Compromise, Perfidy, Mental Illness

Why won’t Donald Trump defend U.S. against Russian attack

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Photo by idris djoudi on Unsplash

One trick to a “three card monte” game is to direct the mark’s attention away from the money card. This classic con can be worked many ways but a good sleight of hand artist can regularly focus the mark’s attention on the wrong card, the card that doesn’t pay off. Waiting out the report on the Mueller investigation has been a classic example of this principle. President Trump’s 500 or so declarations that “there was no collusion” has focused most of the attention, from both his supporters and detractors, on the one question posed to Mr. Mueller that was least likely to pay off, the question of conspiracy.

Two other questions were just as important; did the Russians interfere in the 2016 election, and did the president attempt to derail the investigation into that possible interference? The answer to the first question was yes, despite the president’s many denials and deflections on this point, Mueller found that it was not “a 400 pound guy on his couch” who hacked into the Clinton campaign and the DNC, it was in fact the Russians. The answer to the second question appears to be yes as well. Mueller found evidence that President Trump attempted to derail or block the investigation into Russian interference, though for as yet unknown reasons Mueller declined to recommend prosecution.

Of course the FBI, CIA, and other members of the “intelligence community” informed the president about the Russian interference months before Mueller was appointed to investigate. The president in response has seldom failed to dismiss this possibility, calling the “Russia thing” a “hoax”, a denial that raised FBI suspicions and helped start the investigation in the first place. Now, the question must be asked and answered. If our intelligence agencies concluded and the Mueller investigation confirmed that Russia did actually attack our democratic process, why won’t the president condemn the attack, punish the perpetrators, and improve defenses against the next attack, the attack that the intelligence community is certain will come?

Many people have assumed that the president is compromised, acting on Russia’s behalf or in her favor to forestall the release of “compromat”, embarrassing or incriminating information held by Russia to extract favorable treatment from him. On its face this hypothesis is entirely plausible. Trump and his organization has a long history of transactions with Russian oligarchs, many of whom are known to have close ties to Putin. Trump’s own son has claimed that the organization gets much of its funding from Russia, and spy master/ex KGB official Putin is well known for his ability to extract and use compromat. You have to at least put compromise on the table.

It’s harder to imagine traitorous motives as a cause for Mr. Trump’s behavior. Given his long track record of demanding loyalty from those under him and yet showing little loyalty in return, it seems likely that he is only capable of serving himself, and perhaps his immediate family. His treatment of ex Senator and ex Attorney General Jeff Sessions is instructive. Sessions was literally the first important Republican political figure to endorse Trump, Sessions campaigned extensively with and for the president, and was rewarded with the AG position in which he diligently pursued the Trump agenda. And yet when Mr. Sessions followed clear Justice Department regulations and recused himself from involvement in the investigation into a campaign in which he was heavily involved, the president turned on him.

Showing not a scintilla of gratitude to this key supporter, Trump blasted, mocked, insulted and finally drove Sessions from the position for which he had given up his Senate seat. A man so utterly devoid of loyalty hardly seems likely to hold an allegiance to a foreign country in any high regard, other than for temporary financial gain, and Trump seems to have the goal of at least 6 more years of “public service”.

No, the most likely explanation for Mr. Trump’s long standing and consistent denial of Russian interference seems to have sprung from his classically narcissistic personality. The narcissist deems himself “unique and superior” and yet needs “continual admiration from others”. The narcissist experiences “grandiosity with the expectation of superior treatment from other people”, as well as “fixation on fantasies of power, success, intelligence and attractiveness, etc”. Starting to sound like anyone we know? The narcissist has a “need for continual admiration from others, and a sense of entitlement to special treatment and to obedience from others”. All above quotes are from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, cited in WikipediA’s page on Narcissistic personality disorder.

This page is worth a read for anybody seeking to understand, predict, or influence Mr. trump’s behavior. It certainly explains how on the day after inauguration he could obsess over the size of his inauguration crowd and shove Press Secretary Sean Spicer out in front of reporters to prevaricate about that crowd, or why he “fell in love” with Kim Jung Un. To the Narcissist it’s never acceptable to admit that he got help, whether he needed help or not; think the “small million dollar loan which I had to pay back” that he claims got him started in business; never mind that he was worth $1 million or so by age 10 and ended up inheriting around $400 million. No, to a narcissist the thought that he might owe some small portion of “the greatest Electoral College victory since Ronald Reagan” to an outside party, any outside party, is simply untenable. Making that false claim, however, falls directly into the DSM list of symptoms.

Master carpenter, watercolor artist, beat up old jock and somewhat reluctant care giver, owned by Black Lab Bo who considers two tennis balls a minimum mouthful

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