- Dripping with snideness, vibrating with rage, and gleaming with clarity—a deeply satisfying read.
That’s from the Kirkus review of Mary Trump’s book on Uncle Donald in her book Too Much And Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man:
Her mission in the book to be published on 28 July by Simon & Schuster is to take down Donald Trump.
Donald Trump (b. 1946) is the fourth (of five) child of Frederick Christ Trump, a Bronx-born real estate developer whose parents were German immigrants and Scottish-born Mary Anne MacLeod Trump.
Donald Trump has two elder sisters and an elder brother, Frederick Trump Jr (b. 1938) who had two children, Mary Lea Trump (b. 1965) and Fred III. Mary Trump was 16 in 1981 when her father Fred Trump Jr died of a heart attack, brought on by severe alcoholism for which he had been hospitalised. He had been divorced by his wife and abandoned by his family. The night he died, brother Donald was at the movies.
Mary Trump, now 55, has a PhD in clinical psychology and “has taught graduate courses in developmental psychology, trauma, and psychopathology.” Mary Trump says:
- the president’s late father, Fred Sr., was domineering and a “high-functioning sociopath,” and his late mother, also named Mary, was “emotionally and physically absent.” They left Trump, she argues, without empathy and “fundamentally incapable of acknowledging the suffering of others.”
“Honest work was never demanded of him, and no matter how badly he failed, he was rewarded in ways that are almost unfathomable,” she writes.
“Now the stakes are far higher than they’ve ever been before; they are literally life and death. Unlike any previous time in his life, Donald’s failings cannot be hidden or ignored because they threaten us all,” she adds.
Rather than the strength Trump attempts to show:
- “Donald is not simply weak, his ego is a fragile thing that must be bolstered every moment because he knows deep down that he is nothing of what he claims to be. He knows he has never been loved,”…
That was from Chris Megerian at the Los Angeles Times – Niece’s book says Trump views ‘cheating as a way of life’.
There is another good article at The Washington Post by Shane Harris and Michael Kranish which was reprinted in the AFR. You can access all but the last few paragraphs courtesy of The Boston Globe. At the end of the article they say:
- At the end of the book, Mary Trump concludes that it was inevitable that her uncle would rely on division to govern the country, replicating the way she says Fred Snr “turned his children against each other.”
Donald Trump, she writes, “knows he has never been loved”.
Further background to the book has been outlined by Lachlan Cartwright at Daily Beast – Revealed: The Family Member Who Turned on Trump:
After Fred Trump Snr died in 1999 a ferocious family feud broke out.
First, Mary Trump and her brother Fred III contested the will, saying they had been seriously dudded, which, on the face of it, seems true. It seems they had some success, but the settlement amount has never been revealed. Mary Trump says, yes, she wanted money, but most of all she wanted recognition of her father.
Second, the Trump organisation, which had always paid the whole family’s medical expenses, closed off the payments for medical treatment for Fred III’s infant son, who had been born with cerebral palsy. This, it seems, was done by Donald, his younger brother Robert, and elder sister Maryanne Trump Barry, who at the time was a Federal appeals court circuit judge, having been appointed by Bill Clinton.
Third, this case gave Mary Trump access to the Trump family financial records. Mary Trump subsequently handed over 19 boxes of papers, plus computer files, to the New York Times after Trump was elected president. She then worked with journalists Russ Buettner, Susanne Craig, and David Barstow to produce a stunning exposé in 2018 of the Trump family business dealings, which included:
- startling revelations about Trump’s taxes, including how he was involved in “fraudulent” tax schemes and had received more than $400 million in today’s dollars from his father’s real estate empire.
David Barstow then:
- went rogue, aggressively pursuing a source of their groundbreaking investigation to ghostwrite a book and secure a six-figure payday—a move explicitly forbidden by the Times’ ethics rules.
That is by the way.
There is no doubt Mary Trump’s book will sell well, and she will be accused of revenge. Yet there is no doubt she has the qualifications in developmental psychology and in psychopathology to give a more than plausible account of Donald Trump’s personality. She is not claiming to make a clinical assessment. Indeed:
- Mary Trump asserts that her uncle has all nine clinical criteria for being a narcissist. And yet, she notes, even that label does not capture the full array of the president’s psychological troubles.
“The fact is,” she writes, “Donald’s pathologies are so complex and his behaviors so often inexplicable that coming up with an accurate and comprehensive diagnosis would require a full battery of psychological and neurophysical tests that he’ll never sit for.”
From Wikipedia, I think these are the official nine indicators of narcissism:
- Has a grandiose sense of self-importance (e.g.exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements).
- Is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love.
- Believes that he or she is “special” and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions).
- Requires excessive admiration.
- Has a sense of entitlement (i.e., unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations).
- Is interpersonally exploitative (i.e., takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends).
- Lacks empathy: is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others.
- Is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of him or her.
- Shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes.
That list somewhat soft-pedals this, which is prominent in other lists:
- Frequently demeans, intimidates, bullies, or belittles others
Any way Mary T says it’s more than narcissism with the Donald, and she’s probably right. Her case is one of personal unsuitability so grave that it may cause harm to all on the planet.
She relates how Fred Sr, mercilessly dominated his son, who in no way met his expectations. Donald, seven and a half years younger, joined in with his father as he grew up, and was rewarded for doing so. However, there was no healthy connection between Donald and his father.
- The memoir chronicles Fred Jr.’s fruitless efforts to earn his father’s respect as an employee, and how his younger brother Donald reliably ridiculed him as a failure who spent too much time following his passion, aviation, and not enough on the family business.
- The president, Mary Trump says, is a product of his domineering father and was acutely aware of avoiding the scorn that Fred Sr. heaped on the older brother, called Freddy. “By limiting Donald’s access to his own feelings and rendering many of them unacceptable, Fred perverted his son’s perception of the world and damaged his ability to live in it.”
From an early age, Mary Trump writes, the future president demonstrated a willingness to cheat and a penchant for ridicule.
Donald Trump delighted in tormenting his younger brother, Robert, whom he perceived as weaker.
Donald Trump escaped his father’s contempt, Mary Trump writes, because “his personality served his father’s purpose. That’s what sociopaths do: they co-opt others and use them toward their own ends — ruthlessly and efficiently, with no tolerance for dissent or resistance.”
COVID-19 provides a current example of the difference an incompetent POTUS can make. In terms of deaths per million at Worldometer, the US at 416 is ahead of neighbour Canada on 233, way ahead of Germany on 109, but admittedly behind countries world champion UK on 660 and countries like Spain and Italy. However, none of those countries is experiencing a true second wave, which is more pronounced than any comparable country (see below).
David Frum makes a case that in terms of COVID-19, This Is Trump’s Plague Now.
At first the United States suffered because of what Trump failed to do, says Frum. Yet the US was on a virtuous path to containment and suppression when Trump intervened and put pressure on states to open up. Even before the daily new case graph peaked on 24 April, Trump was urging governors to open up. Then:
- In mid-April, protesters—many of them openly brandishing weapons—assembled at the capitols of Democratic-governed states to demand immediate reopening. Trump tweeted his support. “LIBERATE MINNESOTA!” “LIBERATE MICHIGAN!” “LIBERATE VIRGINIA, and save your great 2nd Amendment. It is under siege!”
You can see what happened from this graph:
Frum’s article was published on 29 June. Now in broad terms the graph has gone from over 30,000 per day in April down to just around 20,000 per day in May, then in June headed up to over 60,000.
If by contrast we can compare Germany:
The comparison of the levels of infection is instructive. Germany with a quarter of the population of the US is running at less than 500 new daily cases. Scale up Germany’s numbers by four times and we can readily see that the American daily level of new infections is now more than 30 times that of Germany. One of these countries is more competent than the other in looking after the health of its citizens.
Trump made masks an issue by mocking Biden for wearing one. Trump supporters picked up on this:
Rush Limbaugh mocked the mask as a “symbol of fear” on May 15. The former Fox anchor Brit Hume joined in. On May 27, a writer at the pro-Trump web publication The Federalist posted a piece headlined, “Mandatory Masks Aren’t About Safety, They’re About Social Control.” The author, Molly McCann, warned: “If everyone is wearing a mask, it telegraphs a society-wide acceptance that the status quo has changed.” That morning, a pro-Trump writer named Lee Smith tweeted a link to the article, amplifying McCann’s paranoia. “Terrific @molmccann piece in @FDRLST — masks aren’t about public health but social control. Image of Biden in black mask endorses culture of silence, slavery, and social death.” Smith is a major figure in the pro-Trump media landscape. Formerly a Middle East correspondent for Bill Kristol’s Weekly Standard—and still connected to the eminently mainstream Hudson Institute—he has plunged deep and thick into the pro-Trump cause. In the early morning of May 28, Smith’s tweet got a retweet from Trump himself. (Emphasis added)
Frum told Phillip Adams that Trump has revved up racial incitement. He also blamed China. Frum in an article on 7 April This Is Trump’s Fault catalogues Trump’s early mistakes, which started before the virus:
- The Trump administration had cut U.S. public-health staff operating inside China by two-thirds, from 47 in January 2017 to 14 by 2019, an important reason it found itself dependent on less-accurate information from the World Health Organization. In July 2019, the Trump administration defunded the position that embedded an epidemiologist inside China’s own disease-control administration, again obstructing the flow of information to the United States.
Then when he closed the borders with China in February:
- The ban applied only to foreign nationals who had been in China during the previous 14 days, and included 11 categories of exceptions. Since the restrictions took effect, nearly 40,000 passengers have entered the United States from China, subjected to inconsistent screenings, The New York Times reported.
Frum says that Trump is not a strategic thinker, he doesn’t think in advance about what effects his actions or comments might have.
So far, however, we have Trump as a personality completely unsuited to the job as President of the United States. To complete the story we need to look to see whether the USA is failing as a state, quite apart from the Trump factor. I’ll leave that to another post.
Meanwhile James Robenalt in Daily Beast (if it will open for you) If He Loses, Trump Must Resign Immediately and Make Biden President. No, Really has said:
- The crisis is so great that Trump should just get out of town. And there’s a sort-of precedent: Woodrow Wilson planned to do just this in 1916 if he’d lost.
Wilson had kept the US out of WW1 and was aware that his opponent had a different view. At that time the change-over date was in March rather than the end of January. The article says:
- If and when Donald Trump leaves office, whether now or the day after the election, it should be by resignation. We cannot and should not wait until Inauguration Day, January 20, 2021, for him to vacate the White House. His departure has become a matter of national emergency, national safety, and now national security.
The polls show Trump losing by large margins to Joe Biden if the election were held today. His nearly catastrophic handling of the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in tens of thousands of unnecessary infections and deaths.
And things are getting worse following the premature reopening of states, something Trump insisted upon. He wears no face coverings, despite the recommendations of his own task force. He holds mass rallies in violation of local health regulations and recommendations.
The news that he may have failed to take note of intelligence reports that suggested that Vladimir Putin had offered bounties for the deaths of American soldiers in Afghanistan makes him a national security risk.
How can this be done?
“Trump would ask Pence to resign, appoint Biden as his VP, and then resign himself, allowing Biden to succeed to the presidency.”
Would he do it?
Acts of self-abnegation are not in his nature.
Note: The features image at the head of the post comes from November 2016;
This one comes from the same time: