The Boy King
The fact that we are running concentration camps with horrific, inhumane conditions on our southern border should be disgusting enough. But Trump compounds this horror with a child-like fixation on the minor details of his July 4th ego trip, oblivious, indifferent, and/or satisfied with the suffering his policies have created. But his celebration within a celebration is just another typical Trump project, poorly constructed with the faux décor of wealth and power and leveraging other people’s work all for his own self-aggrandizement.
Obviously, Trump’s demand for tanks and flyovers is not the introduction of martial law. But it is yet another significant step in the politicization of the military which was earlier illustrated by its deployment to the border to support Trump’s attempt to build the wall. And it is yet another politicization of an event with a long history of non-partisanship designed to unite the country.
Trump’s celebration will be, much like his inauguration, a pathetic flop that he will still insist is the greatest ever. The tanks will not be rolling through the streets. Instead, a handful of them will be trucked into position and put on planks to save the roadways and Capitol area. The fireworks show will be short and unable to compare with the one that follows. The invite-only crowd will be thin and filled with grifters seeking favor with the administration, such as the CEO of the company supplying the fireworks for the event. And, of course, the cost will be largely borne by all US taxpayers. In sum, it is once again Trump using a larger event, organized by others and focused on doing good, simply as a forum for his own self-promotion. It is no different than in 1990s when he just showed up and took credit for a charity event for children with AIDS when he had absolutely nothing to do with it. So this slapdash affair is just Trump being his typical disgusting, horrible, narcissistic self at the expense of a national celebration.
What makes this slightly different from the usual tacky Trump affair is just how pathetic the effort really is, considering that Trump was reportedly deeply involved in the details. And it seems part of the general deterioration in Trump’s abilities. Whether it is because he feels increasingly emboldened after seemingly surviving the Mueller report or otherwise, he seems increasingly erratic. He allows the hawks to ramp up war fever against Iran and then pulls back. He hastily arranges an incredibly short meeting with Kim Jong Un that accomplishes nothing other than further empowering the North Korean dictator while sending Bolton off to Mongolia. Even his crashing of the Independence Day celebration seems remarkably unfocused and haphazard considering all the time the President has spent supposedly focused on it.
As he increases his interviews with not only his propaganda outfit on Fox but other real media in the hopes of taking attention away from his potential Democratic contender, his answers often amount to simply a regurgitation of the question and a promise to “look at it”. He was always clueless about a lot of issues but was able to cover that up with decent sounding rhetoric or at least a pivot to an issue he did want to talk about. He seems increasingly unable to do even that, as his answer about busing illustrates. His answers about homelessness showed a similar lack of focus and also highlighted his increasing reliance on direct, bald-faced lies that contradict everyone’s agreed upon reality. Yes, Trump always lied but those lies, such as his characterization of Mexicans crossing the border, were usually broad and with just enough hint of potential hidden truth to make them palatable to his base. His inability to even rebut Stephanopoulos when confronted about his refusal to answer Mueller’s questions about obstruction and his claim that he ended family separation shows either just how far gone he is or just how far he is willing to go. Either way it is another sign of the seeming degradation of his abilities. As Dara Lind says about Trump’s latest attempt to get the citizenship question on the census, “We have hit the point where the president’s words are just mouth noises”.
Obviously, judging Trump’s mental state is admittedly impossible from afar. But he seems to truly have entered a boy-king phase, where his focus is minimal, his pronouncements, without any planning or warning to his advisors, are many, and the suffering he causes is immense. Unfortunately, this makes the President even more dangerous than when he was simply incompetent.