I had to explore New York Times Columnist David Brooks new op-ed that got to the core or rather the lack thereof in his op-ed this morning about Donald Trump. His words were not mean spirited and in so doing was that more palatable to most, even as piercingly honest and destructive as it is. We need objective Trump narratives of this type spread widely.
David Brooks has a way with words even when I disagree with him for ideological reasons. He has an ideology, but he is not ideological as evidenced his Trump take down.
Brooks starts his article by assuaging the fears that Trump was "a budding authoritarian, a corrupt Nixon, a rabble-rousing populist, or a big business corporatist," by pointing out that "At base, Trump is an infantalist" which means he is incapable of having those attributes in any realistic fashion. He points out that most adults have 'sort of' figured out three tasks by the time they are 25. The first, how to sit still. The second, a sense of themselves. And the third, a perception of how others are thinking. Brooks said that Trump mastered none of them,
Brooks slams Trump's level of maturity. We must remember that this is the world 'leader' who has the nuclear codes.
Mentally, Trump is still a 7-year-old boy who is bouncing around the classroom. Trump’s answers in these interviews are not very long — 200 words at the high end — but he will typically flit through four or five topics before ending up with how unfair the press is to him.
He points out that the president has no ability to focus or impulse control.
His inability to focus his attention makes it hard for him to learn and master facts. He is ill informed about his own policies and tramples his own talking points. It makes it hard to control his mouth. On an impulse, he will promise a tax reform when his staff has done little of the actual work.
He describes Trump's damaging level of insecurity.
Trump seems to need perpetual outside approval to stabilize his sense of self, so he is perpetually desperate for approval, telling heroic fabulist tales about himself. ... He wants people to love him, so he is constantly telling interviewers that he is widely loved. In Trump’s telling, every meeting was scheduled for 15 minutes but his guests stayed two hours because they liked him so much.
But the most dangerous attribute Trump has is his inability to know what he does not know.
He is thus the all-time record-holder of the Dunning-Kruger effect, the phenomenon in which the incompetent person is too incompetent to understand his own incompetence.
David Brooks points out that the Trump's most recent screw-up, revealing classified information to the Russians, was not necessarily the case that the American president is a Russian agent, but instead because of the attributes mentioned above.
He did it because he is sloppy, because he lacks all impulse control, and above all because he is a 7-year-old boy desperate for the approval of those he admires.
Brooks point out that "there is perpetually less to Trump than it appears" which means one should not try to analyze what big scheme or machinations are driving the president's actions or policies.
Trump’s statements don’t necessarily come from anywhere, lead anywhere or have a permanent reality beyond his wish to be liked at any given instant. We’ve got this perverse situation in which the vast analytic powers of the entire world are being spent trying to understand a guy whose thoughts are often just six fireflies beeping randomly in a jar.
David then quotes Vox's, David Roberts.
We badly want to understand Trump, to grasp him. It might give us some sense of control, or at least an ability to predict what he will do next. But what if there’s nothing to understand? What if there’s no there, there?
David Brooks was always willing to hit Donald Trump pretty hard even when many Republicans appeased him. Who can forget his words after Trump's attack on Khizr Khan, the father of a slain-in-combat Muslim-American hero at the Democratic National Convention?
Also published on Medium.