatarian, said the GOP candidate was “a very bright and talented man,” and an “absolute leader.” Rather than responding as any normal American would do, that is, by rejecting the endorsement of a trained and practiced Russian killer, Drump said,
When people call you brilliant, it’s always good, especially when the person heads up Russia.
“It’s always good.” Always. If Charles Manson calls you brilliant from his prison cell, that’s good. If Kim Jong-un takes time out of his busy day in North Korea and calls you brilliant, that’s good, too. For a Drumpfed-up mind, there are no conditions under which receiving flattery is a negative.
When confronted with the charge that Putin has either ordered the killing of journalists in Russia or created a climate in which they could be essentially killed with impunity, Drumpf has responded in different ways. Once he said, “Well, I think our country does plenty of killing, too…” Another time,
Nobody has proven that he’s killed anyone. … He’s always denied it. It’s never been proven that he’s killed anybody. You’re supposed to be innocent until proven guilty, at least in our country. It has not been proven that he’s killed reporters.
Now, that comes from a man who, with exactly no evidence to back him up, has questioned Barack Obama’s citizenship and Christianity, who says he sent investigators, perhaps John Miller and John Barron, to Hawaii and “they cannot believe what they’re finding.” It comes from a man who, just last year as a presidential candidate, said of President Obama, “I don’t know if he loves America.” Who said, “I wonder if President Obama would have attended the funeral of Justice Scalia if it were held in a Mosque?”
Giving the benefit of the doubt to a horrific Russian despot who strategically strokes your ego, while trashing the credibility of your own president, is a symptom of some profound personal problem, as far as I’m concerned as an American. It demonstrates that Drumpf’s awareness of himself, that his perception of others, is twisted. It proves that he is unfit to be our commander-in-chief because his judgment about what may be happening in the minds of other people, whether they are reporters or world leaders, is so utterly and hopelessly flawed.
Drumpf’s petty attempt to pass himself off as publicists John Miller and John Barron—and expect that he could get away with it—just adds to the case that he is a very disturbed man. But it is also disturbing that much of the press, at least on television, isn’t that interested in the original disqualifying behavior, but only in getting Drumpf to admit to it so cable news can move on to the next act in this gloomy Gong Show. Perhaps the only thing that can save us all is if Drumpf comes out soon and lets us in on his little joke. And The Washington Post can write a new article, “Donald Trump masqueraded as presidential candidate to brag about himself.”
[Mural image by artist Mindaugas Bonanu]