Richard S. Bogartz: The broken man in the White House

  • President Donald Trump at the White House on Jan. 29. AP

Saturday, February 08, 2020

He is broken. He lied his way into office by lying to the desperate, the misinformed, those fed up with how government had treated them, those looking for a rogue. He has a genius for manipulating a segment of the electorate. Still, he is broken.

It is easy to imagine him as a child repeatedly being called a dummy. Reading is not easy for him. His areas of ignorance are unsurpassed in presidential history. Who ever imagined a president who’d make George W. Bush look smart? He knows little of geography, less about the military and how it works, nothing about how to behave decently and reciprocally with others.

His knowledge of “leadership” is limited to threat, intimidation, mockery, name-calling, relentless attack and counterattack, and replacement of those who disagree. He appears to be a fuhrer wannabe.

Intellectual disparagement in youth might well have induced his frequent arrogance, boastfulness, bragging and conceit. He claims to be a stable genius. When elected, he asked Mike Bloomberg what he should do. Bloomberg said he should hire people smarter than himself. Without hesitation this broken man replied that there aren’t any. He was not joking. For any x, he is ready to say “I know x. I make the best x. They’re terrific. Everyone agrees.”

Walls, military decisions, love, revenge, cabinet selections, deals, diplomacy and business decisions. He repeatedly went bankrupt. He bankrupted gambling casinos! Yet he actually believes he is a business genius and of unsurpassed brilliance in every domain. He appreciates others describing him as God’s chosen leader for the U.S. and the world.

For him, others are tools, have no center of consciousness, do not have cares or concerns that matter. Any display of apparent kindness is done with an eye to what’s in it for him. But he will be gone. His unprecedented body of lies will be forgotten except in the history books. I am writing this after the vote to not bring witnesses or documents into the Senate impeachment trial, but before the inevitable vote to acquit. What of those who will vote in favor of that acquittal?

What of the Republicans in Congress? What have they modeled for us? What lesson do they leave for the citizens? For the children? Is it that the ends justify the means? That your oath means nothing? That your sworn duty to the country and the Constitution means nothing?

That the lies they have repeatedly told don’t count because in their minds their fingers were crossed behind their back? That this is the way government is supposed to work? That the legalized bribery that is Citizens United and the legalized cover up that they are perpetrating is the way government should proceed? That only reelection matters? These are dishonorable folk who dishonor themselves and abet the dishonoring of the country by how they have supported the broken president.

Every senator swore “that in all things appertaining to the trial of the impeachment of Donald John Trump, president of the United States, now pending, I will do impartial justice according to the Constitution and laws, so help me God.”

Those voting to suppress the evidence broke this oath. They did not do impartial justice. They refused to allow the evidence to come forward. The Senate leader took the oath but collaborated with the defense attorneys and rigged the votes in advance. Did he give Sen. Susan Collins a pass to vote with Sen. Mitt Romney in favor of witnesses and documents, and make sure that Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Lamar Alexander did not vote that way so that no tie could occur that the chief justice might break the wrong way?

Dear reader, that which we knew could never happen here is happening here. Now. We are being sold that the president cannot be impeached no matter what he does, so long as what he does benefits his reelection and he believes his reelection is for the good of the country. It is a small step to his not being impeachable as long as whatever he has done was, in his mind, good for the country.

And there you have an absolute dictator. Will he dissolve Congress? Dissolve the courts? Build camps for Muslims? Deport people of color? Does anyone really imagine there are limits beyond which he will not go?

The broken man in the White House is a clear and present danger to the country and to humanity.

Richard S. Bogartz is a professor of psychology at the University of Massachusetts.