“Allow me to introducing myself. I am Boris Badenov, world’s greatest no-goodnik.” – The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show
Is Donald Trump mad, or are we just watching him lose his mind? He is neither an intelligent man nor a nuanced thinker. He’s not a brooding soul burdened by introspection. Increasingly, he looks to be some form of antediluvian caveman; a creature who, sooner or later, will be taken down by the next silverback in line. But, like it or not, we are deeply engaged in this spectacle: a drama that is half Hermann Hesse’s, Steppenwolf – a story of a man whose psyche is split between his human half and his wolf-like urges – and half high-intensity Mud Bogging.
I think the Steppenwolf aspect of Trump’s presidency will be the one that endures in history because we all intuitively understand man’s struggle with his own inner wolf, with his own need for individuality that must survive within the confines of civilization. His base of howling-at-the-moon Libertarians tends to support this theory. Hermann Hesse’s Steppenwolf hated the bourgeois life of ordinariness. He wrote: “For what I always hated and detested and cursed above all things was this contentment, this healthiness and comfort, this carefully preserved optimism of the middle classes, this fat and prosperous brood of mediocrity.”
But Trump’s very entrance into presidential politics signaled nothing short of the death of satire. As he and his Pygmalion consort glided into camera view on the descending ramp of a golden escalator, the crassness of it was a poke in the eye – a one-fingered salute to the lotus eaters of American life; to the feigned piety of the establishment; and to the writers of Saturday Night Live. And we waited for the punchline and laughed until it wasn’t funny anymore. We laughed until we suspected that we were the punchline. Now we observe with fascination Trump’s daily tweets, where norms that ensure stability are brought down upon us with the fantasized strength of a strangely coiffed Samson. A Samson, either infused with the spirit of God, or one who is far too easily caught up in the infantile lunacy of Mike Pence and Mother. But whether Trump’s God Delusion represents the ravings of a psychotic mind, or the snarling of a caged animal, he is showing signs of mental deterioration. His new found embrace of personal divinity demonstrates an inability to distinguish between religion as a political tactic and religiosity as pathology.
When I first contemplated the villainy of Donald Trump and his artless dabbling in the national politics of the world’s most terrifying hellhounds, I was struck by his comical resemblance to the Boris Badenov of my youth. Badenov is literally a cartoon character, an inept spy who reports to “The Fearless Leader” in Pottsylvania, a fictional eastern European nation of the Cold War, a city where its highest national honor is the Double Cross. He is always accompanied by his partner in crime, the sexy, Natasha Fatale. Badenov’s Wikipedia page cites remarkable similarities between the two men: Badenov’s favorite book is an anthology of fiendish plans entitled The Fireside Crook Book (sort of like the “Mein Kampf for Dummies” Trump kept on his nightstand), as well as his membership in the Van Gogh Society, a Pottsylvanian club whose members collect human ears.
Badenov or not, I am continually struck by the oddity of Trump’s showmanship villainy. Of his hairsprayed mane, which must sit somewhere on the spectrum between the hairdos of Wayne Cochran and Gorgeous George. His boasts are plagiarized impersonations of Hitler straight out of the Actors Studio of Mel Brooks.
Historians will examine the psychology of this man and debate the predictive value of a fatherly role model who was also a virulent white supremacist; a teen with impulse control issues so disruptive that he required a tour of duty in a military school; and the simple strangeness of his fears of “unfairness” meted out to him by establishment bullies within his own party. We saw him display expert extortion skills during the 2016 nomination as he threatened the reluctant GOP with a third-party run, and we simultaneously heard the whining of a prepubescent boy afraid of conspiracies against him. Warning signs from a man-child who feared having sand kicked in his face while reveling in the role of alpha sand-kicker.
Trump’s psychopathology has delivered us nothing but chaos emanating from his lack of impulse control, his deep and abiding sense of victimhood, and his need to be the biggest, baddest wolf of them all. He has delivered us an orgy of theft with his policies on healthcare, immigration, abortion, and gun control. His is a theft of our dignity, our decency, our personal autonomy, and our safety.
The Boris Badenov of my youth would usually greet a new acquaintance by saying, “Allow me to introducing myself. I am Boris Badenov, world’s greatest no-goodnik.” Badenov’s name was a pun on the name of the 16th-century Russian Tsar, Boris Godunov, upon whose death Russia descended into The Time of Troubles – into chaos and decline.
So, as Donald heads to the G-7 to discuss with heads of state the solutions to the global crises unfolding before our very eyes, will he, once again, deliver his trademarked one-finger salute, his wolfish sneer, or will his new found psychotic religiosity seal his legacy as a lunatic howling at the moon?
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
image: wikimedia commons, Dominick Reuter