TRUMP SEES BOOGEYMEN: TWEETS. WHAT’S REAL IN TRUMP’S AMERICA?
Paranoia and power are a lethal mix. We’ve watched it corrupt and corrode over the years.
Lyndon Johnson in a downward spiral, saddled with the unwinnable Vietnam quagmire started ranting “the communists already control the three major networks and the forty major outlets of communication.” He lay in bed with the covers over his head bemoaning the hopeless mess he found himself in. Nixon drank and raged, enemies list in hand, watching his presidency eaten alive by Watergate. “When the president does it, that means it’s not illegal,” the most desperate rationale for law-breaking ever uttered. John Quincy Adams hounded by a secret conspiracy of Freemasons, bound by oath to an ancient morality. Even Hillary Clinton had her “vast right-wing conspiracy.”
I’m not suggesting all these people were clinically paranoid, but the world-view from the pinnacle of power can appear dark and sinister, to the point where reality begins to recede, and monsters lurk behind every bush.
When the pressure mounts, very few of us are immune. I’ve been relentlessly attacked in my life by family and friends, and it wears on you. It really does. It makes you angry and hurt and lost. It makes you misunderstood. And that’s just me in my personal life. Imagine all that focused on you from every corner of the world. And imagine you have in your hands the power of revenge.
Is there anything more darkly seductive than revenge?
The people I mentioned above were all highly experienced, highly educated, and highly motivated by public service. It was when their terms were winding down the paranoia began to creep in.
Now we come to Donald Trump.
Here’s a guy born with a silver spoon in his mouth, who has never wanted for anything, who acts like he won the presidency by accident, and who has a long and storied flirtation with every conspiracy theory that ever floated by his coiffed head.
It’s hard to explain or believe why someone who has access to all the information this data-battered world could ever produce, relies on a radio hack from New Jersey for his intel. FBI, no, CIA, no, Breitbart blog, yes. Life is very strange in the pampered country club on the Florida coast.
Our current so-called president is barely sixty days into the gig and already as paranoid as hell. Where do we go from here?
We know the presidency is going to crush him. It crushes everybody who does the job. Now and then somebody takes it on and aces the non-stoppedness of the office, emerging with gray hair but soul intact. And then there are folks like Reagan, who spent the last two years of his presidency rambling through the corridors of power in a growing fog. I know he was fighting a heart-breaking disease, but what does it say about his staff they hid it from us? Paranoia doesn’t stop in the Oval Office.
In any management situation, the top guy sets the tone. And the tone in the White House these days is confused, uneven, inconsistent, angry and well, paranoid. The Free Press is the enemy. The Town Halls sieged by paid agitators. Judges pre-judge. Former presidents tap the phones. Intelligence agencies leak. The world is on the verge of the Apocalypse. Any day now. Just wait.
It’s not going to succeed. It never does. Paranoia destroys. It wrecks lives and countries too. Trump plays with paranoia. He uses it as a vehicle to power. But paranoia is a corrosive element. It eats at reason and logic and leaves you with nothing but shadows and fears. Every junkie I ever knew told me they had things under control. Every drunk as well. They are all in control until they aren’t. Trump is like that. And it worked for him atop his brown 58-story tower in Manhattan, but he’s come down from the tower now. He’s in the gutters of democracy, and the attacks are coming in from every angle, 24/7, non-stop, no place to hide. He can’t go to his home in Manhattan. The crowds lay siege to his tower and howl into the night. So he hides out on a private golf course, far from the raised voices of the mob and sharpened lens of the press. Distraction becomes the only recourse from the paranoia raging in his head. And then in the dark hours of the night, when the nightmares roam, he tweets.
• Suspicion, without grounds.
• Only trusting yourself.
• Difficulty working with others.
• Reading threats into harmless remarks or events.
• Rapid anger reactions.
Those are the warning signs of rising paranoia. I get the presidency of the United States can be a stressful experience, beyond the imagination of mere mortals, but Trump has barely gotten his feet wet and already he checks off every bullet point on the list above. He doesn’t stand a chance. There’s no if here. There’s only when. When the fall comes how much damage will the nation sustain?