The U.S. and the coddling of Donald Trump

Is this really the time to "humor" Trump by allowing him slowly to come to terms with reality — like a little boy?

By Terri Langston
November 17, 2020 11:35AM (UTC)
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US President Donald Trump speaks during a "Keep America Great" campaign rally at the SNHU Arena in Manchester, New Hampshire, on August 15, 2019. (Getty/Nicholas Kamm)

This article originally appeared on The Globalist.

Those who have created nothing of lasting value always want to portray themselves as victims.

— Bernhard Schlink, German novelist and the author of the international bestseller "The Reader," in his latest book "Colors of Departure."

Everything is always about him. The role of the electorate is just to admire him and to bask in his glory. 

Donald Trump's supporters should become familiar with the ancient myth of Narcissus. It tells us that "he disdained those who loved him."

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What irks women around the United States almost two weeks after the 2020 election is the grotesque coddling of the ego of the President of the United States. Can't he simply man up and acknowledge his defeat at the ballot box?

Lock her up — and coddle him?

After all, that's what Hillary Clinton did in 2016 after a hard-fought election. And even though she had manned up, the Republican — largely male — chorus bizarrely continued chanting: "Lock her up."

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Now, it's not new that Donald Trump is a big-time narcissist and that his inner childishness seems to know no limits. The Donald increasingly appears like a child who has just been told that there is no Santa Claus, but refuses to take in the news. 

So far, so Trump. But here is the big question: Why do the other leading men in the Republican Party, with very few exceptions, not only keep coddling Mr. Trump, but also have the audacity to force the entire nation to do so?

The following "rhetorical shrug" was reported in the Washington Post from an "anonymous senior Republican official" when asked about the baseless claims and legal proceedings being pushed by the President and his legal team: 

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What is the downside for humoring him for this little bit of time? No one seriously thinks the results will change," the official said. "He went golfing this weekend. It's not like he's plotting how to prevent Joe Biden from taking power on January 20. He's tweeting about filing some lawsuits, those lawsuits will fail, then he'll tweet some more about how the election was stolen, and then he'll leave.

Republicans' extreme double standards

Did any Republican call for slathering Al Gore's ego when his bid was injudiciously taken away from him by the U.S. Supreme Court in December 2000? 

How about John McCain, Mitt Romney, George H.W. Bush or Jimmy Carter, for that matter? Like Hillary Clinton, they all bit into the very sour apple of publicly admitting defeat in a dignified form and conceding the election to the winner. 

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Clinging to a bygone role model

Donald Trump's main promise has always been to provide a protective harbor against the often rather brutal pressures of modernity. 

Many of the 70 million Americans who voted for him, men and women alike, are attracted by his offer to stick to the 1950s version of the gender role model, the father as the breadwinner, the mother the housewife (in a United States that was really not so "great" for very many). 

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This is of particular appeal to the rather large segment of many American men who feel that their own status as "the decider" in the household has been greatly diminished. 

Of bullies and cowards

Many of these men ascribe to the Republican Party and its philosophy. They worship at the altar of the "Greatest Generation" that fought the last "good" war, World War II. 

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Many of them tote guns around — the ultimate sign of their insecurity. They love to talk big. One sees them on TV, in the news, at gun shows, at demonstrations and at Fourth of July parades. 

Of course, one hardly ever sees the same fellows sign up for risky business such as military service or as FBI or Secret Service agents. To them, it's all about show biz, just as with their esteemed leader Donald Trump. 

They are bullies and cowards at the same time. Why is this so? Because bullies ARE cowards.

Afraid of women

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And they are afraid of women, which is part of their cowardice. Particularly intelligent and accomplished women like Hillary Clinton. 

Whatever her — no doubt, considerable — flaws as a candidate, the fear of being governed by an intelligent and accomplished woman was perceived by many men as the ultimate letdown. 

And she was dissed, too, by a stunning number of women, who saw her as an uncomfortable reminder that they themselves prefer a comfortable backseat, which is fine. What is not fine is their resentment for a woman who tried to do great things.

Donald Trump's particular political ability lies, first, in his ability to play to those sentiments perfectly. And, second, to exploit these emotions to the fullest degree for his own political positioning. 

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What Was Needed: A good ole American Joe

Given their experience in 2016, Democrats calculated that this time around, it had to be a good ole white guy to attract a sufficient number of swing voters. That calculation proved prescient.

Heaven bless Joe Biden — he is a man for his time and he cannot be blamed for living in a culture where it seems extra-hard, compared to most other countries, to have a woman in the job of President. The U.S. major "allies" in this retrograde regard are, curiously enough, Communist China and Russia.

Women as wolves?

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It is instructive in this context to realize the lingering relevance of Edward Albee's 1962 play "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" Its topic was the hollowness of the 1950s role assignments for men and women as husband and wife. 

That — and how — those themes resonate to this very day becomes even clearer if one remembers that the play's title was a pun on a song from Walt Disney's 1933 "Three Little Pigs" cartoon. Its theme song, "Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?"

Albee substituted the words "Big Bad Wolf" with the name of the renowned English author Virginia Woolf. Woolf had a truly independent intellect — and for that, in her day, she became a hot target of male disdain, i.e., insecurity. 

Just as did Hillary Rodham Clinton as well as other female leaders in the United States and abroad between 1992 and 2020.

Lawyers as coddlers?

It is a longstanding tradition in the United States to spend a great deal of money to pay lawyers to bring specious law suits. As they unfortunately say in our country, the possession of a lawyer is nine-tenths of the law. 

Because so many of them have a price, it is not hard to find lawyers to bring immoral, specious or irresponsible lawsuits anytime, like the suits currently being brought by the Trump campaign and the Republican Party in various U.S. states to claim fraudulent elections. 

It is clear to most clear-thinking Republicans that these suits are specious. But when it comes to the Presidency — they pile on! As the Republican Party official cited at the top of this essay stated: "What is the downside for humoring him for this little bit of time?"

Democracy and coddling

"Humoring him" implies that, by delaying the acknowledgment of defeat, Mr. Trump is not doing any harm. But by delaying the transition process, he is exactly doing that. 

Just remember 9/11 and the very slow start of the George W. Bush administration in 2001.

Trump and his enablers are also dangerously coddling their base to convince them that their votes did not count, generally sowing distrust in democratic practices and specifically targeting the upcoming Georgia elections for two United States Senate seats. 

Where is the courage to speak out?

The courage to speak truths has failed lately — especially among Republicans. And the failure to speak honestly about this election is really neither rocket science nor is it a tough legal problem. 

It is a matter of abiding by the existing rules, respecting the institutions of the land as well as long-established rules of democratic conduct. 

It is disheartening to see that so many Republicans evidently don't care about the system at all, except when it works for them. Then they like it and defend it sternly. (Witness, most recently, the Supreme Court nomination of Amy Coney Barrett).

But when the democratic system doesn't produce the results they want, they have no hesitation to go great lengths to sabotage it. 

Motherhood as a political art

Any woman who has raised a son and brought him through American schools, Little League, high school sports and all the rest, knows about the prevalent practice of coddling men. Surely, there are times to cut them a break.

But any mother also knows that it is at least as important to stop the coddling — lest they want to keep their child from becoming a man. 

That's the moment when they need to say, "Stop this — it is above all harmful to you. Never mind that you are hurting those who supported you along the way. Think about the big picture — and beyond just yourself."

Trump and motherhood

The entire world knows by now that Donald Trump, in effect, grew up in a motherless household. He never had the privilege of hearing that advice. 

But 70 years later, that cannot seriously mean that the United States as a nation is held at the mercy of Trump's de facto motherless childhood. 

The latter fact may explain why the misogynist-in-chief is so intent on and is able to rev up his base. It, too, doesn't want Santa Claus to be history. 

In their joint act of being wedded to disillusion, they obsess about being disenfranchised by the electoral system and outcast by the political system — when in reality they just lost. 

That pact is tearing at the threads of U.S. democracy, pure and simple. 

Growing up at age 74

One has to be a legitimate loser sometimes. After the 2020 election, Trump is truly that which he never wanted to be — an outright loser. 

Donald Trump simply cannot accept legitimate loss. But this time, no lawyer can help.

Yet, that so many senior-level U.S. politicians — all those Republican senators and Congressmen, all those amazingly spineless men in Washington — are so eager to "humor" their leading man speaks to one of the greatest weaknesses of the country — courage and character among the men of the Republican Party. 

Seamus Heaney's message to Republican men

Guys, you need to look honestly at and evaluate your actions. As the Irish poet Seamus Heaney so pointedly wrote, 

To stare, big-eyed Narcissus, into some spring
is beneath all adult dignity.


Terri Langston

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