Six Fireflies Beeping Randomly


Even for those of us who hate and despise Trumpism, it is hard to admit to ourselves, or to bring ourselves to say, that our fellow citizens have elected a President who suffers from a serious mental disability.

But there it is.

Because he is delusional, he often cannot distinguish between reality and illusion.

Because he does not think like a normal person, he does not know how normal people think.

Not knowing how normal people think, he cannot reason through how they are likely to react to some action or utterance on his part.

He is a danger to himself and others.

David Brooks writes,

At base, Trump is an infantalist. There are three tasks that most mature adults have sort of figured out by the time they hit 25. Trump has mastered none of them. Immaturity is becoming the dominant note of his presidency, lack of self-control his leitmotif.

First, most adults have learned to sit still. But 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.

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. …

Second, most people of drinking age have achieved some accurate sense of themselves, some internal criteria to measure their own merits and demerits. But 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. …

Third, by adulthood most people can perceive how others are thinking. For example, they learn subtle arts such as false modesty so they won’t be perceived as obnoxious.

But Trump seems to have not yet developed a theory of mind. Other people are black boxes that supply either affirmation or disapproval. As a result, he is weirdly transparent. He wants people to love him, so he is constantly telling interviewers that he is widely loved. …

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.

“We badly want to understand Trump, to grasp him,” David Roberts writes in Vox. “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 is no there there?”

And out of that void comes a carelessness that quite possibly betrayed an intelligence source, and endangered a country.

And when will Republican congressional leaders finally do an intervention?

Probably not until he gives a news conference in his pajamas and screams obscenities at the ghost of Rutherford B. Hayes.

That’s where we’re going folks.

Because it’s getting worse, fast.

And other than that, Aardvark hopes that you are enjoying the play.