For a long time, I felt that watching Donald Trump closely was like observing a deadly animal in a zoo: Compassionless, predatory, operating entirely on instinct. But now it’s starting to feel like a psychology class, specifically “Introduction to Personality Disorders.”
In the last week, we’ve observed some behaviors and learned a few new facts that seem to embarrassingly expose the candidate’s weird neurosis. It’s hard not to try to offer an armchair diagnosis of the poor, sick man.
For example, the weirdest revelation was that all available evidence seems to indicate that he used to pose as his own spokesman to call reporters and brag about himself. Back in 1991, the spokesperson went by “John Miller” or “John Baron,” and although there’s no evidence that a person by either name actually ever worked for Trump, the person was captured on a recording sounds exactly like Donald Trump.
The voice uses the same cadence and makes the same idiotic nonsense-statements as Trump. Nothing he says is coherent except to brag about Trump’s money or prowess with women. The whole thing is insane, and everyone who hears it says, “Oh, that’s just Donald Trump.”
It’s hard to believe that Trump wouldn’t have expected anyone ever to figure out that it was him. But then again, there was hardly an internet back in 1991 and Trump has never seemed to care about what people think of him. His primary interest is simply talking about himself in glowing terms, and everyone else dismissively.
He uses a rhetorical technique that, oddly enough, evokes the poet Homer, who tended to add nicknames to his characters. Trump always does the same, referring to his political adversaries with mocking nicknames like “Little Marco” and “Goofy Elizabeth Warren.”
His latest work is to brand Bernie Sanders as “Crazy Bernie,” which makes Sanders sound like a discount mattress salesman. It’s not a creative nickname, or a smart one; compare it to the last idiot president, George Bush, who came up with truly creative nicknames like Pooty-Poot for Vladimir Putin.
But Trump’s epithets stick because they’re so simple and dumb. In contrast, when his detractors tried to label him as “Drumpf,” his old family name, they immediately failed. Nobody thinks of Donald as “Drumpf,” because as nicknames go, it doesn’t make any sense. There’s no association tied to it. It doesn’t remind you of anything.
Calling Bernie “Crazy,” on the other hand, is simple and descriptive and memorable. We’ll certainly see Trump trot out all manner of adjectives to describe Clinton in similarly glowing terms, we’re sure.
Incidentally, the international reaction to Trump is pretty much what you’d expect: almost everyone hates him, and the ones who like him are scary right-wing racists. The newly-elected Mayor of London came out swinging particularly hard this week, pointing out that Trump’s Muslim ban could prevent him from coming to the United States. When Trump conceded that he might make exceptions, the Mayor still wasn’t satisfied — it’s about more than just one man, he pointed out.
And if Trump is elected, it’ll be more than just the Mayor of London who shuns this country. It’ll be the entire world.