By Dr David Laing Dawson
Can we move Canada? I’m thinking we could incorporate New Zealand and settle in next to Australia in the South Pacific.
This wish comes from watching yet another white house coronavirus task force briefing. I am tired of hearing, watching, listening to a most incredible (Trump managed to use that word nine times in the first few minutes) melange of failure, lies and boasting. His other favourite (and lazy) superlative is some variation of “Like the world has never seen before.”
On the other hand, along with lessons in virology, the history of infections and epidemics, the manner in which (scientifically) medicines are developed and tested, how vaccines work, some human biology and ecology, we also are all watching the persistence of a personality disorder.
Donald Trump’s voracious narcissism and psychopathy served him well during his campaign, and then in the first three years of his presidency as he bluffed his way through. The lying, boasting, bragging, the blaming of others in a persistent child-like manner, the “all about me” and “l’etat c’est moi”, all worked for him. The fact he knew little, cared less, and said whatever came to mind, worked for him, astonishing most of us. Even when saying something a little less provocative or narcissistic should have been an easy and strategic choice, he persisted in the same vein. And still it worked for him.
Along comes the pandemic, COVID -19. Now while big lies, inaccuracies, non-sequiturs, nonsense, ignorance, exaggerations, blaming others, boasting of fantasy successes – while, to not make too fine a point of it – absolute bullshit – is apparently a successful way of stick handling through economics, immigration, health care, wars, climate change, trade, military matters and foreign policy, I thought a pandemic would require some actual knowledge and selfless consideration from a leader.
But the reason certain traits and persistent ways of behaving become labeled “personality disorders” is precisely because the pattern of behaviour persists even when, to any other sane observer, this particular context requires, demands a different response, if only for self-preservation.
And in Trump’s case the pattern persists even in the face of a world pandemic.
Some thought that this would be his undoing, that his display of ignorance coupled with his grandiosity and narcissism in the face of this global threat would cause an unraveling, or, at the very least, expose him for the fraud that he is.
But maybe even here he has stumbled onto a formula that will work for him: He steps to the microphone, brags and lies randomly (his popularity, his saving of a million lives, his brilliance, his fine leadership, his poll numbers, his TV ratings, even going back to his election win, the “Russia hoax”, the sacrifice of his billions to become president), lashes out at any criticism, repeatedly compares himself favorably with all others, displays a petulance worthy of a 13 year old, even tries to sell a little snake oil and usurp medical science, and then steps aside to let the experts (and a couple of sketchy choices) do the actual work, most of whom know well enough to praise and thank him every step of the way, while he waits impatiently to take the microphone again.
Unfortunately there are many in his country who listen to Dr. Trump rather than the experts, the sane, the sensible, the compassionate.
And hence my wish to move Canada to the South Pacific. Please. I suppose we’d have to flip it to maintain our melting ice fields.