Thursday, May 11, 2017
Writing across the street from the center of the storm, I offer further reflections on maturity — or lack thereof. The idea of integration is central to psychological maturation. Recent events on Pennsylvania Avenue provide dramatic examples of its opposite:
The ensuing discussion extends this earlier posting:
You can almost feel the tension in the air here in Washington. FBI Director Comey learned Monday he had been fired. While speaking in Los Angeles to an agent recruitment meeting, he noticed the announcement on a television at the back of the room. Not only was the termination ill-conceived, its delivery defines the word unprofessional.
The decision was made so impulsively that members of Trump’s own staff were caught unaware. Sean Spicer, his press secretary, offered hastily composed comments while standing amid bushes near the White House. The Deputy Attorney General threatened to quit because Trump falsely suggested he had recommended it. Trump himself offered contradictory comments. He spoke of his personal admiration of Comey one week; the next week he fired him for “not doing a good job.”
Most prominent among the many unfolding features of this disturbing tale is the revelation that Comey had requested more funds to intensify his Russia-Trump investigation. In other words, in firing Comey, Trump fired his own prosecutor: The investigated fired the investigator.
Citizens of clearly autocratic “republics,” like Turkey (ruled by Erdogan) or Russia (ruled by Putin), would not find these developments disturbing. They would expect them. An autocracy is defined as a government by one person having unlimited authority. Autocrats fire who they want, when they want.
But America? The USA?
Not only should we find these chaotic events disturbing, we should feel alarmed.
Consider these additional events:
Yesterday, Trump hosted Russian officials in the oval office but failed to invite any US media to the event. A Russian photographer took pictures. Trump is speaking to Putin again this week. And, just a few weeks ago, he called Erdogan to congratulate him on “winning” an election furthering his status not only as an autocrat, but as a dictator.
Earlier, media sources describe Trump as “obsessed” with Comey. Trump sustained a narcissistic injury when Comey reported feeling “mild nausea” at the possible link between the announcement of further Clinton email investigation and Trump’s election.
A term of art in psychoanalysis, the phrase “narcissistic injury” refers to an intense emotional reaction to a slight or insult to the self. We are all sensitive people. But for those with fragile self-images, such injuries elicit deep hurt and roiling rage. Trump likely has no awareness of the former; he rather clearly, frequently, and impulsively displays the latter.
Plato was apparently the first Western philosopher to consider parallels between the psychical and the political. In other words, he makes analogies between self-governance and other-governance.
For example, Plato writes, reason guides relations to our instinctual drives, our consciences, and our selves. By analogy, wisdom guides the rulers of countries. As courage serves individuals, temperament serves governmental leaders. As self-restraint reveals individual maturity, harmony shows a competent, mature leader.
Similar to many other events leading up to day 111 of the Trump presidency, these recent incidents call into question his personal and professional competency. Plato’s ancient philosophy sheds light on the disarray in both realms.
Internally, Trump is terrifically disintegrated. He is inconsistent, recently praising Comey only to equally recently critique him. He harbors personal grudges. He trusts only his close family members, absurdly assigning crucial diplomatic tasks to his son-in-law, Jared Cushner, whose qualifications consist of having inherited a real-estate business much like Trump. Trump, like Putin and Erdogan, uses his elected office for his personal enrichment. Innumerable examples consistently point to a poorly integrated personal psychology.
Externally… well… the recent events speak for themselves. The US constitution intends to prevent a President from behaving in such a clearly impulsive and inconsistent manner. Trump overrides it on a daily basis.
The combination of intra-psychic disarray and extra-psychic turmoil calls for much more than a special prosecutor.
It calls for an impeachment.
US Representative Maxine Waters openly seeks an end to the Trump “presidency.” She leads the ever-increasing chorus calling for him to go.
I, for one, add my voice to the melody. I hope many others will join to create a strident, boisterous, even thundering anthem insisting on an end to the Trump presidency.
Tremulously submitted across from the White House,
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