Quick Takes: “Deranged Trump Self-Delusion”

* By now we’ve all read countless articles that try to analyze the mad king who has been elected president (I’ve penned one or two myself). But Adam Gopnik might have just written the one that puts all others to shame. In a way, it’s as much about us as it is about Trump. Here’s a taste:

Our problem is not Trump Derangement Syndrome; our problem is Deranged Trump Self-Delusion. This is the habit of willfully substituting, as a motive for Trump’s latest action, a conventional political or geostrategic ambition, rather than recognizing the action as the daily spasm of narcissistic gratification and episodic vanity that it truly is…

There is, perhaps, something not exactly reassuring but in its way tolerable about this delusion. It explains the real reason for the sudden willingness to imagine that Trump is capable of being “Presidential.” People who have acts and actions that add up to some coherent plan—or even to an evil scheme—tend to have an ideology. It possesses them, or they are possessed by it. With Trump, it is perfectly clear that he only has a series of episodic wounds and reactions—it’s all fears and fits.

* Given that truth, Paul Ryan’s tribute to the mad king in TIME magazine makes it clear that he is beyond delusional.

A businessman always willing to challenge convention, he has shaken up Washington and laid out an agenda of generational proportions. Never afraid of a battle, he has made it his mission to fight for those who feel forgotten. Where others would pivot, he stays true to who he is. Where others would turn back, he forges ahead. Up close, I have found a driven, hands-on leader, with the potential to become a truly transformational American figure.

* Charles Pierce has a few choice words in response.

There are not two consecutive words in that paragraph that are remotely true. But, if I were a speaker whose party caucus is in open revolt, and I were writing about a president* who at the moment has to dial one-and-an-area-code to reach mere incompetence, this is the kind of thing I would write.

* Perhaps you saw that this happened:

* I was going to ignore that one until I read what Jamelle Bouie had to say about it. First, he noted what went on at the White House during Obama’s presidency.

Obama, in particular, brought a rotation of popular and esteemed black artists to the White House for performances and meetings, from singers and musicians like Beyoncé and Stevie Wonder to actors like Denzel Washington and Forest Whitaker to rappers like Kendrick Lamar, directors like Ava DuVernay, and documentarians like Deborah Riley Draper. This elevation of black art and black performance, from the first black president, was a statement of inclusion, a declaration that the story of American achievement is also the story of black art forms and black excellence. That the latter is an integral part of the former. These meetings weren’t political per se, but they were part of Barack Obama’s politics.

Then Bouie provides some background about the people Trump just had over for dinner at the White House. I’ll simply sum it up with the fact that Ted Nugent once called President Obama a “subhuman mongrel.” Hence…

[Trump] is, in other words, a president who ran a racist campaign, meeting with men and women who sell racial defiance to an angry multitude of white Americans.

That image, of Trump and his visitors gathered around the Resolute desk in the Oval Office, sends a clear and unmistakable message. It’s one part cultural representation and one part cultural repudiation. It’s an attack on Obama, his legacy, and the ethos of inclusion he brought to the White House. And it’s a not-so-subtle declaration of victory. We took our country back, and now you have to live with it.

* On a brighter note:

* Finally, it looks like next week we’re going to get to hear from an adult again.

Former President Barack Obama will speak to young people at the University of Chicago on Monday, returning to the city for what will be his first public event since leaving the White House.

Obama and young leaders will hold a conversation on civic engagement and discuss community organizing at the university’s Logan Center for the Arts, his office announced Friday.

Other than his work with initiatives like “My Brother’s Keeper,” it is clear that civic engagement will be a focus for Obama’s post-presidential activities. I look forward to watching that unfold.

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly.