May 13, 2017
The main reason (besides the grinding repetition) why I can't bear to watch comedians do their self-congratulatory Donald Trump shtick is that their phony indignation is based on the premise that this guy is somehow unworthy of being our president, which is ludicrous. Trump is not only worthy of being president, he's perfect for it.
Consider: The U.S. is, first and foremost, a nation of dedicated consumers. The world knows this, we know this, and Trump knows this. Indeed, there's nothing we Americans won't consume if it's properly advertised and promoted. And say what you will about Trump, but the man is, first and foremost, an accomplished salesman and promoter.
"We pretend to be surprised that we have elected a shallow, dishonest, narcissistic bully as our president."
Consider: We Americans don't form long queues outside of poetry or literature readings. There's no shame in that. We simply aren't a nation of poetry lovers. But we do form long queues outside of Best Buy, beginning at midnight, waiting for the store to open so we can purchase the newest technology. That's because we're a nation addicted to buying stuff on sale. And Trump is a brilliant salesman.
Consider: We idolize rich people. Because that seems vaguely and uncomfortably "unchristian," we pretend we don't, but we do. We tell our kids that money "isn't everything," but we don't even believe it ourselves. We are in awe of Wall Street because Wall Street is rich. And Trump is rich.
Consider: We idolize TV celebrities, and Trump was a TV celebrity. He had his own show. We idolize glamour, and the Trumps are glamorous. Wife Melania and daughter Ivanka are exotic beauties. Granted, that is more a tribute to recent advances in plastic surgery than the generosity of Mother Nature, but exotic beauties nonetheless. And as much as we pretend to respect "authenticity," we don't. Plastic is good.
Consider: Unlike much of the world, we Americans despise intellectuals. We pretend we don't, but we do. We hate know-it-alls, we hate smarty-pants media types, and we hate "deep thinkers." We don't want to be reminded of how ignorant we are. We like brevity and plain talk. We like certitude. We hate nuance, ambiguity, and self-doubt. Arguably, not counting Ronald Reagan, Trump is the most anti-intellectual president since Andrew Jackson.
Consider: We Americans respect muscle, strength and power, which is to say, we prefer war to peace. We pretend we don't, but we do. If that weren't the case, our defense budget wouldn't be so absurdly bloated, and we wouldn't have been engaged in all the military adventurism that has defined us since the end of World War II.
Consider: We Americans are a narcissistic people. We pretend we aren't, but we are. We don't have to be tied down and water-boarded to blurt out the fact that we think we're the greatest country in the world. Not only the greatest country in the world, but the greatest country in the history of the world. If that ain't narcissism, what is it?
And yet, for all this, we pretend to be surprised that we have elected a shallow, dishonest, narcissistic bully as our president? As Kurt Vonnegut wrote in Mother Night, "We are what we pretend to be. So we must be careful about what we pretend to be."
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