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Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Trump as King Midas, and some advice

We're all familiar with the tale of King Midas, whose greed was his downfall. In a way, Trump is similar, except that his downfall is due to his ego. Everything in his life -- his real estate holdings, his family, foreign policy, domestic policy -- seems to be an extension of his ego.

It's as if when the satyr Silenus offered to grant Trump a wish, Trump had said, "I want everything I touch to make me look great." But Silenus then replied, "But I can't do that -- only you can do that."

So Trump tried, but he tried too hard. And he would constantly point out how great he was, which only made him look bad.

For instance, when Trump said during the campaign, "I will be the greatest President for jobs that God ever created," it sounded good, at first. What's not to like about more jobs? But in retrospect, it was all about him.

Note that Trump did not say, "Our administration is going to create an unprecedented number of jobs, and that will be a primary focus." He started out by using his favorite word, "I," and ended the sentence with "God ever created," as if the Almighty had specifically created him, back in 1946, to be the greatest jobs President ever.

If Trump had taken out the words "for jobs," the sentence would have shown what was really on his mind.

Trump was probably thinking in the back of his mind that invoking God would win him points with the religious crowd. Instead, it merely betrayed his ego.

What Trump needs to realize is that just one or two self-deprecating jokes would do wonders for his image. He actually has a decent sense of humor, but all his jokes are directed outward. If just a few could be at his own expense, people would like him more. The jokes wouldn't even have to be off the cuff, they could be obviously written by his speechwriters.

It's hard to imagine that Trump's handlers haven't thought of this. Does Trump just overrule them and delete the jokes from his speeches? He may just be constitutionally incapable of modesty.

Best of all would be if Trump could make a joke about his own ego. If he wants to rule a certain course of action out, he could say, with a wink, "That's about as likely as me saying something self-deprecatory."

Next time he wants to describe something as "yuuuuge," instead he could say, "This thing....Let me put it this way, it's almost as big as my ego."

Instead of boasting that he's surrounded himself with the very, very best people, he could just say, "I made sure that absolutely every last person on my staff is smarter than me -- which is probably the smartest thing I've ever done."

If he would make these comments, one of two things would happen: his approval ratings would rise, or he would choke to death.

It'd be worth the risk.


Anonymous said...

I know you focus a lot on Sociopaths in your blog -- and for good reason, as they have the potential to be highly dangerous people capable of causing significant by harm. But Narcissists (of which Trump seems to be such a classic textbook example of an Overt Narcissist as to be practically cliche) can suck a lot too. Plus depending how far down the malignant end of the spectrum they settle, can be every bit as cagey, hurtful and disruptive as their Sociopath counterparts. I think I've likely been more negatively affected in my life personally by run-of-the-mill Narcissists running amok than Sociopaths (somehow I've managed to not cross paths with too many bonafide Sociopaths, but Narcs? Whole n'other story). They do seem to be everywhere these days.

John Craig said...

Anon --
You're right, narcissists -- of which Trump IS a perfect example -- suck, and they are far more common in the population than actual sociopaths are. (They've negatively affected my life, too.) They're entitled, arrogant, obnoxious, hypocritical jerks.

That said, I'd say they are far less cagey, on average, than sociopaths are. And where sociopaths knowingly lie outright, narcissists are far more likely to just spin, or actually see themselves as better than they are. Trump is a good example of this: if he were cagier, he'd be more charming, he'd know how to manipulate people, and he'd be more adept at manipulating his public image. But he's incapable of this: he's just a great big squishy smelly blob of ego. (And I say this as one who completely agrees with his political platform.)

The "advice" I'm giving in this post is actually to be more like a sociopath. (Sociopaths are much better at hiding their true natures, and doing that comes to them instinctively.)

By the way, the term "malignant narcissist" seems to me to be just another way saying sociopath. All sociopaths are narcissists by definition, but not all narcissists are sociopaths.

Smallberries Worldwide said...

I bet Trump is a little different in person when he's not having to perform for an audience. I think he's developed this style more for public perception because it has always worked for him. One can imagine a seven year old trump ruling the playground and becoming his future public bully self.

From reading about his background his egomania was a trait noticed early in his childhood just out of infancy. However it seems unlikely that he could have the admiration of his kids and business associates if he was as much as an ego driven megalaomaniac in private as he comes off in pubic. I can think of many examples of politicians that people said had different personalities in more of a private setting, George W. Bush, Bob Dole, probably many others.

LBD said...

Cometh the hour, cometh the man. Trump may be as vulgar as you like, but what have the more refined cuckservatives done for their voters?

Even when the Republican party held the Presidency and the Congress they behaved as if their goal was approval from Democrats. They were (and are) too, too above it all to push for OUR agenda.

Trump is a street fighter. He cares about WINNING.The proper response to criticism of him is: We. Don't. Care.

No enemies to the right.

John Craig said...

Smallberries --
I agree completely that he wouldn't have been popular in school with his egomaniacal personality. On the other hand, when you're a billionaire, your aides ACT as if you're the funniest and most charming guy in the world even when you're a buffoon.

But yes, there are people who come across better in person. I'd heard the same about George W. Bush, and it actually does seem that a lot of Trump's former employees speak well of him and his loyalty. And being a former employee allows for a lot more honesty than being a current employee.

John Craig said...

LBD --
Couldn't agree more about his platform vs. that of the cuckservatives. Even the recent budget bill, led by Paul Ryan, was a triumph for the Democrats. And I will support Trump politically no matter how obnoxious he gets. But think of it this way: if he were less transparently egomaniacal, he'd probably be more effective at getting his program through.

LBD said...

If he were less egomaniacal he would not have the energy and confidence necessary to persevere in the face of the unprecedented abuse to which he has been subjected.

One measure of the man is the opinion of people who have worked with him and in subordinate positions in his organization. They pretty much universally like him. With all the feminist hysteria, he hired the first woman project manager of a major construction project way back in the 1980's.

Contrast this with the Clintons' contempt for those who had the misfortune to serve them. Few have a good word to say of the experience.

John Craig said...

LBD --
Everything you say is true. It takes a narcissistic personality to want to be President in the first place, and better that than a sociopath like either Clinton. BTW, I did a sociopath alert about Bill Clinton here:

And you might enjoy these pieces about him:

I also did a sociopath alert about Hillary Clinton in which I described her behavior toward subordinates:

(The point being, I'm well aware of what they're all about.)

And I agree about what Trump's former employees have had to say about him, as I pointed out in the 3:23 comment above. I just wish he was more graceful about hiding his own ego.

Anonymous said...

John, do you have any clue about Putin?

He is cunning no doubt, but he can be overt and often acts blunt. He is impatient, he may be eating dinner with important guests, but when the clock strikes ten, he gets up and says "dinner is over" and walks out before dessert and completing his talks.

His childhood is complicated, his mother seemed to have cared about him from one source, but she has multiple miscarriages before him, and Putin seems to have some motor movement abnormalities consistent with neurological problems from birth complication.

He also tends to dislike large meetings and prefers to meet one on one, and usually tries to find ways to get an upper hand such as bringing a large dog to one with Merkel (who has a phobia of dogs) and prefers to choose where and when the meeting will occur, he likes to be in control.

During large meetings he can get angry and call people out overtly.

His attitude seems to be a "let me be evil if they think I am" at times, others he seems to be frustrated he is caught in a crappy situation surrounded by incompetents or corrupt people. His explanation for not allowing a gay rights bill to pass was if he did, there would be reprisals and violence by minorities, especially Caucasians (note the capital letter, not referring to race, but those guys in the mountains).

You look at him and wonder if he didn't care and said "hah a good excuse" or he felt he really did have to oppose the bill to prevent unrest, going back home thinking "grrrgggh damn minorities!".

I can't place him anywhere. Some of his actions can seem sociopathic, but he looks like a type of secondary sociopath, driven by frustration, repressed anger, and circumstance than sadism or pleasure, and the actions he does do could be in line with what a average guy would do with enough power.

He is a strongman, he doesn't go around proclaiming it verbally. He does try to give off an image of being macho through his hobbies, and some of them are eccentric such as judo, kayaking, hunting, owning exotic pets, and one time flying a small glider to lead a bunch of migrating geese home. This could be typical Russian things people like to do, I am not Russian so I don't know how they spend their free time. Maybe this is a common ritual:

I've read of some people in Canada enjoying doing similar things.

Why are some people so easy to diagnose when you take a quick look, but others are so complicated? Some even scream that there is something weird, but you can't figure out what is weird. That is a question.


Anonymous said...
Funny picture

But Putin does have this a poker face, he doesn't attempt to fake emotions the way Hillary does to cover something up or he prevents himself from expressing anything.

His face looks almost always bored, even when he is angry or smiles, it doesn't look very expressive. Does that mean he just has a resting bitch face like Kristen Stewart or Anna Kendrick, or does he have legitimate flat/blunted affect?

Or is he repressing his expression on purpose?

I don't know.


Anonymous said...

LBD wrote: "Even when the Republican party held the Presidency and the Congress they behaved as if their goal was approval from Democrats. They were (and are) too, too above it all to push for OUR agenda."

Continuing with this theme, the following quote by Roger Simon struck me:

"Approaching the vaunted one hundred day benchmark, its clear the Republicans, not the Democrats or their faithful media allies, are the biggest threat to Donald Trump's presidency. Lost in various ego and ideology-driven agendas the GOP legislators are doing their best to elect Elizabeth Warren president in 2020. Perhaps they should turn over their donor lists to the Massachusetts senator and make things easier and more direct.

This may or may not speak poorly for Trump's managerial skills. And it doesn't account entirely for his poor poll numbers. But if there is a cancer on his presidency , its coming largely from his own party's inability to enact legislation when they have undisputed control of Congress and the executive branch. It's almost as if the Republicans have a death wish and don't really want to govern - subconsciously preferring to be an opposition party that doesn't have to take responsibility for their actions, only for criticism".

- Ed

John Craig said...

Ga --
You've just given a good summation of Putin's activities and also the various impressions he gives at different times. But you're right, his personality doesn't lend itself to any obvious syndrome. I've heard that some say he has Aspergers (I may have heard that the Pentagon had analyzed him that way), but I think that may have just been part American propaganda, or an attempt to bother him. One of the obvious possibilities would be sociopath, given that he started with nothing and came up through the KGB -- to consolidate your power like that take an awful lot of slipperiness. But I don't really get those vibes from him. I just don't know either.

John Craig said...

Ga --
One theory I've heard on that is that he's had Botox. But of course I don't know.

John Craig said...

Ed --
That's a great quote, thank you. Especially the part you put in boldface.

My theory is that a lot of Republicans are simply part of the Swamp, and vote the way they do for completely self-interested career and money reasons. They want their benefits, they want their contributions to continue from corporations which want cheap labor, they want that cushy K Street job after they get voted out of office. And why do anything to jeopardize that?

Steven said...

John, I'm having a discussion with someone and we want to know whether US health insurance covers terrorism and all the medical treatment resulting from it. I read a meme that said if Manchester had happening stateside, they'd all be getting massive bills. Delete this afterwards if you like for not being relevant but can you confirm or deny?

John Craig said...

Steven --
That's a good question, and I don't know the answer. Bear in mind that there are a number of insurance companies here in the US and they all vary in terms of their policies and what they cover. My insurance company -- AETNA -- didn't even cover my proton therapy when I got treated for cancer last year. So insurance companies are clearly in the business of billing us as much as they can while paying for as little as they can, and I wouldn't be surprised if some of them had provisions to slither out of paying if they can help it. But I just don't know.

Anonymous said...

John, I don't think autism. But his motor abnormalities probably have something to do with birth complications, but did they effect his neurology? There are hints of neurodevelopmental issues I keep sensing. Maybe his neurology is influenced by developmental problems or delays due to being the child of a difficult birth of a malnourished mother.

Also being a bit on the spectrum without having autism is not impossible (like someone who is not autistic but has a cousin with autism, they will be a little "different" but still relatively normal). He may not be autistic but could have a second or third cousin somewhere with autism, know what I mean?

But the truth is, maybe a lot of people are complicated. People who have something weird about them or act messed up could just be messed up without having having a brain full of lesions. They are just screwed up or eccentric because they live in a screwed up or eccentric world.

And maybe we can't diagnose some people because we haven't identified the condition that they have yet. If there are species that haven't been discovered yet, then it's possible there are disorders that exist we don't recognize or know about even in 2017.


John Craig said...

Ga --
His motor abnormalities can't be that bad, otherwise he wouldn't have been able to get that black belt in judo (and reportedly be competitive in the sport as a young man) and do all the other sports he is supposed to do.

But, yeah, it could be a touch of this or a touch of that. Or, maybe, he doesn't have anything and we're looking too hard for something that's not there.

Anonymous said...

I also want to add, he doesn't seem to be narcissistic the way donald trump is, nor does he outwardly display some superficial charm like a sociopath like Hilary, he is blunt, irritated, usually agitated when frustrated, other times he displays flatness in his expression.

Maybe he is a very unique kind of pissed off person. If he does bad things to others, I wouldn't say it's out of sadism or desire for pleasure.

He looks very bitter inside, and he probably really feels pissed off constantly at almost everyone around him in between the occasional smile, maybe his weird hobbies are his way of blowing off steam. I think he once slowly broke a pencil under his table when having to listen to someone else speak he didn't like.

He reminds me of Darth Vader, if he has any evil intent, it's a Darth Vader kind. When Darth Vader kills, it's out of a cold, not a hot tempered, but cold emotionally detached bitter anger, and Vader is later shown usually sulking for hours.

Putin has the lack of facial expression to make up for not being in a cyborg suit.

He is not the kind to be a gleeful cackling rage filled person taking delight in slaughtering people watching them in misery like Hilary would.

He is a grumpy man x100.


Anonymous said...

His motor abnormalities are not crippling, it is possible with exercise to compensate and fix them, but he occasionally does have a weird shoulder slouch, and there is a very slight offness, when he gets up from judo he seems to be a little unbalanced, not noticeable to someone who is not looking for it. And a grapping sport like Judo with grappling and outwitting your opponent would suit him compared to fast paced kickboxing or a team sport requiring quicker reflexes and great coordination.


John Craig said...

Ga --
He may not be narcissistic like Trump, but all those macho poses he strikes -- swimming in the Siberian river, fishing, tranquilizing the tiger, deep sea diving, etc. -- show that he's at least a few rungs up that ladder.

Darth Vader? Hmm, I think that's stretching it a bit.

I like your description of Hillary as "gleeful cackling rage filled." That certainly is a good description of her recounting Gaddafi's death.

John Craig said...

Ga --
Keep in mind, Putin is something like 61 or 62 now, and a lot of this stuff just happens as you get older.