Insofar as it possible to overlay some reasonable gestalt on the psyche of Donald Trump, and why he caters to Vladimir Putin, so that we might begin to comprehend how to convince our generals and nearly catatonic Veep to unseat him should Congress be too cowardly to impeach, we must pluck at nearly any given phantom thread to make a beginning. According to the brilliant Malcolm Nance and perceptive Rob Reiner’s new book, The Plot to Destroy Democracy: How Putin and His Spies Are Undermining America and Dismantling the West, Trump’s fascination with Putin as a fellow transactional nativist/nationalist utterly aware of the power of money, and his ambition that there should be a Trump Tower on the Moscow skyline seduced him long ago. But the worship has been one-sided, writes David Remnik in The New Yorker, in a prophetic 2016 primer-taut and deft exegesis of the post-Soviet forces that have brought these two men to the eve of an improbable Summit.
Remnick writes that despite Trump’s claims to be a longtime associate of Putin’s, this was not the case. We know now that Trump may be far worse than a seducee of Putin’s who has aligned his world view with his. For his part, Putin’s hatred of the US is nothing if not profound. He was not only ashamed of what he perceived to be the appeasements of Gorbachev and Yeltsin vis a vis the US, but after the toppling of ally and friend Gadaffi and his regime, particularly regarding the brutality of the latter’s death, he viewed democracy and in particular Hillary Clinton, who supported the Libyan dictator’s overthrow, as consummate threats.
The significance of Putin’s hatred of Clinton and his weaponizing of Donald Trump contribute to one’s realization that having been able to put Trump in the White House has surely been a satisfying ongoing act of revenge for Putin, together with the failure of the “Russian reset” from typo to collapse of amicability, hopes of a lasting accord with Russia fading up to the 2016 election. By then, Russian animus had returned. The cultural and historical context for the rise of Trump in that it is inextricably bound up with Putin’s spreading reach, was in place.
The stage was thus tongue and grooved into place for the emergence of a person so afflicted with monstrous qualities, so instinct-driven and narcissistic as to warrant comparison with those mythical characters who sprout teeth and hair by full-moonlight, in measured jest perhaps, but also because Trump is a force as destructively perverse and antithetical to the American sensibility as any rapacious and blood-thirsty thing we hold in Jung’s collective unconscious.
Certainly dictators become larger than life with every monstrous deed, until those people living with such a person live in demoralizing fear for their very lives. Putin has controlled Russia with fear for decades. Enter Trump, classic worshipper of this subhuman man, for whom terror seems to have a nearly erotic edge. Imagine the exquisite angst for Trump of the golden shower tape seeing the light of day.
A monster’s function, a monstrous human being’s function, is not only to terrify and terrorize, but in a manner that is without conscience, profane, “Other,” arousing fear and loathing. Physically Trump makes one thinks of the Hunchback of Notre Dame. The physical qualities of monsterhood are not nearly as significant as the capacity of one to behave in disregard of anyone or anything in its path, in a manner that is either based in the survival instinct, or in those creatures seen to possess a consciousness, as evil incarnate, of diabolical purposed will. Think of the presence of evil in the psyche as being of a base and debased nature that leaves us destabilized individually and as a people. Certainly there are no natural monsters as in those creatures exclusively of “nature.” But there are in terms of those who have been in the world as perversions of human will.
It is fair to conclude that there are monstrous qualities in Putin and what he desires in his recruits–those whose goal has become to subvert democracy itself. Again, Remnick writes that after the fall of the Soviet Union, Putin was rising through the ranks of the KGB all too aware of the weak machinations of Gorbachev and Yeltsin. He longed for Mother Russia, the glorious Russia that reveled in empire-building, spilled blood, the annexation of border countries.
Upon Trump’s limited intellect, his childlike perception of history, his oversimplification of the world together with a history of at the very least an obliviousness to the needs of others that fits with his contempt for those dependent upon alliances, the formidable interrogator capitalized, noting to his confidantes that Trump was nothing if not a “useful fool.” When Trump brought the Miss America Pageant to Russia in 2013, Putin merely remarked that Russian women were far more beautiful, putting him in his place with a single precision-sting worthy of the manta ray taking out Steve Irwin. Whatever in Trump seeks the approval of a dictator unconstrained by the rule of law was thwarted then; yet, in the way of a boy returning to the feet of an abusive father, he has been living to please and appease him ever since.
Malleable to Putin’s reshaping, ripe for conversion, Donald Trump has been an outsider trying desperately to get in, looking even now, even as President, through his prism of prior opulence, made possible by laundering money for the oligarchs, at “the American elites,” as he and his base describe them. The other night he said from the podium,”I don’t know why I’m not an elite. I’ve got more money, a nicer apartment, I’m President—” there again was in that pathos a rare glimpse of an alienated boy who could never please his white supremacist slumlord father– but to many of us, the glimmer of a lifelong grudge that undergirds Trump’s personality and is so close to the surface it is readily capitalized upon, of the repressed rage of the outsider. This is what pulls Trump into Putin’s orbit and for our purposes, is fundamental to his metamorphosis, his own turn toward a level of cruelty and inhumanity we first experience as a dark force in tenuous check in our early awareness of his white supremacist leanings.
I find one of the most fascinating monsters of all time the Frankenstein conceived of and played by Kenneth Branagh. In this riveting and terrifying film, De Niro does a masterfully painful job of portraying someone who is arbitrarily rendered a loner, a patched together person aware that he has no place in the very society of his creation, an aristocracy from which Dr. Frankenstein comes, his own brilliance as a doctor perverted by how his physician father, in freeing his younger brother from his mother’s womb, puts her to death: in the younger doctor’s anguish he is driven to create life.
Frankenstein emerges from a chemical bath into life instantaneously recognizing himself as a monster trapped between worlds of whom there is only one. In rage-filled loneliness he kills the young boy who is the treasure of his Austrian family when the child ventures into the woods, and he demands that the ever more terrified good doctor make him a bride. He kidnaps Frankenstein’s own bride on his wedding night, and submerges her in the same stew, but when she emerges as a monstrosity herself, she breaks a lantern over her head, self-immolating, refusing the option.
Frankenstein has absolutely no concern over having murdered a child. The murder is in fact a calling card of the absolute power he will exert, ultimately, over everyone. Is this not also the Trump who has inflicted anguish on babies, on toddlers?
Vladimir Putin has succeeded in cloning a far less brilliant version of himself in Donald Trump. His greatest success in giving birth to his recruit, is to inculcate in him an abject ruthlessness, a skewed us versus them mentality but a deadly one in which Trump’s paranoid weltanschauung via orders to Justice and from Justice to Homeland Security and from thence to ICE, is not only happy to murder one child, but to date several thousand by first traumatizing the youngest babies–mere toddlers– by severing them from the mother and then lobotomizing them with psychotropic drugs like Haldol. He has conceived of a novel way to do this, with the help of his “judefreude,” his happy little collaborating Jew, Stephen Miller.
Out of conscienceless barbarism we can fairly call monstrous, a kind of monstrousness we must not lose sight of, publicly stating that immigrants have “infesmpted” the country with criminals, that they indiscriminately breed, he has stolen their children, utterly circumventing the U.S. Constitution, abrogating the rule of law. Trump says that he does this as a deterrent, as if this is some kind of legitimacy. The babies and younger children who cannot self-advocate before a judge, separated from their asylum-seeking parents, have been forced into court. Before we knew about it to disrupt it, thousands of children were dispersed to DHS-hired facilities and it appears, from thence into foster homes and ultimately, into the arms of childless Americans.
Underlying the commission of these atrocities which shock the conscience and brought millions of people into the street this past weekend, is the enraged monster born into a world that from the monster’s viewpoint, one imagines, arbitrarily despises him. Wait until his visit to England this month; a giant Trumpian baby will float above Parliament and rumors abound on Facebook that the Brits are conserving their urine to throw at Trump’s motorcade. It would not be surprising if Trump were to cancel the trip in a fit of pique, far preferable to the rage with which he would return after a meeting with the English.
In any event, it would seem that we have in Donald Trump we have someone whose desperation is not unlike the DeNiro portrayal, whose lifetime of not-belonging in Manhattan where he made love to the city with money, unable to buy inclusion and gravitas with it, no matter how much marble he into put into his stairways, how much gold leaf wallpaper graces the hallways and apartments in Trump Tower, indubitably exacerbated his bitterness.
One imagines that Putin saw all of these things about Trump and began to make him anew, pulling back the curtain on his illimitable power, persuading him that he too by drawing on an innate ruthlessness, a blind ambition, could have some kind of importance in the world. He showed him, by accounts and educated guesses, what standing he might have: how he in rubbing shoulders with oligarchs, the Russian elites, he had something to offer them; he could launder their money. Overt pageantry fell away; instead, the Trump Organization was born, utterly dependent, according to the challenged Don Jr., on Russian money, followed by the reality show The Apprentice. Trump for a time, was a star, his real estate empire burgeoning.
Trump’s lack of empathy for those he dissed on his show was palpable. Much like Roseann, from beginning to end, he was repulsively, crassly compelling.
In Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein a monster arises from a chemical bath, heart missing– a monster more driven than the most terrifying alien confronted by Ripley in that brilliant Cameron film trilogy beginning in a revolutionary hyper-realistic sci fi wherein the normal world collides with a monolithic and terrifying force of nature nothing can appease. Such is the demeanor of a Donald Trump driven by a lust for power. Circa the early mid 2000’s Putin’s attention had gone to Trump’s head: he became addicted to the sordid and intractable kind of power dictators accrue unto themselves; a casualty of his training was any identification with others’ suffering, heinously, not even that of small children.
One speculates that his boyhood Caulfieldian alienation gave way to something more terrifying also omitted in Russia’s Frankenstein, a soul. A conscience. The compassionate impulse. Empathy. Tolerance. The globalist perspective of a unified and forward-looking world, with a future, funded with a love for the planet, for God, the universe and everything in it.
Putin’s calculus may be said to have begun to pay off, his mentorship more Darth Vader than Sir Alec Guiness,’ Obi Wan… far afield of nobility. For again, to be Darth Vader, or even the less melodramatic villain Salieri, one must be afflicted with ambition and an appetite for power to the extent that the Other becomes immaterial, either a “useful fool” or an obstacle to be eliminated with a burst of sub-machine gun fire.
Evil incarnate is something we can continue to describe as someone devoid of the connective tissue for community and global affiliation- one’s very humanity, into something so warped it only shares lungs and a skeleton with the rest of the world. Imagine Hitler’s lieutenants, the crossing from fidelity to the Fuhrer into the implacability endemic to the insane. It would be in the job description, would it not, the ability to shoot Jews en masse so that they tumbled into latrine style graves?
That Trump aspires to be like Putin is the only explanation for the aggregate of the behaviors that have brought disaster unto our lives as Americans. Make no mistake, says Nance; he channels him.
So it is that in 2017, the Trumpire Strikes Back, casting its profane pall over Washington, a plague of leaches upon the sacrosanct body of our republic. There is a groundswell of unrest unlike that of the Vietnam era–this one from the hinterlands and others who feel dispossessed, unheard and unseen, those ripe for the charm masking a perpetrator so driven by an insatiable ego and force of will he sucks everyone around him into his whirlwind.
Trump has the ruthlessness of a Gotti, an Al Capone–someone running on blood-letting, instinct, retribution. He has an insult, a splinter in his paw in being owned by Putin, captured, according to the ever more credible Steele dossier, getting a golden shower from Russian whores, so that he has him by fiat and by Kompromat.
We begin to smell his bestial nature through our television screens, how he is with women, how he has ensnared a beautiful Slavic immigrant into a loveless marriage, held hostage with a child. He has spawned two challenged sons who get off on killing rare species in Africa, who reference “the game,” in a chilling and soulless way reminiscent of the short story The Most Dangerous Game in which a human male is the prey.
Donald Trump is a predatory thug who could easily take over DeNiro’s role. He lurches in darkness, trapped n self-obsession. Drenched in angst 24-7, he watches himself on ten televisions.
Given his effort to masquerade as someone fit for office, that most of us see through his veneer, it is clear to Putin that left to his own ham-handed self-revelatory impulsivity, Trump would botch the election. So the Russians get to work and the motley crew Trump has put together over the years is sent all over the world to meet and plan and collude and conspire to impact the vote, to throw the election to one Donald Trump–he who is nothing if not equipped to emerge from the shadows into the waiting arms of the 2nd amendment-obsessed uneducated, the hard-scrabbling and disillusioned working class.
Wolf in sheep’s clothing, his transformation complete, Trump as hybrid traitor does have certain raw talents, of the kind one sees in a criminal mastermind like Hitler.
He has a plan of action, the devious tools of pitting people against each other supplied by Putin in hand; impulse-driven to the core, he seldom seems in any sense, able to see himself, to connect his own behavior with how he is perceived by we who fear and despise him. A cabal of the dispossessed and the deposed is cobbled together with Giuliani riding shotgun. The strategy bears fruit. We learn for example, that Trump and his people have been applying pressure on Chief Justice Kennedy for months to step down so that Trump can weight the Court with those who will say should he be subpoenaed to the Grand Jury by Mueller, that a sitting president is above the law. The new Court can rule that his crimes do not rise to the level of impeachment.
As of the update of this piece on July 7, 2018, whatever uncertainties constrained Trump and limited his imagination earlier are gone. The altruism with which he bombed Syria for gassing babies has left his awareness. The poodles in Congress are trying to tear the AG’s throat out. Poodle Miller conceived of a brilliantly simple and hideous plan to varnish Trump’s hatred of”breeding insects” aka to keep Latin American asylum seekers from crossing the border. A sinister plan has been put into action; to punish immigrants/ “aliens” for daring to cross for sanctuary with their children, by taking those children from their arms.
For this recent crisis alone, ongoing as we speak, speaks volumes about this man. The hallmark of a monster, the level of soul-sickness common to dictators throughout history, is monstrous cruelty as if he cannot hear a single cry or see a tormented face.
While Trump has powerful instincts that are chameleon-like in his ability to switch on the persona of the sincere leader who is being victimized by the press and the Democrats, the “deep state,” velcroing to himself conspiracy theorists, hanger on sycophants like Jim Jordan and company, so that elderly women cry after his rallies, opining, “he just tries so hard;” so that a cult has developed around him of people he refers to as “mine,” it is quite clear that an infant in an abandonment crisis whom staff are forbidden to touch, young boys ripped from their mothers who are injected with Haldol and worse in his internment camps, mean absolutely nothing to him.
This Frankensteinian Chameleonesque Vaderian utterly self-aggrandizing misfit has managed to convince the dregs of our society–forgive me, but it is so– he refers to as his ‘base’– that he is a decent person.
At the beginning of Nazi Germany, Adolf Hitler rose through the ranks with similar instincts. He appealed to demoralized Germans who after World War I had lost Aryan pride. Hitler was initially a messiah to his people, founding a youth corps who could wear the uniform of the state and reclaim a sense of cultural identity. It became a matter of utmost importance to have pure Aryan blood and from that moment whenever it beset the first German soul, the Jews were doomed. Projected upon them were all of the ills and shortcomings Germans could not face in themselves.
Isn’t this the way of persecution of a certain bent and temperament injected with a little power? In what sense is Trump’s so-called immigration policy and his unconscionable, criminal disregard for the fate of children and parents alike not an ethnic cleansing, a purging of self-hate, the disgusting and dark tenor of the corrupt soul.
In what further sense is aligning himself with Kim Jong Un, Vladimir Putin and Duterte, complimenting these living abortions on being “honorable,” on living upside down in the darkest possible inner world like Dracula, not a manifestation of a corrupt ego incapable of empathy or remorse? To define Donald Trump as a monster is figurative, but his penchants and deeds take us there.
On a spiritual level, it can be said that what has happened in our country is the death of gardens, the end of our prelapserian innocence about our democracy and the foolproof nature of our Constitution. How tragically naive have we been!
Idealism is languishing and in danger of extinction. Across the days and hours I with others have been plunged into the darkest grief, and then the darkest rage in which I have jeopardized myself by being pain-crazed, enraged that we have this monster in our midst, who blow by blow is systematically demolishing our way of life but far more– impinging on the American soul, casting a shadow over the American character.
We watch this man mount a skillful campaign against the Mueller investigation, aided by his sycophants in the name of oversight, self-important members of the House who if they had an iota of integrity would support the work of the Special Counsel. These people dare to say that if you are a Democrat you can’t investigate a Republican without partisanship–perhaps because they can’t do this themselves, this cadre of Congressional ne’er do wells led by Devin Nunes.
The self-importance of these men is unbelievable, their agenda transparent, their enabling crossing the boundaries of oversight into obstruction of a legitimate criminal investigation theoretically kept in check with the tradition of protecting it. Not so now, these members of the House, whose heart’s desire is clearly to pave the way for Trump to evade accountability which in turn enables Putin to win.
De Niro’s Frankenstein, his soldered together wife having committed suicide, is alone. He has followed his progenitor to the ends of the earth and soon, he will board his ship and they will drown together, father and monstrous son. Trump is aloft with the helium of his ego. He is completely emboldened to do and say as he pleases. His vice president, who has the tools for removal of an impaired president, as far away as the Constitution’s 25th Amendment, seems to have become a mere apparition without will, wandering the halls of the White House. With every day that we wait on Mueller, more terrible things are unrolled–today, the sanction of industrial waste into streams. The other day, lifting the ban on killing brown bear sows and their cubs.
Are there tears rolling down the faces of the giants of Mt. Rushmore? I think there are.
Who is left? We the people are left. We the people must rise up and demand this monstrously traitorous fool’s impeachment.
We the people must each do what we can do to subvert this presidency. There is no room in a democracy for a monster. There is no room in America for fascism. What at the end of the day, must be done?
History has brought us to the threshold of the imperative to rise up as one against someone out of control being run by Putin and his own storied ambition. It is past time to become deadly serious, to revive everything in our human arsenal to stop this man–by law, if possible, but if not, however we can. We will need to become unstoppable, and brave. Those seduced by Trump, who have elevated him to savior and king, are formidable. But the status quo is, put simply, intolerable;we are at the point the Founders reference in The Bill of Rights as needing to throw off the thrall of the despot, the rogue dictator, the monster that in film we blow off the face of the Earth. We must find those unafraid to arm against those countrymen themselves fascists. We must prepare for the very worst. God help us and grant us courage.
Jenne’ R. Andrews
June 30, 2018