Monday, November 14, 2016

The Poisonous Snake And The Sated Tiger

I've now watched Lesley Stahl's interview of Donald Trump and his family.

It ran on last night's installment of 60 Minutes but I waited and watched it later online.

A huge part of me didn't want to watch it at all.  Since learning the election results early Wednesday morning, I've gone out of my way to avoid seeing or hearing Mr. Trump.  I've seen and heard enough of him in the last 18 months to last a lifetime.  At this point, the sight and the sound of the man can trigger what amounts to a severe allergic reaction in me.

I decided to watch anyway.

Why?  Because once you've seen a poisonous snake slither into your house, closing your eyes and hoping for the best is no longer much of an option.

The interview (like so many recent events) wasn't what I expected.  Mr. Trump seemed calm, collected, and almost humble.

In other words, Trump the president-elect apparently has almost nothing in common with Trump the candidate.

At times it even almost seemed as if he had read my last entry and was responding appropriately.

He actually looked into the camera and told those supporters of his who are engaging in hate crimes to stop.

He came close to apologizing for the nastiness of the campaign.

He even expressed his disapproval of the Electoral College system despite the fact that it's responsible for his victory.  If he had his way, he told viewers, the popular vote would determine the winner.  No, he didn't say "Therefore, I hope those electors pledged to me will vote for Hillary instead," but he came much closer than I would have predicted.

Now, needless to say, he wasn't perfect.  Far from it.  If you listen closely, you can hear bits and pieces of madness popping out with some regularity.

Could he really and truly be as unaware of the protests across the country as he claimed to be?  Such protests over an election haven't erupted in the US since Lincoln's victory in 1860.  Ignorance of these events and their historical significance is in some ways far more troubling than harsh denunciation would be.

Did he really say that Bill and Hillary Clinton were good people whom he didn't want to hurt?  Seriously?  After months and months of "Lock her up!" chants and after bringing the women who have accused Bill Clinton of sexual assault to the debate, and after all the rest?

There was policy madness, too.  He said gay marriage was a matter of settled law because the Supreme Court had ruled it ok while also saying that he would overturn Roe vs Wade (also a matter of settled law) by appointing only judges who would act accordingly to the Supreme Court.  He said he would get rid of Obamacare but keep at least two of its popular provisions (those dealing with pre-existing conditions and allowing adult children to remain covered by their parents's health care plans) without apparently realizing that it's the unpopular parts that pay for those.  He promised to create jobs by cutting taxes even though decades of study and experience show that cutting taxes is a pretty unreliable and ineffective way to create jobs.  He again promised to destroy ISIS while refusing to give any clue whatsoever as to how.  (He wouldn't even acknowledge Lesley Stahl's point about the right of the American people to know what he and their military might do in their name.)

I could go on and on about the many shallow, inane, and logically inconsistent proposals he made or alluded to.  In the end, though, it was once again his tone and manner that left the deepest and most disturbing impression.

I've struggled a bit to figure out why this was so.  After all, isn't a calm and collected Interview Trump better than Wild Campaign Trump?  Sure, there's an utterly unbridgeable gap between the two – a gap so huge that I have to wonder if he suffers from Multiple Personalities Syndrome – but this might in fact merely be Hypocritical Politician Syndrome writ large.

And then it came to me:  This is the manner of a tiger that has just devoured a kill.  The inner beast has been sated.  The raging appetites of the Id have been satisfied.  The angry volcano gods have received their virgin and been appeased.

For now.

Tomorrow?  Well, tomorrow is anybody's guess.  All we can be sure of is that someday the tiger will get hungry and kill again.

It's a pattern I remember only too well as an emotionally abused child.

My abuser often felt wonderful after the abuse and could go on as if nothing bad had ever happened.  They just couldn't understand why I wasn't as happy as they were, why I didn't want to be around them, why I couldn't trust them, why I couldn't simply forgive and forget – at least until next time.  How dare I threaten to ruin *their* good mood by sulking!  What a mean-spirited bastard *I* was for insisting on holding a grudge!         

Yes, it all comes back to me now.  It's a sick pattern of behavior that one never entirely forgets once one has been exposed to it.

A pattern that watching Trump last night has now brought back into crystal-clear focus.

I must not lose focus again.

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