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Will the Democrats Learn from the British Ambassador and Duped-by-Russia Hannity? Probably Not

How do you handle an immature child? For a parent coping with an immature and biological child, the task is a daunting one. One must be on constant alert. It is a time-consuming task. One never knows when the immature child will erupt. One never knows when the immature child will cross a line that is not supposed to be crossed. One never knows when the immature child will wreak havoc.

The challenge is even greater when that immature child is in the body of an adult. Think of a high school or college reunion. Somewhere in the crowd there will be that one person who never outgrew college, who never out grew high school, who never outgrew junior high school. He (or sometimes, she) will still act as the 7th grade smart-aleck-dumb-aleck he was back when he was 13. He may have an adult job, be a spouse and a parent, and normally behave like an adult, but there are those moments, especially when the group dynamic kicks in, when he will be the same immature child he was back when he was 13….and now there is no one to send him to the principal’s office…until he actually breaks the law.

Fred Trump knew he had a problem with Little Donnee Wanee. When the immature child was 13, the father placed him a military school in the vain hope that he would grow up. It did not work. Then he spent good money after bad in the vain attempt that the immature child would succeed as an adult businessperson. That was the equivalent of $413 million down the drain. Instead Little Donnee Wanee became the biggest financial loser in American history.

Still, give credit where credit is due. He was always able to con someone into thinking he was really an adult. He created the character of The Donald to act in political professional wrestling arenas and in phony-baloney reality shows and he convinced many people that The Donald was a real person and not just a disguise.

However, there came a time when he had to function in the real world, in the world of adults, in the world that does not watch Fox. And there he had a problem. Pretty much every with whom he had to work on an adult level quickly realized that Little Donnee Wanee was not an adult, he was an immature child.

In this regard, he was no Tom Hanks (Tom Hanks versus Our Immature Child-President). When 13-year old Tom Hanks became big, he was a level-headed kid. He could read a book. He could explain algebra to an even younger child. He could converse with adults on some topics without coming across as a simple-minded child repeating the few words he knew in an almost airhead manner.

But what was the job Tom Hanks had when he was big? His job was to play like a child which he still was and then to report his insights to adults. He was not put in charge of anything. He did not have an administrative job. He did not have an executive job. If he had been placed in such a position, the scam of adulthood would have been exposed. He would have been revealed as a child posing as an adult.

Something similar happened with the world’s worst manager. The same person who bankrupted an airline, who bankrupted a casino, who bankrupted a hotel, now became the person in the office where the buck stops. His management skills have been on display after a hurricane in Puerto Rico (is that in America?) and on the border. He is just as incapable as President as he was in business. However, in business he realized that he could make money branding himself while outsourcing all the building to others. That option does not exist for the President.  As we now commemorate the 50th anniversary of the landing on the moon, we should realize that if Little Donnee Wanee had been president then we never would have gotten there.

Sometimes the adults in the room tried to contain him as president. They would ignore his directives, remove documents from his desk, and pray that no one took him seriously. Sometimes because he is an immature child with limited attention span those efforts succeeded. Sometimes they did not.

From time to time, various reports would emerge that documented his immaturity, his ignorance, his ineptness. Books would be written about him. Anonymous articles would be published. Baby Donnee Wanee blimps would be flown.

Most recently British Ambassador Kim Darroch was exposed as having told the truth about our immature child president. He wrote the ineptitude and incompetence of the chaotic administration. The administration of Little Donnee Wanee would always be dysfunctional, unpredictable, faction-ridden, clumsy and inept.

The temper tantrums would never cease. There would always be another hissy-fit tweet. Perhaps if Britain had deployed its air forces more effectively George Washington would have been defeated and there never would have been a United States. If we had remained a British colony just a little longer until granted independence, there would have been no need for Canada to burn the White House.

The immature child responded to this exposure exactly as one would expect him to: by proving it true.  The same may be said for his reaction to the pre-publication excerpts from Paul Ryan’s new book. The same may be anticipated for every book to be written about him save for those from one of the Flying Monkeys sworn to take a bullet on behalf of the Wicked Witch of the White House.

In so doing, Little Donnee Wanee also has made it clear what ticks him off the most. When he is exposed as being an immature child trying to pass for an adult he goes ballistic. He erupts. Every time. He fixates on the charges. It consumes him. No matter where in the world he is or what he is doing, if someone challenges him on being the 5 “I” president (an inept, incompetent, immature, illegitimate, idiot), he will drop everything to unleash a hissy-fit tweet.

HELLO Democrats! Are you listening? Are you paying attention? He has broadcast what unnerves him the most. He has shown what gets under his skin. He has shown what rattles him. He hates it when people disparage and make fun of him for being an immature child trying to pass for an adult. It is his Achilles’ heel.

Meanwhile, here we are four years after he descended on the staircase and Democrats still do not have a nickname for him. How is it possible that after years of Little Donnee Wanee assigning insulting nicknames to people, the Democrats do not have a standard slew of names for Bonepsur Boy, for Swamp Builder, for the World’s Worst Manager, for America’s Biggest Financial Loser Ever, for Longtime Democrat and Clinton Supporter, for Our Immature Child President?

The Democrats need to go to the Duped-by-Russian Hannity School of Professional Political Wrestling. Put aside for the moment the individual policies he supports or actions he recommends. Focus instead on the techniques he uses to communicate those policies and actions. Recognize his skill in delivering his message. Observe his methods. Note his success. Remember, Duped-by-Russia Hannity convinced his viewers on the basis on absolutely no evidence whatsoever that Seth Rich was the murdered leaker of DNC emails in 2016. It was “the single biggest fraud, lies, perpetrated on the American people by the media and the Democrats in our history” until, of course, the Deep State conspiracy which is about to be exposed and the real colluders and obstructionists are about to reap their just punishment.

WAKE UP AND LEARN FROM THE MASTER!

Duped-by-Russia Hannity
(NICHOLAS KAMM)

Duped-by-Russia Hannity employs several tried and true techniques in the delivery of his message. He is relentlessly on message. He is persistent. He is rigorously repetitive. Sometimes it is hard to tell what day, week, month, or year it is from his monologue since he persistently uses the same words and phrases. If you had a dollar for every time he referred to the “angry Democrats” on Mueller’s team you could retire. Democratic paid for Steele dossier. Unverified Steel dossier. FISA abuses. CORRUPT. CORRUPT. CORRUPT. The biggest corruption scandal in American history. And the guilty ones are panicking now because it is all about to be exposed. Wait till the Flying Monkeys in Congress get through with life-long Republican and decorated-Marine Mueller. It is the Deep State that really is on trial now.

Need-less-to-say, the Democrats have nobody comparable to Duped-by-Russia Hannity. There is no cable host who even comes close to matching him. Lawrence O’Donnell tries but he is no Duped-by-Russia Hannity. And by the time Rachel Maddow has finished one of her essays, Duped-by-Russia Hannity has unleashed a string of assaults that if you missed them then you can tune in tomorrow because he will repeat them. And why Chris Cuomo thinks he is obligated to provide equal time to people who already have a propaganda network is a mystery.

The British Ambassador has exposed the Achilles’ heel of Little Donnee Wanee.

Duped-by-Russia Hannity has developed the weapon to be deployed in such a situation.

The Democrats have been shown what the vulnerability is. The Democrats have been shown how to wield the weapon for the kill. The only question is will the Democrats ever seize the moment. I say, “no.” It will remain a party of no imagination, no metaphors, no story to tell, and no message to thrust again and again into the weak spot of its immature narcissistic foe.

The Cognitive State of the President

It's a Good Life (1961) One of multiple Twilight Zone (and Star Trek) episodes about the Trump presidency

The June 2016 issue of The Atlantic contains two articles relevant to the present discussion about the lack of cognitive abilities of the current President of the United States. The two articles are:

“How Kids Really Succeed,” by Paul Tough
“The Mind of Donald Trump,” by Dan P. McAdams.

The two articles in the same hard copy magazine were not written as part of a single assignment. It is only by chance that the initially separate articles are juxtaposed.

This post will consist of excerpts from the two articles plus some comments of my own. The excerpted portions will not be highlighted in any way. The traditional academic apparatus of endnotes, footnotes, quotation marks, indentation, single spacing will not be adhered to. Instead it will be up to you Dear Reader to determine the origin of the material. While the combined text may not make for the smoothest of blogs, it should suffice to make its case.

NONCOGNITIVE SKILLS

Researchers concerned with academic-achievement gaps have begun to study with increasing interest and enthusiasm, a set of personal qualities― often referred to as noncognitive skills, or character strengths. These noncognitive skills tend not be measured in school performance but they often are the defining characteristics of an individual.

As brainy social animals, human beings evolved to be consummate actors whose survival and ability to reproduce depend on the quality of our performances. As Michael D’Antonio writes in his recent biography of Trump, Never Enough, Tom Griffin’s, owner of the Menie Estate near Aberdeen, most vivid recollection of the evening’s negotiations in 2006 pertains to the theatrics. It was as if the golden-haired guest sitting across the table were an actor playing a part on the London stage. “It was Donald Trump playing Donald Trump,” observed Griffin. The same feeling perplexed Mark Singer in the late 1990s when he was working on a profile of Trump for The New Yorker. Singer wondered what went through his mind when he was not playing the public role of Donald Trump. More than even Ronald Reagan, Trump seems supremely cognizant of the fact that he is always acting.

How does a person come to be an actor who is always performing? Where the stage name becomes the permanent name because the person is always on stage? A large and rapidly growing body of research shows that people’s temperament, their characteristic motivations and goals, and their internal conceptions of themselves are powerful predictors of what they will feel, think and do in the future.  Narrowing the focus to the realm of politics, psychologists have recently demonstrated how fundamental features of human personality—such as extroversion and narcissism—shaped the distinctive leadership styles of past U.S. presidents. The question before We the People with this president is “Is there any there there?” Is he an act with no substance? Or how did he get to be the person that he his?

The most important force shaping the development of these noncognitive skills turns out to be a surprising one: stress. Over the past decade neuroscientists have demonstrated with increasing clarity how severe and chronic stress in childhood―what doctors sometimes call toxic stress―leads to physiological and neurological adaptations in children that affect the way their minds and bodies develop and, significantly, the way they function in school.

Fred Trump raised his sons to be tough competitors because if you were not vigilant and fierce, you would never survive. Trump writes, “I wanted to be the toughest kid in the neighborhood.”  Children rely on responses from their parents to help them make sense of the world. More than any other experiences in infancy, these rudimentary interactions called “serve and return” between the parents and the child trigger the development and strengthening of connections among the regions of the brain that control emotion, cognition, language, and memory.

Trumps’ own narrative tells this story. The first chapter as he tells it today, expresses nothing like Bush’s gentle nostalgia or Obama’s curiosity. Instead it is saturated with a sense of danger and a need for toughness. The world cannot be trusted, it is one of toxic stress. Warrior narratives have traditionally been about and for young men. Now in the eighth decade of his life, Trump is still fighting his demons.

Stress can disrupt development of what are known as executive functions. In childhood, and especially in early childhood, this intricate stress-response network is highly sensitive to environmental cues. A highly sensitive stress-response system constant on the lookout for threat can produce patterns of behavior that are self-defeating in school. Toxic stress impedes mature development.

Narcissism stems from a deficiency in early-life mirroring. The parents fail to lovingly reflect back the young child’s own budding grandiosity, leaving the child in desperate need of affirmation from others. Ever since grade school, Trump has wanted to be No. 1.  His need to excel may have crowded out by making it impossible for him to show the kind of weakness and vulnerability that true intimacy typically requires. Not only is he incapable of sympathy and empathy, he considers such emotions the signs of a loser.

TEACHING NONCOGNITIVE SKILLS TO TOXIC-STRESSED STUDENTS

An influential study on the long-term effect of a stressful early home life identified 10 categories of childhood trauma. An elevated number has a negative effect on the development of a child’s executive functions and on her ability to learn effectively in school.

When teachers and administrators are confronted with students who find it hard to concentrate, manage their emotions, or deal calmly with provocation, they see them as kids with behavioral problems who need, more than anything, to be disciplined. Talking back and acting up in class are, at least in part, symptoms of a child’s inability to control impulses, de-escalate confrontations, and manage anger and other strong feelings. By his own account, Trump once punched his second-grade music teacher, giving him a black eye.

Trump said about his intimidating high school baseball coach, “Like so many strong guys, Dobias has a tendency to go for the jugular if he smelled weakness. On the other hand, if he senses strength but you didn’t try to undermine him, he treated you like a man.” Trump has never forgotten the lesson he learned from his father and from his teachers at the military academy: The world is a dangerous place. You have to be ready to fight.  As he said in an interview in 1981, “Man is the most vicious of all animals, and life is a series of battles ending in victory or defeat.” There is no synergy. There is no “come let us reason together. There is no win-win. Every day is like another episode on a TV series Survivor where ultimately there can only be one winner.

People, especially those who have experienced significant adversity, are often guided by emotional and psychological and hormonal forces that are far from rational. There are limits to the effectiveness of rewards and punishments in k-12 education for young people whose neurological and psychological development has been shaped by intense stress. Straightforward systems are often especially ineffective.

The situation for such students is not hopeless. Spending a few hours each week in close proximity to a certain kind of teacher can change something about student’s behavior. The environment those teachers created in the classroom, and the messages that environment conveyed, motivated students to start making better decisions. In every school, it seemed, there were certain teachers who were especially good at developing cognitive skills in their students and other teachers who excelled at developing noncognitive skills. But the teachers in the second cohort were not being rewarded for their success with the students.

Trump apparently never had such teachers skilled in the ways of developing noncognitive skills. Or if he did, he was sufficiently set in his ways that nothing could change him. Today he is the same immature undisciplined child he was at age 13 when his father placed him in military school in the vain hope that he would become disciplined. General John Kelly is not his teacher and he readily acknowledges that he cannot change Trump.

THE DONALD

Across his lifetime, Donald Trump has exhibited a trait profile that you would not expect of a U.S. president: sky-high extroversion combined with off-the-chart low agreeableness. According to Barbara Res, who in the early 1980s served as vice president in charge of construction of Trump Tower in Manhattan, the emotional core around which Donald Trump’s personality constellates is anger. “He’s not faking it,” she said. Anger may be the operative emotion behind Trump’s high extroversion as a well as his low agreeableness. Anger can fuel malice, but it can also motivate social dominance, stoking a desire to win the adoration of others. Anger permeates his political rhetoric.

The broad social reputation Trump has garnered as a remarkably disagreeable person is based upon a lifetime of widely observed interactions. People low in agreeableness are described as callous, rude, arrogant, and lacking in empathy. The real psychological wild card is Trump’s agreeableness—or lack thereof. There has probably never been a U.S. president as consistently and overtly disagreeable on the public stage as Donald Trump. His public stage is always the professional wrestling arena, he is always on stage, and he is always playing the Donald.

People are mostly motivated not by the material consequences of our actions but by the inherent enjoyment and meaning that those actions bring us, a phenomenon called intrinsic motivation. Most people but not all people. For Trump, “It’s the hunt that I believe I love.” He is always spoiling for a fight. Remember that one of the signal results of toxic-stress exposure is a hyperactive fight-or-flight mechanism. The Republican candidates for president in 2016 never confronted Trump on his terms and he triumphed in the professional wrestling arena on which the nomination process was staged. The Democratic candidate for president in 2016 never confronted Trump on his terms and he triumphed in the professional wrestling arena on which the debates were staged. The former party of Lincoln rolled over like “a little girl” when he fired Mueller, never to stand up to him the way even high-school student Trump stood up to his baseball coach.

So who really is Donald Trump? What is behind the actor’s mask? I can discern little more than narcissistic motivations and a complementary personal narrative about winning at any cost. It is always Donald Trump playing Donald Trump, fighting to win, but never knowing why with the Republican Party, the United States, and the world paying the price.