ShareThis Page
George Will: Trump is a sad specimen | TribLIVE.com
George F. Will, Columnist

George Will: Trump is a sad specimen

George Will
| Saturday, January 19, 2019 8:00 p.m
648949_web1_TrumpAngry

WASHINGTON

Half or a quarter of the way through this interesting experiment with an incessantly splenetic presidency, much of the nation has become accustomed to daily mortifications. Or has lost its capacity for embarrassment, which is even worse.

If the country’s condition is calibrated simply by economic data — if, that is, America is nothing but an economy — then the state of the union is good. Except that after two years of unified government under the party that formerly claimed to care about fiscal facts and rectitude, the nation faces a $1 trillion deficit during brisk growth and full employment. Unless the president has forever banished business cycles — if he has, his modesty would not have prevented him from mentioning it — the next recession will begin with gargantuan deficits, which will be instructive.

The president has kept his promise not to address the unsustainable trajectory of the entitlement state (about the coming unpleasant reckoning, he says: “Yeah, but I won’t be here”), and his party’s congressional caucuses have elevated subservience to him into a political philosophy. The Republican-controlled Senate — the world’s most overrated deliberative body — will not deliberate about, much less pass, legislation the president does not favor. The evident theory is that it would be lese-majeste for the Senate to express independent judgments.

By his comportment, the president benefits his media detractors with serial vindications of their disparagements. They, however, have sunk to his level of insufferable self-satisfaction by preening about their superiority to someone they consider morally horrifying and intellectually cretinous. For most Americans, Trump’s expostulations are audible wallpaper, always there but not really noticed. Still, the ubiquity of his outpourings in the media’s outpourings gives American life its current claustrophobic feel. This results from many journalists considering him an excuse for a four-year sabbatical from thinking about anything other than the shiny thing that mesmerizes them by dangling himself in front them.

Dislike of him should be tempered by this consideration: He is an almost inexpressibly sad specimen. It must be misery to awaken to another day of being Donald Trump. He seems to have as many friends as his pluperfect self-centeredness allows, and as he has earned in an entirely transactional life. His historical ignorance deprives him of the satisfaction of working in a house where much magnificent history has been made. His childlike ignorance — preserved by a lifetime of single-minded self-promotion — concerning governance and economics guarantees that whenever he must interact with experienced and accomplished people he is as bewildered as a kindergartener at a seminar on string theory.

Which is why this fountain of self-refuting boasts (“I have a very good brain”) lies so much. He does so less to deceive anyone than to reassure himself. And as balm for his base, which remains oblivious to his likely contempt for them as sheep who can be effortlessly gulled by preposterous fictions. The tungsten strength of his supporters’ loyalty is as impressive as his indifference to expanding their numbers.

Either the electorate, bored with a menu of faintly variant servings of boorishness, or the 22nd Amendment will end this, our shabbiest but not our first shabby presidency. As Mark Twain and fellow novelist William Dean Howells stepped outside together one morning, a downpour began and Howells asked, “Do you think it will stop?” Twain replied, “It always has.”


George Will writes for The Washington Post.


George Will is a columnist for The Washington Post and can be reached via email.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.