Saturday, April 7, 2018
Trump's Lack of Impulse Control Is the Biggest Threat Facing America
The more I see of this president the more he reminds me of that kid in A Christmas Story who gets triple dog dared by his friend into sticking his tongue on the frozen pole. Most boys would've said, "I'll pass," but once he got triple dog dared this kid had to follow through. Well, if you've ever seen the movie - and who hasn't? - you know what happens next. The tongue gets stuck to the frozen surface and the teacher has to call the fire department to peel it off.
A funny, if innocuous, scene in an otherwise celebrated seasonal movie. No doubt that's one lesson that boy did not soon forget. Wet tongues and frozen surfaces don't mix very well. I'm sure all of us, if we were honest, have had episodes in our lives we'd just as soon not disclose. Like the kid in the movie, though, we learned from our mistake and didn't repeat it. It's called growing up and a surprising number of people do it.
Donald Trump isn't one of those people. He's never learned from his mistakes, primarily because, as he so proudly boasts, he's never made any. But the fact remains that for someone who's made no bones about being perfect, he's been anything but. Worse, not only has he made a ton of mistakes in his personal and public life, he seems hell-bent on one-upping them every chance he gets. It's one thing to screw up from time to time; it's quite another to go back for seconds and thirds and fourths.
Of course the main problem for us is that Trump isn't just some eccentric real estate, reality TV personality who makes Page Six in The New York Post every time he opens his mouth; he's the fucking President of the United States and his words and tweets have real-world consequences. So when he decides to impose tariffs on China to get even for the huge trade deficit we have with them, the consequence is a Dow that has plunged more than fifteen hundred points in the last few weeks. And when China hits back by imposing tariffs on American exports, he just can't help himself; he has to one up them. And the Dow takes yet another dive: 572 points on Friday. It's the frozen pole and the tongue all over again. Trump has to prove he's right and all the experts are wrong so he sticks America's tongue on that pole.
Throughout most of 2017, Trump's antics had been a non-issue as far as the economy was concerned. Indeed, Wall Street seemed pleased that one of their own was at the helm. The stock market soared to record highs, capped off by the biggest gift corporate America has received since the days of Herbert Hoover: a massive tax cut that will inevitably blow a hole in the debt, but for now is being heralded as a windfall in every board room across the country.
But then old motor mouth couldn't help himself. He suddenly remembered a campaign pledge he made to his downtrodden base about how China was screwing us on trade and he decided he was going to take action. Now most rational presidents, upon learning that a country was manipulating its currency and taking advantage of its trading partners - which China is clearly doing - would take a more reasoned and carefully thought-out approach. Not cadet bone spurs. He leaped into action. No planning, no negotiation, no partnering with other countries. Just the Lone Ranger without Tonto.
They say fools rush in where wise men never go. Well Donald Trump is the crown prince of fools. By the time this jackass is through making his point to China, it'll take a lot more than the fire department to peel America's tongue off that pole. That's because China, for all its chicanery, has all the leverage here. As of January 2018, it was reported they owned more than $1.2 trillion in U.S. debt. That's roughly 6 percent of the total debt of the country. All Xi Jinping has to do is phone Trump and say, "I'm calling in your debt tomorrow," and it's game, set and match. In case you're wondering, we don't have $1.2 trillion just laying around in petty cash. Having to fork over that amount of money would devastate the economy. Think early 2009, only worse.
This is why you don't elect morons to run countries. Trump's inability to think things through is his biggest problem and our worst nightmare. The man acts like a bully who's petrified someone will find out he's weak. So he goes after targets he thinks are ripe for the taking: Mexico, Canada, Europe, everyone it seems except Russia, but that's a story for another time and place.
But going after China makes absolutely no sense. In fact his whole approach to Asia has been bewildering to say the least. His decision to pull out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, far from dealing a blow to China, has strengthened its hand and made our's considerably weaker. While the TPP had its flaws, it would've opened the door for U.S. companies to export their goods into markets that were heretofore closed off. Now those exports will sit and the hundreds of thousands of jobs that might've been created in this country will be created instead in Asia.
Trump thinks he can wage a trade war the way he negotiates the construction of one of his hideously gross towers: by bullying everyone. He probably says to himself, "Don't they know who I am?" Trust me, shit-for-brains, they know who you are. When it comes to the world stage, everyone knows who you are by now. You're the idiot who's doing everything possible to live up to the part.
And that's why, even with everything else going on - the Russia investigation, his penchant for attacking the free press, his contempt for the rule of law - it's Trump's lack of impulse control that is the biggest threat facing America. In about six weeks, he will meet face to face with Kim Jong-un, the leader of North Korea. There's no telling what might happen at that meeting. Who knows, Trump might become best buddies with Kim; he does, after all, have an affinity for dictators. Or maybe Kim says or does something that sets him off and we could be staring at the precipice of World War III.
What I do know is this: That little switch that's in the back of our brains that keeps most of us from blurting out the first thing that pops into our heads is missing from Trump. The man is the very definition of what Freud called the id. He desperately needs to be right and now that he has fired everyone in his cabinet who had the audacity to tell him he was wrong, there's no one left to challenge his delusions of grandeur. Now he's sending troops down to the Mexican border because Fox and Friends told him there's a caravan of illegals headed for the U.S. You can't make this shit up.
He's a spoiled, insecure, little brat who just happens to have at his disposal the largest military and nuclear arsenal in the Milky Way galaxy.
Be afraid. Be very fucking afraid.