Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Never Weak


Lawrence O'Donnell is wrong- probably. You can see and hear O'Donnell beginning at 37:00 of the video below remarking

And the one thing we know Donald Trump has never felt about 9/11 is grief. In his lifelong quest for attention, Donald Trump managed to get himself on local television in New York City on 9/11 after both of the World Trade Center towers fell and he had no idea how to even begin to express grief because of course couldn't feel any. Instead the feeling he had that day on 9/11, the thing he found in himself was pride- pride in himself that he believed he now had the tallest building in lower Manhattan now that the World Trade Center had collapsed.

(Video of World Trade Center smoldering while Trump comments on New York television.)

Did you hear any grief there? That was on 9/11. And it wasn't grief that the President felt today when he got off Air Force One in Pennsylvania to attend the 9/11 commemoration of Flight 93 that takes place there every year. There is only one President in our history who cold arrive at such a solemn and tragic commemoration and behave as if he were arriving at a rally.





But Trump's lack of grief probably is secondary to his fear of showing weakness. David Ignatius believes that Bob Woodward's tome "Fear" demonstrates

When Trump is on the verge of doing something conciliatory — apologizing for a racist or sexist comment, for example — he stops himself for fear that it will show weakness. Trump (prodded by his Iago-like deputy macho-man, Steve Bannon) keeps insisting that he must stay strong, regardless of how unprincipled it may seem.

Woodward’s narrative of the weakness phobia begins at the low point of the campaign, with the revelation of the “Access Hollywood” tape in which Trump boasts about grabbing women’s genitals. His aides have written a statement in which Trump would concede, “My language was inappropriate, not acceptable for a president.” But Trump protests: “I can’t do this. This is bull****. This is weak. You guys are weak"....

Anxiety about weakness mounts when Trump is in the White House. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has many faults in Trump’s eyes. He’s too friendly to Europe, too willing to accommodate Iran, too independent in his views. But Trump sums up the problem at a July 2017 meeting: “Rex, you’re weak.”

The most appalling instance of placing image above principle comes after Trump’s waffling comments about the August 2017 clash between white nationalists and counter-protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia. Rob Porter, Trump’s staff secretary, encourages the president to give a conciliatory statement.

Despite fears that it “looked weak,” Trump follows Porter’s advice and, using a teleprompter, tells the nation: “We must love each other, show affection for each other and unite together in condemnation of hatred, bigotry and violence.”

When Fox News reports a “course correction” on Charlottesville, the president panics. “That was the biggest f***ing mistake I’ve made,” he tells Porter. “You never make those concessions. You never apologize. I didn’t do anything wrong in the first place. Why look weak?”....

In my own conversations with top White House aides, I’ve seen a similar obsession with shows of strength. Reversing long-standing positions on the Israeli-Palestinian dispute is a “strong position.” Preserving the Iran nuclear agreement is a “weak position.” Perception is policy.

And what about Trump’s ruinous legal problems with special counsel Robert Mueller? They’re the fault of Trump’s chicken-hearted lawyers, of course. Woodward quotes the tough-guy-in-chief. “I don’t have any good lawyers. … I’ve got a bunch of lawyers who are not aggressive, who are weak, who don’t have my best interests in mind, who aren’t loyal. It’s just a disaster.

Unless done adroitly, there is a thin line between demonstrating sensitivity by expressing grief and sadness- and appearing weak.  In the instances Ignatius cites, Trump was afraid of evincing weakness. And so the man who should have retired the Oscar for his performance as a tough, no-nonsense executive in The Apprentice "stays strong, however of how unprincipled it may seem."

Or Donald Trump may be that extraordinarily unusual individual who doe not show grief because he does not grieve, in which case he should be prevailed upon to donate his mind and body to science. If done immediately, he would be doing science and the world a great service. However, it is a little more likely that the obvious lack of compassion or sensitivity is the great con man putting on an act and pretending to be the great alpha male.




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