Over the New Year’s weekend, Trump made two statements. Both reveal conjoined facets of his personality. Both are deeply disturbing, and call into question, once again, his mental fitness to be president.
The first, concerning #Electiongate—which Trump still denies had anything to do with his BFF, Vladimir Putin—was: “The whole age of computer has made it where nobody knows exactly what’s going on.” This is very telling, because it implies Trump’s worldview that, since objective reality no longer exists (if it ever did), then the interpretation of reality is an emotional act, rather than fact-based; in this sport, Truth is the first casualty. This is what we would expect from a person who has based his political career on lies. “Nobody knows exactly what’s going on.” That is so Trumpian. If nobody knows what’s going on, then when Trump says he won an electoral landslide, maybe it’s true (even though it was a lie). If he said Obama was born in Kenya (even though that was a lie), maybe it really is true; if nobody knows what’s going on, then anything is possible. If he said he won the popular vote except for “millions” of illegal voters in California—another massive lie–that too may be true in some parallel universe, if nobody knows what’s going on. So we shouldn’t be surprised that Trump loves a world in which “facts” are as mythical as unicorns. He thrives in such a world, which he cohabits with (let’s face it) ignorant people who, like him, don’t believe in truth, or in any valid external reality. This is Trump as propagandist, spinmeister, deliberate obfuscater. This is also the incoming President of the United States: a man who can’t tell the difference between truth and falsehood or, if he can, doesn’t care. Our response should be: Actually, Mr. Trump, many of us do know what’s going on. And we are going to make sure the Age of Trump is mercifully brief.
His second statement, via—what else?—Twitter, was made on New Year’s Eve. It followed an earlier remark he made in which he called for unity following the divisive election: “Now it’s time for America to bind the wounds of division; have to get together…I pledge to every citizen of our land that I will be president for all Americans.”
Very inspiring! Very Lincoln-esque, for those who missed the reference to Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address. Whoever had the chutzpah to associate Trump with Abraham Lincoln–Kellyanne Conway?–is truly living in an alternate universe! Or maybe they were just being perverse.
But a little while later, sitting in front of his computer, Trump just couldn’t resist the impulse to let his vindictive, mean self emerge. “Happy New Year to all, including to my many enemies and those who have fought me and lost so badly they just don’t know what to do. Love!”
Suddenly the spirit of “binding wounds” is shoved ruthlessly aside, and Trump’s dark Nixonian streak crawls out. Enemies! Wow. I thought the enemy was Islamic terrorism. But, no, in Trump world it’s the 66 million Americans who voted for Hillary Clinton—3 million more than voted for him. He isn’t even sworn in yet and already he’s calling Americans who disagree with him his “enemies.”
I don’t know how that makes you feel, but for me, it’s frightening and highly discouraging. Any hope we might have had that this was going to be a decent presidency is disappearing by the second, with every stupid tweet, every ongoing lie, every revelation that at the core of Trump’s consciousness is a black lump of resentment and anger. (Of course, those are the very factors that turned his voters on, because they share them.)
I believe that our initial confusion in the immediate aftermath of the election—“OMG, what do we do now?”—is quickly clarifying into resolution. The #NotMyPresident and #TheResistance movements are gathering steam. Multiple counter-inaugural activities are scheduled for Jan. 20-21. The entertainment industry is giving him the finger; Trump is unable to find any entertainers for his big inauguration, except for the white supremacist has-been Ted Nugent and the rockin’ Mormon Tabernacle Choir.
Meanwhile, a massive counter-inaugural event, “We the People,” is taking shape that could be one of the biggest shows since Woodstock. Donald Trump surely is aware that more Americans hate and fear him than ever before for any incoming president in modern history. A morally-anchored POTUS—a Barack Obama—would be deeply troubled by this, and would be searching his soul for ways to reach out, reconcile, change hearts and minds (as, indeed, Obama did when he was elected, and never stopped trying to do).
Instead, we have a Trump whining about his “enemies.” As he himself might tweet, #Pathetic.