Friday, October 25, 2019

Hostage negotiations

This morning I awoke to learn that the Justice Department is conducting 
a criminal investigation into the origins of the (Justice Department's) Russia investigation 
and whether Democrats (Obama?) spied on Trump. 
Is the president fantasizing that he will finally get to jail Barack and Hillary?

Every morning I wake up, reach for my phone and check the news to see if our president choked on a French fry. Or maybe, overnight, he did that one vile thing even his most steadfast cronies would have to condemn. Or maybe somebody finally got the courage to send the New York Times his tax returns. Or perhaps a recording surfaced that proves, in no uncertain terms, that he’s Putin’s handmaiden, and, maybe, Erdogan’s and al-Assad’s and MbS’s, too. 

Yes. There is that one bad thing that will spell ruin for the man. There has to be. And because it dangles out there, well within that shimmering realm-of-possibility that inspires all my hopeful efforts, I cannot help myself. My phone, my news apps and I are joined at the hip in anticipation. 

While I’m profoundly grateful that this presidency has boosted newspaper sales — because I am a journalist and know my democracy needs good reporting, I am miserably aware how addicted I am to tracking this tweet-crazed whiner. Hope of his imminent demise holds me hostage.

I read a few mornings ago, while propped on pillows, that his aides say his phone calls to the despots are obsequious. In other words, he’s feeling one-down, using hyperbolic tones to leverage favor and mask weakness. There’s puffery involved in such transactional behavior. He puts on as if he’s connected with like-kind, or to the person he so wishes he were. While he twists and wheedles, Putin sits, smug and silent.  

The president fawns and those with the real power try not to look.

There’s some solo sex play in the mix, as well. Our man at the top appears to be mentally masturbating when holding forth at rallies or fawning over authoritarians like Putin and Kim Jong-un and crowd size. The pleasure is derived from delusion, of course. But it’s pleasure all the same. Just watch his jaws clamp, his posture stiffen and his lips purse. 

My news feeds come with video. Curled on my side, feeling utterly fetal, I watch every gesture with the same intensity that Alec Baldwin must, as he hones his own Saturday Night Live version of a bitterly deluded man tottering on a precipice. There we all are — media, Baldwin, me, and half the electorate — hypervigilant in our expectancy. You go, my beloved pre-dawn companions/fixes — New York Times, Washington Post, Guardian, Boston Globe, New Yorker et al. I read this morning that he’s banned some of you from our government offices. Hang in there!

“Hey Siri, play WNYC.”

Lots of people say America elected a malignant narcissist. I say he’s holding us hostage, the way narcissists do. If you’ve known one, you also know there’s practically no way to peel this scourge off our collective body short of voting him out of office, something talk show host Bill Maher says may not be enough. A French fry or piece of overcooked steak slathered in ketchup or that singularly irreversible act I’m waiting for could do it. Otherwise, as Maher worries, we may have to pry him out of there. 

Bill Maher thinks Trump won't leave office willingly.
Michael Moore says the president is the grenade
 a dissatisfied electorate tossed at our dysfunctional democracy.

When “Celebrity Apprentice” aired, all we had to do was turn off the TV or click past the insufferable bloviator. There are people in this country, me included, who would rather watch toilets flush than tune into “Celebrity Apprentice.” But now that he’s president, Trump is the train wreck many of us cannot tear ourselves away from — even at 4 a.m. 

Michael Moore called him the grenade our incensed electorate tossed at a failed democracy. If it’s incendiary devices we’re talking about here, I’d rather he be a time bomb that is, at last, ticking down a la Mr. Creosote in Monty Python’s “The Meaning of Life.” Mr. Creosote indulged himself at dinner until he downed that now infamous thin mint and boom. He blew up. I have faith that there exists that last little thing that will blast the self-pitying narcissist out of the Oval Office.
Mr. Creosote is pictured here before the explosive,
self-indulgent feeding frenzy.
Clearly I am not the first one to liken the president to Mr. Creosote. 

Narcissism’s stranglehold, not just on our country, but on the world has serious consequences. Psychiatrists. Heads of state. People. Me. Past presidents. Dump your honor code. Seize courage. Speak out. Did we not think it was horrifying to watch the president of Finland bow his head while Donald Trump ranted incoherently? Hey, we all bow. He’s our president and we are polite, honorable people. Regular people are defenseless sitting ducks for gas-lighting narcissists. 

It’s the nature of the disorder that our self-indulgent, uninhibited world leader is nonetheless fueled by shame, hatred, rage and a need to retaliate for every single perceived slight. Members of my family with the disease sued their gardeners, employers, a major hospital in Los Angeles, ex-husbands, neighbors, Amtrak and on two occasions their fathers. As gifted and blessed as these people were, nothing was ever enough. Narcissists expect everything and give nothing other than an intoxicating if short-lived charm. Dr. Karyl McBride, author of the book about narcissism titled, “Will I Ever Be Free of You,” strongly cautioned that the best thing to do is never get involved. If you do — well, all I can say is, ‘Sorry.’ Expect to be plagued for the rest of your life because narcissists hold grudges the way barnacles hold onto ships hulls. You have to pry them off with a sharp instrument and a lot of force.

As in, “You’re fired!”

YOU'RE FIRED! Well, two can play at this game, mister.

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