Friday, December 23, 2016

Report from Washington: What Is He Thinking?

Editors' Note: With the change of Administration from Barack Obama to the Gang That Couldn't Go Straight only a month away, the Spy thought it prudent to expand its Washington coverage to provide the kind of coverage you won't be getting from the mainstream gasbags.  So we've hired new correspondents and rented out some fabulous office space at Buzzard's Point to build out the team, which will be reporting to you until the demise of the First Amendment or the world, whichever comes first.

By Isaiah Thomas
White House Bureau Chief
With the President-elect of the United States threatening a vast new nuclear arms race via Tweet, Washington is once again asking itself: what is he thinking?

The usual bloviators are devoting hundreds of words and hours of airtime parsing over each syllable emanating from the Grifter-Elect’s stubby fingers, extracting a myriad of possible meanings from his vague yet menacing words.

The inquiry is sadly misplaced  because it relies on two vital but counter-factual assumptions: (1) the Grifter-Elect’s words have meaning, and (2) he’s thinking of something.

As even the dullest campaign-watcher should have concluded by now, the Grifter-Elect does not think, and he has no interest in what words mean.  When he says that Mexico is sending us rapists, he does not intend to communicate the idea that the Mexican Government is poring over lists of convicted rapists and then choosing which among them to send into the United States.  In fact he does not intend to communicate any idea at all.

What he’s trying to do?  Some or all of the following : (1) make himself the center of attention, (2) stir up anger and hatred to demonstrate how powerful he is, (3) retaliate against someone who has slighted him and (4) cast himself as the only one who can save the masses from the threats he conjures up.  He does not think.  He does not mean what he says.  How could he?  As the example of the Mexican rapists demonstrates, inferring a meaning from his words leads to a ludicrous result.
We admit that while these four motives usually suffice to explain any remark he makes, one must also keep open the possibility that any given outburst has no more meaning than a two-year old’s shrieked “No.”  There’s no rational motive at all, it’s just that the toddler is in the grip of powerful emotions he can’t control.  So too with, in Quinn Cummings’s classic sobriquet, the Giant Toddler.  He can no more control his emotions or be responsible for their consequences than can the Sta-Puf Marshmallow Man from Ghostbusters.  Indeed, there is a familial resemblance which would be ever plainer if the Marshmallow Man slathered on some bronzer before rampaging through the streets.

In this context, everything the Grifter-Elect says or does makes sense.  When he says “Lock her up,” he doesn’t mean that he believes that there are particular federal crimes that Hillary Clinton committed.  He simply means that a girl has been mean to him.  When he says that Barack Obama was not born in the United States, he has no interest in the truth value of that  claim.  It’s only  a way to get attention, stir up racist yahoos, and cast himself as their savior.  PS it worked bigly!

Consider his most incredible statement, which was that he should be elected President of the United States.  It didn’t mean that he had any plans that he wanted to carry out as President, whether for good or for evil.  All it meant was that he could make himself the center of attention, stir up anger and hatred to demonstrate how powerful he is, retaliate against those who mocked his ambitions, like Barack Obama, and cast himself as the savior of the masses he stirred up.

Even after the election, it is clear that he has no program, no goals, indeed, no idea at all of what to do.  He has outsourced all domestic policy to a loathsome gaggle of reactionary Republican hacks, like beloved baseball fan Mike Pence, and billionaire plutocrats who see the United States Government the same way the Grifter-Elect does: as a giant pinata to be beaten until riches rain down on anyone holding a bat.

For foreign policy, he has chosen generals and CEO’s who look the part, regardless of whether they are loony (like his National Security Adviser Jack D. Ripper), without experience (like His Oiliness Rex Tillerson), or perhaps fortuitously competent and rational, despite nicknames like “Mad Dog.” It’s surprising that based on his selection criterion for senior  positions (“looking good on television”) he couldn’t find a place for Ron Burgundy.  It must have been the mustache.

In the meantime, the Grifter-Elect is content to fire off Tweets about nuclear war or magazines that pan his shitty tourist traps, whichever gets his attention at the moment, and then ride around a golf course with celebrities.  We suspect that the next four years will play out just like this transition,  until he finds out what happens when you do your level best to provoke nuclear war.  Let’s just say the results will be yuge.  At least the rest of us won’t be around to see them.

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