Archive for October, 2019

His First Taste of the Hard Stuff

October 29th, 2019

The most essentially presidential act is to send people with guns to kill somebody.  Theoretically, in the United States no one but the president has authority to do that.  Thus, the mission against al-Baghdadi was Trump at his most presidential.  Characteristically, in the weeks leading up to the mission he grossly betrayed the Kurdish allies upon whom he would be relying for its success.  That Trump will betray anyone upon whom he relies has been demonstrated repeatedly.

Of course he lied about the mission, in the course of crowing about it.  As the New York Times has reported, when Trump described the scene in the tunnel where al-Baghdadi blew himself and three children up rather than be captured, Trump was making it up.  He cannot have seen what he claimed to have seen, because the only video he saw was aerial surveillance of the compound, showing blobs of heat sources moving around on the surface variously designated as friend or enemy.  The surveillance could not reach under the surface into the tunnel.  He cannot have heard what he claimed to have heard, because there was no audio.  He had not talked to any of the participants in the event before making his announcement.  Even the claim that al-Baghdadi was “immediately” identified with “100% certainty” by DNA testing on the scene was false.

It is no news that Trump would lie.  When he opens his mouth at any time on any subject, the only question is, in what way do his words diverge from the truth?  I am not indulging in mere hyperbole.   The phenomenon is demonstrated multiple times daily.  The Washington Post has counted thousands upon thousands of instances.  There is no substantive content to anything Trump says.  For some reason which escapes me, the media seem unwilling or incapable of incorporating this fact into their picture of the man.  Each time he lies, they come up with a situational explanation for it.  It is a matter of saying something that he conceives will be to his political advantage, they speculate, or “stoking his base,” or making a mistake, or something.  This time, I heard reporters opine that Trump was “embroidering,” a natural reaction in his moment of triumph.  No, he wasn’t.  He is a pathological liar.  He is incapable of telling the truth to anyone about anything at any time.  Is it some form of willful stupidity, the media’s failure to recognize this?

But truth has a way of leaking through.  Trump described the spectacle he had witnessed as “amazing” and compared it to “watching a movie.”  In his brutish fantasizing about what had occurred, in his exulting over a vanquished enemy, we see several things at work.  One is disassociation.  By contrast, when Obama announced the death of bin Laden, he was grave and solemn and sparing with facts.  This was not merely a matter of decorum, although it certainly was that.  More to the point, Obama had witnessed at length the process of hunting down and killing a human being on his own orders.  Trump showed no similar recognition of the gravity of the event.  As he said, he might as well have been watching a movie.  The characters weren’t real – Trump has many times and in many ways shown that other human beings are not fully real to him – and he was not in any human way connected to them or responsible for what was happening.  They were acting out his fantasy.  In his announcement of al-Baghdadi’s death, Trump showed us a psychopath enjoying his first violent gratification.  Let’s hope he doesn’t develop a taste for it.