“Lover?” she asks, her voice reminding me of someone human.” – American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis
And here we thought it would be Russia, or international money laundering, or rampant corruption, or electoral fraud, or tax evasion, or pussy grabbing, or world class incompetence, or nepotism, or ignoring subpoenas, or obstructing justice, or calling the Supreme Court Justices chuckleheads, or embracing vicious dictators while insulting allies, or withdrawing from the Iran deal, or making consumers pay for tariffs, or ennobling skin-heads, or persecuting brown- skinned refugees, or sadistically imprisoning children, or disclosing state secrets to foreign adversaries, or accusing national intelligence agencies of spying on him, or not knowing when airports were invented, or tweeting inanities on the toilet, or juvenile name calling, or lying, stealing, or cheating – or being the laughingstock of the world.
But it’s none of these. And he still might win re-election in 2020. So, with all the Venn diagrams showing Trump’s complicity with most of the leading miscreants on earth, Enquiring Minds Want to Know: Will Jeffrey Epstein be Trump’s Waterloo?
In Bret Easton Ellis’s, “American Psycho”, Patrick Bateman, the shallow, vicious young protagonist who idolizes Donald Trump and revels in his own twisted sense of evil, muses “Is evil something you are? Or is it something you do?”
For at least half of America’s population, Epstein’s arrest for sex trafficking and pedophilia should be the most lurid example of the underbelly of the plutocracy that has broken the back of American democracy. The Masters of the Universe have gorged themselves on unregulated sectors of our economy, have set new lows for standards of rapacity and decency, and have swallowed up little girls (or as Donald Trump would say, “girls on the younger side”) to the point that a vote for Trump has to be a vote for debauchery.
In Easton’s book, Patrick Bateman remarks to himself, “There wasn’t a clear, identifiable emotion within me, except for greed and possibly, total disgust. I had all the characteristics of a human being – flesh, blood, skin, hair – but my depersonalization was so intense, had gone so deep, that the normal ability to feel compassion had been eradicated, the victim of a slow, purposeful erasure. I was simply imitating reality, a rough resemblance of a human being, with only a dim corner of my mind functioning. Something horrible was happening and yet I couldn’t figure out why – I couldn’t put my finger on it.”
But surely, by now, we can put a finger on it. These men, Jeffrey Epstein and Donald Trump, share more than a decades-long friendship; they share a worldview that was emerging in the 80s that defined the traits of the winners. Movies were made, and books were written about the distortion of American culture that the “Greed is Good” mentality of the 80s and 90s promoted. Predators became admired men of Wall Street. Real estate moguls like Donald Trump were icons of this Reagan era as they slouched toward Bethlehem to be born. Our celebrity culture became congenital, and with it arose our own indifference to cruelty. (see: Children in cages for more information on this.)
There are so many connections to the unthinkable in this tragedy of American decline, so many threads that seem to just hang there unexamined, that someone needs to draw a bigger Venn diagram to help us put “our finger on it”. How does sex trafficking coincide with modeling agencies that specialize in Eastern European girls; how does pussy grabbing correlate with beauty pageants held in Russia? As the owner of the Miss Universe Pageant, Donald Trump is quoted as saying, “I’ll go backstage before a show, and everyone’s getting dressed and ready and everything else. …You know, no men are anywhere. And I’m allowed to go in because I’m the owner of the pageant. And therefore, I’m inspecting it… You know, they’re standing there with no clothes. And you see these incredible-looking women. And so, I sort of get away with things like that”.
For women and girls, there is a visceral revulsion at the sight of these men as they brag about their contempt, exploitation, and abuse of girls and young women. For men, I wonder if it’s not on some sort of sliding scale. The puerile snickering of Billy Bush was confirmation of what I’ve seen throughout my life – of what I’ve experienced as a woman.
The disclosures of the Epstein pedophilia should be the straw that breaks this pervert’s back and sends him to prison for the rest of his despicable life. But we know that he is not sui generis among his colleagues, among his peers. When they were old, we used to call them dirty old men. When they were young, we used to shrug and say, “boys will be boys”. Now we call them Masters of the Universe – we call them, Mr. President.
I do wonder when we will sober up. And I wonder whether this Epstein set is only another circle in our very disturbing and rapidly expanding Venn diagram of Trumpworld, or whether our very disturbing and rapidly expanding Venn diagram actually sits within it?
Deborah Long is a Principal at Development Management Group, Inc. and founder of several non-profit charitable organizations. If you find her perspectives interesting, provocative, or controversial, follow her at: https://www.facebook.com/debby.long.98499?ref=br_rs
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