Amusement, Contempt, Pity, and Fear

Lion King

Contemptuous Amusement

No, Donald, we’re not laughing WITH you, we’re laughing AT you.

Like other progressives, I often experience contemptuous amusement when thinking of The Donald. In Week 10: Donald Trump, Lion King, Jack Shafer captures the mood superbly:

Our leonine president spent the week pawing and poking his downed prey, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, licking the little man’s fur in great slurps with appetite-whetting tweets as he dillydallied about delivering the death bite and devouring his catch. …

Was it human sadism at work, an indication of how frustrated Trump has become at blunting the investigation into the scandal with no name? Or was it just Trump obeying the law of the savanna, which dictates that the strongest, largest cat with the most tufted mane and the most prolific seed shall dominate the pride at his leisure? …

His hairdo matted with lion spittle, Sessions temporarily escaped to El Salvador for a photo-op about deporting MS-13’s bad hombres. He quivered like a baby wildebeest suffering PTSD when Fox News Channel’s Tucker Carlson caught up with him to inquire about the president’s scolding. Trump’s steady disparagement was “kind of hurtful,” a humbled Sessions squeaked, “but the president of the United States is a strong leader.”

And so on, and so forth. It’s a fine piece. Feel free to divert yourself by reading the whole thing. I won’t blame you; in fact, I’ll join in with you, yucking it up.


That said, it is becoming clearer day by day that Donald Trump is a miserable man suffering from a serious mental disorder—a defect that literally makes it impossible for him to do the work he is paid to do. And, yes, I do mean “miserable” in the sense of “pitiably small or inadequate.” But, mainly, I mean “miserable” in the other sense: “wretchedly unhappy or uncomfortable.”

Suppose you knew a friend, Robert, in the days when he was a great orator. Now, afflicted with Alzheimer’s, Robert can only bumble through a short speech, committing many errors in the process. Would you feel contempt for Robert? I hope not. Would you feel amusement? Well, maybe a little, because some of the errors might be comical. But mainly, if you are the kind of person your dog thinks you are, you would feel pity and empathy. And, so, I feel pity and empathy for Trump.


Then there is the fear factor. Let’s say you’re a passenger on an airplane, and you come to learn that the pilot, having become incapacitated, has handed the cockpit over to his five year old son.

You would probably feel pity for the pilot—and, for that matter, the pilot’s son. And the little boy’s attempt to guide the plane might have its comic moments. But mostly you would feel abject terror, because your airplane is being piloted by a little kid.

Mark my words.

This week, Donald Trump is losing whatever support he had with the Republican establishment. This week, with his attacks on Sessions, his wingnut following is beginning to question what flavor of Kool Aid they have poured down their throats.

Yes, there will always be some supporters left. Some people still think Nixon was a great guy who got a raw deal. Some still think Hitler was a fine German and it’s too bad he lost the war. A lot of Chinese remain fond of Mao. But there is going to come a time—sooner rather than later—when the temple all comes crashing down.

And what, ladies and germs, will The Donald do?

  1. He will do his level best to divide us and to bring out worst instincts. Yesterday’s paean to police brutality is an example.
  2. He may well encourage vigilante violence by wingnuts.
  3. He will probably start a war, most likely with North Korea.
  4. He will figure out ways to use his vast discretionary power as President to wreak vengeance on the American people, who, in his house or mirrors mind, will have betrayed him, and will have failed to recognize his greatness.