Sorry, EU, We Fouled Our Nest with Trump
NEWPORT BEACH — (The Nedelman Report) As an American, I wish to send a note of apology to our European friends for fouling our nest with Donald Trump. Gorillas are known to defecate in their nests, too, and America, if nothing else, is a 500-pound gorilla on the world stage. The last time America fouled its nest was with the 2000 election of one of America’s more thinking-challenged, evangelical Christian presidents, George W. “(Iraq) Mission Accomplished” Bush, and we all know where that got us—the Iraq War and a world economic meltdown.
How could the catastrophe of President Donald Trump happen? Well, consider Brexit. Exploiting economic inequality, fear, and anger works wonders temporarily. Then, invariably, reality rears its ugly head to bite one on the bum. More importantly, though, what can you fellow travelers from across the pond expect from Donald Trump and America?
“If Trump’s election does not put a face worthy of Dorian Gray to evangelical Christianity and set the needle on your moral compass spinning wildly, nothing will.”
Understand How Trump Happened to Understand What Will Happen. Approximately 35% of Americans identify as evangelical Christians, and this gullible, faith-based community gleefully elected a buffoonish, Cheetos®-tinted, sociopath, sexual predator, and man-brat as President of the United States. Almost 80% of white evangelical Christians with defective moral compasses cast their votes to elect a raging narcissist who has demonstrated beyond any reasonable doubt that he flat-out lies 80% of the time—confirmed by fact-checking studies. Trump is also a serial bankrupt—four times, no less, a debt-dodger—4,000 lawsuits, and a sexual predator who spoke glowingly about his TV star-status granting him license to indiscriminately grab women’s genitals without warning or consent. Truly, by any enlightened Western community standards of conduct, Trump is an ethical cretin and moral reprobate. If Trump’s election does not put a face worthy of Dorian Gray to evangelical Christianity and set the needle on your moral compass spinning wildly, nothing will.
Powerful evangelical Christian political action committees (PACs), like the Moral Majority and their ilk, are quite proficient at getting out the fundamentalist Christian vote by whipping up followers into a frenzy of righteous indignation over religious, immigration, and gun rights issues. For example, even when ordered to do so by law, some evangelical Christian public officials refused to issue marriage licenses to gay applicants. Our conservative, Catholic dominated Supreme Court dismantled campaign contribution laws, allowing wealthy fundamentalist conservatives like the Koch brothers to contribute unlimited cash to candidates who slavishly support Christian faith-based positions and agendas. These include opposition to women’s rights, gay rights, gay marriage, immigration, and minority rights. These are regressive, fundamentalist Christian and white nationalist positions of which Europeans are well aware.
Unfortunately, America’s secular humanist Enlightenment foundations have been undermined by fundamentalist evangelical Christians and Catholics who have broken free from their constitutionally proscribed First Amendment restraints—the separation of church and state—to run amok in the public square to promote their religious agendas. This is how Trump, so spectacularly ignorant of economic, domestic, and foreign policy, came to power. Understanding how this compulsive, 3-AM bathroom-break, buffoonish tweeter of foreign policy became President of the United States has much to say about what will happen. Donald J. Trump will give new depth and urgency to the words erratic and compulsive over the next four years, if he is not impeached in the interim.
What Europe Can Expect from Trump. So, my European friends, here is what you can expect from America’s new Commander in Chief, or should I say, Sexual Predator in Chief? Before I proceed, though, did anyone find it a coincidence that Putin’s “separatists” reignited fighting in the Ukraine the day following Putin spoke with Trump?
“With Trump, we’re all sailing in uncharted waters, and I am reminded of what ancient mapmakers inscribed on on unknown areas of their charts—’Here There Be Dragons’. A modern mapmaker thinking of Trump might add, ‘Here There Be Sociopaths and Psychopaths.’”
As we have already witnessed repeatedly, Trump loves to draw attention to himself by creating confusion and tension, so expect Trump to issue a stream of mixed signals, lies, and braggadocio, resulting in great confusion on the world stage. Also expect more financial deregulation and protectionist policies from your American friends with exceedingly short memories of the 2008 world economic meltdown and its causes—primarily the deregulation of financial institution and markets. Trump and his conservative Republican cohorts plan to the put the inmates in charge of the asylum once again. No good can come of this.
With Trump, we’re all sailing in uncharted waters, and I am reminded of what ancient mapmakers inscribed on unknown areas their charts, “Here there be dragons.” A modern mapmaker thinking of Trump might add, “Here there be sociopaths and psychopaths.” Even the most “normal and well-adjusted” of us do display at times and to lesser degrees watered down versions of sociopathic behavior and psychopathy. This is normal, but one must ask, do Trump’s actions and “symptoms” fall within the normal range?
“If Donald J. Trump has a soul, it goose-steps.”
Throughout the first week of his presidency and in the face of incontrovertible proof to contrary, Trump’s compulsive fixation and lying about his inauguration attendance numbers being lower than Obama’s gave objectively rational people pause. This clearly is not normal or rational behavior. But, a point in Trump’s favor: studies have shown that psychopathy is actually more common in business leaders, like Trump, than so-called disturbed criminals. These include “…superficial charm, egocentricity, persuasiveness, lack of empathy, independence, and focus…”[i]
With criminals, we see higher levels of impulsivity and aggression, character traits Trump demonstrated at campaign stops when he urged his audience to violence against dissenters and protesters. In two short weeks as President, we’ve seen him become enraged at people who do not promptly follow his orders and directives, whether legal or not, as with the ban on people from seven Muslim countries. Trump immediately fired the acting Attorney General, Sally Yates, after she refused to endorse or defend Trump’s Muslim travel ban. If Donald J. Trump has a soul, it goose-steps.
While Trump’s unannounced frenetic genital-groping of women assures us that sexual foreplay is not one of his strengths, it is indicative that we should not expect to witness any subtleties or restraint from Trump in other areas of his life, as well, particularly foreign policy. Trump’s impulsive tweeting rants about foreign policy are hair-raising, because if this occurs during the first week of his presidency, what the hell is coming down the road?
Impulsivity, a potentially explosive character flaw, is particularly dangerous in a President. A case in point: Trump’s recent, sensationally combative call to the Austrailia’s Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, wherein Trump lashed out about an agreement in place to accept 1,250 refugees from Austrailia and bragged about the size if his electoral college victory. European leaders can expect more of the same childish behavior from Trump with even bigger and more appalling surprises along the way. For a 70-year-old, Trump puts on impressively impulsive and pouty displays of adolescent behavior.
Trump is a man who has difficulty keeping his appetites, desires, or thoughts in check. The United States has never had an uncontrollable, ill-tempered, ill-informed, compulsively tweeting motor-mouth as President, and it’s not going down well… except with evangelical Christians who find Trump’s erratic behavior refreshing and continue to cheer him on. With minimal reflection, please note that people with strong attachments to invisible celestial friends, like ISIS fighters or fundamentalist evangelical Christians, are often comforted by the vitriolic, irrational, and erratic behavior of a Trump or similar personality.
Consider: the frontal lobes of our brains have evolved over millions of years to reason and to restrain our urges, anger, and desires, and to keep inappropriate thoughts and statements from tumbling out our mouths. Trump’s frontal lobes are clearly not up to any of the tasks assigned to them. This is confirmed by his recent appointments of inexperienced men with business conflicts of interest to cabinet level positions they are uniquely unqualified to hold. Trump’s appointment to Secretary of State is ExxonMobil’s CEO, Rex Tillerson. While having no government or diplomatic experience, Tillerson does have massive conflicts of interest issues due to his extensive business ties to Russia and the Middle East. While Tillerson is level-headed, thoughtful, and obviously far more intelligent than Trump, will he be independent enough to minimize Trump’s potential to damage to European relations? Doubtful, as Trump reacts irrationally with vitriol, and with malice to those who don’t support his every whim.
“If there was ever a half-pint cowboy in a ten-gallon hat holding a high-level cabinet position, it’s Rick Perry.”
More evidence of Trump’s frontal lobe failures is his spectacular intellectually offensive cabinet pick of Rick Perry, the former governor of Texas, to head the Department of Energy. Perry, who barely graduated with a 2.0 in Animal Science, will be tasked with the management of the nation’s energy grid, nuclear power plants, and nuclear weapons, and promoting America’s leadership in science. He will be replacing Dr. Ernest Moniz, a Stanford-educated theoretical physicist and world-renowned MIT professor. During a presidential primary debate four years ago, Perry literally couldn’t remember that there was a Department of Energy. If there was ever a half-pint cowboy in a ten-gallon hat holding a high-level cabinet position, it’s Rick Perry. After his debate debacle, Perry doffed his cowboy boots and started wearing nerd glasses and lace up shoes in an effort to appear more intelligent. It worked. Trump appointed this walking/talking mind-fart to one of the most intellectually demanding positions in the government and the world. If Trump really cared one whit for science in America or advancing science between America and Europe, he would have created a special energy cabinet position more in line with Perry’s intellectual gifts and capacity, say, Director of Microwave Ovens.
Affecting Europe, Trump will make bold moves towards protectionism, essentially 18th-century mercantilism, which Adam Smith in his Wealth of Nations demonstrated was a very bad idea over two hundred years ago. New protectionist policies will negatively affect the economic output of every country and cause worldwide friction and conflict. Regressive-thinking mercantilists, like Trump and conservative Republicans, believe wealth is a zero net sum game. It’s a “them or us” transactional mindset. That is, another’s gain is always at their expense or loss. This is why Trump drones incessantly on about America making bad treaty deals and being screwed over by its NATO allies.
It has been historically demonstrated that the wealth pie gets larger with time, population, scientific and technological advances, and production gains. This is beyond the scope of Trump’s understanding or his willingness to understand, so expect Trump to throw the first punches in what will become an economic slugfest with friend and foe, alike. We witnessed the opening salvos this past week with Trump’s wild jingoistic tweeting about the wall with Mexico, scrapping the Asian trade agreement which Obama worked long and hard to make possible, and renegotiating NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement.
“Although Trump is clearly a compulsive and inveterate liar with little finesse, he has always exhibited an impressive array of guttersnipe cunning.”
Trump’s narcissism, combined with his profound lack of knowledge of economics and world affairs, will come together in a perfect storm of temper tantrums, wild and baseless proclamations, lying, goofy ill-conceived presidential directives, all accompanied by a total disregard for treaty, convention, shared history, or law. Trump’s impromptu ban on immigrants this past week without consulting his national security advisors, and the mayhem he created, demonstrate Trump does not think before he acts or care much about the consequences of his rash behavior. Trump is like the proverbial bull in the china shop—on methamphetamines. He will occasionally play nice, seeking to slake his unquenchable narcissism by seeking adulation and adoration from world leaders. But Trump is not built to stick to any script for any length of time before another attention-generating idea strays into his attention deficit, saffron-tinted noggin. As Trump is the joker, the wildcard in the deck on European affairs, you can expect him to be the wild man.
You Europeans will have good reason to become even more jittery about that aggressive, opportunistic Russian bear that’s been nibbling pieces off the edges of your property. A brutal and thuggish Putin praised Trump, stroking his perpetually needy, narcissistically impaired ego, and Trump responded in kind, not only by praising Putin, but openly questioning America’s commitment to NATO, Europe’s military bulwark against Russian aggression. Although Trump is clearly a compulsive and inveterate liar with little finesse, he has always exhibited an impressive array of guttersnipe cunning. Nonetheless, easily manipulated with flattery and played for a chump by those even more cunning, Trump is no match for Putin, whom he admires for his strongman persona.
This does not bode well for old member states of the USSR who lean towards the West and democracy. The Ukraine and the Crimea are just opening bids in Putin’s dream to reestablish the USSR in some form. I do not believe Trump will oppose Putin on his goal, and, again, it is ominous that Putin’s separatists in the Ukraine restarted hostilities the day following Putin’s conversation with Trump. The U.S. may condemn Russia for its actions in the Ukraine, but will the condemnation carry any weight when Trump is so vocal in his admiration for Putin and his often lethal solutions to his problems. Will any U.S. condemnation of Russia be more than a sham with Trump as President? Nobody knows, but look to how aggressive the Ukrainian “separatists” become for the answer. My bet is more aggressive. It is my view that Putin considers Trump’s presidency a four-year window in which to make aggressive moves to expand and consolidate Russian influence in Eastern Europe and destroy Western European economic and military cohesion.
Europe and NATO will never know with certainty if Trump will back Europe’s play in a tight spot. Particularly now, with Trump’s bromance with Putin—who just may have, as has been reported, compromising information about Trump, both sexual and business in nature, that could lead to Trump’s blackmailing or impeachment if made public.
So, I say to the European nations, and Mexico, too, like timeworn friends wrought from old, shared adversity and conflicts mellowed by the passing years, put not your trust in Trump, a man-brat who has and will always put his uncontrollable, narcissistic emotional needs and business relationships before his nation or Western unity. An example of this was Trump’s six-year running claim of Barak Obama not being born in America, intended to delegitimize Barak Obama’s presidency with an outright lie while pandering to white, evangelical Christian conservatives. With a vicious and unmitigated malice aforethought, Trump clearly enjoyed the mayhem he created with the more gullible, thinking-challenged Americans, particularly our white evangelical Christians so easily manipulated by their church leaders and right-wing Republican politicians. Few Republicans had the moral or ethical integrity to speak out against Trump’s lies because it suited their purposes. Fostering hate and division was far more important to Trump and his far right evangelical Christian Republican supporters than doing anything ethically correct, right, and good for America. In short, Trump is a man devoid of ethics or honor, and consequently, cannot be trusted at any level. Trump and Putin are a match made in heaven, and only fools would turn their backs on either man.
Therefore, Europe, look to your own and band together more closely because Trump and America are no longer trustworthy allies. An article in the Washington Post noted that almost all national security professionals consider Trump a threat to the U.S.’s national security. If this is true, then what can Europe expect?
“Tom Malinowski, who was President Barack Obama’s assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights and labor, said, sarcastically: “Is it unusual? . . . There’s nothing unusual about the entire national security bureaucracy of the United States feeling like their commander in chief is a threat to U.S. national security.”
Since the United States has seen fit to elect a foreign policy ignoramus with questionable mental and emotional stability as President, backed by a short-sighted, ultra-conservative, faith-based Republican-dominated Congress, put neither your faith nor your trust in America. The United States at this time in history has few majority Republican leaders in Congress of sober reflection or integrity, with the exception of Senator John McCain. Donald Trump and most Republican leaders do not understand nor appreciate the ancient bonds that link our countries. One cannot expect dishonorable, self-serving, faith-based political toadies to do honorable deeds or respect agreements made in good faith. So, EU and Europe, you must look to yourselves, now, and to your neighbors for support and protection. The truth be told, with Donald Trump as President, the United States of America is no longer Europe’s dependable ally.
[i] Kevin Dutton, The Wisdom of Psychopaths, (New York, Scientific American/Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2013), 21