July 20, 2016

Never Trump

The Republican Party officially nominated Donald J. Trump as its presidential candidate last night. Reasonable, well-educated people thought this would never happen, but it has. Either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton will be elected to lead the Free World (as we used to say) this November by the people of the United States.

In The Episcopal Church, we also hold elections. Bishops are elected by the people of our dioceses. Before candidates are put forth, however, nominating committees investigate possible candidates for their suitability for the job. One mandatory element of this vetting is a psychological evaluation. A potential candidate who shows little concern for others, for example, would normally be eliminated from consideration.

Donald Trump
Illustration for The New Yorker
by Javier Jaén
Regrettably, we have no such test for presidential candidates. In the case of Donald Trump, however, I think we have the information we would want from a formal psychological evaluation. The July 25, 2016, issue of The New Yorker, contains a revealing article by Jane Mayer titled “Trump’s Boswell Speaks.” The tagline at the head of the piece is “The ghostwriter of ‘The Art of the Deal’ says that Trump is unfit to lead.” (Note: The story is available on the Web here, where it is titled “Donald Trump’s Ghostwriter Tells All.” The tagline is “‘The Art of the Deal’ made America see Trump as a charmer with an unfailing knack for business. Tony Schwartz helped create that myth—and regrets it.” I can’t say why the article has a different title on the Web from what appears in the magazine. I suspect that the Web title makes better click bait.)

Mayer’s piece explains how ghostwriter Tony Schwartz had to manipulate Trump in order to extract enough information to write the book that became a bestseller. Because Trump seems incapable of self-reflection, Schwartz was forced to shadow the mogul throughout his day, even listening in on all his phone calls. For the sake of a good read, Schwartz made Trump seem engaging and clever. In fact, he saw Trump as a narcissistic sociopath with the attention span of a gnat. Schwartz is remorseful for the part he played in advancing Trump’s career and presumably consented to be interviewed as a means of atoning for his sin.

Anyone with even the slightest thought that voting for Trump might be a sane thing to do needs to read and reflect on Mayer’s article.

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