Do You Wish Philip K. Dick Was Still Around To Write About Señor Trumpanzee? So Does Alan Grayson
Robert Reich's video about the 7 signs of tyranny appears to be tailor-made to explain the first six months of Trumpism. Newsweek ran an OpEd by Reich putting it into some kind of context this week:
It seems an eternity ago but it was only last Tuesday night when Donald Trump addressed a joint session of Congress and stuck to the teleprompter without going off the deep end-- eliciting rapturous praise from the media.Reich used the word "conman" to describe Trump. Alan Grayson likened him to "a crap artist," namely a Philip K. Dick character, in an e-mail to his supporters yesterday.
“Donald Trump at his most presidential,“gushed NBC; “a recitation of hopes and dreams for the nation,” oozed NPR; “the most presidential speech Mr. Trump has ever given-- delivered at precisely the moment he needed to project sobriety, seriousness of purpose and self-discipline,” raved the New York Times; “he did something tonight that you cannot take away from him. He became president of the United States,” rhapsodized CNN’s Van Jones.
The bar was so low that all Trump needed to do was not sound nuts and he was “presidential.”
But that all ended Saturday morning when the old Trump-- the “birther,” the hatemonger, the thin-skinned paranoid, the liar, the reckless ranter, the vindictive narcissist, the whack-o conman-- reemerged in a series of unprecedented and unverified accusations about his predecessor.
In truth, the old Trump was there all along, and he will always be there. He’s unhinged and dangerous. The sooner congressional Republicans accept this, and take action to remove him-- whether through impeachment or the 25th Amendment-- the better for all of us.
Does Donald Trump actually believe all the stupid things he says?
My favorite author is Philip K. Dick, and I think that Dick can shed some light on this. Lots of Dick’s work has been made into science fiction blockbuster movies:
Blade Runner, Total Recall, Screamers, Impostor, Minority Report, Paycheck, A Scanner Darkly, Next, and Radio Free Albemuth.
Philip Dick’s Man in the High Castle is Amazon’s most popular original show, and Hollywood is putting the finishing touches on Blade Runner 2049, the Blade Runner sequel.
Philip Dick also wrote lots of “straight” fiction, not science fiction. It was not well-received. Every single one of Dick’s “straight” novels was rejected for publication during his lifetime, except one. The only one that saw the light of day while Dick himself saw the light of day was called Confessions of a Crap Artist.
Jack Isidore, the soi-disant crap artist in Confessions of a Crap Artist, actually isn’t such a bad person. He simply is incapable of distinguishing between fact and fiction. His BS meter is permanently broken. He doesn’t know what passes the smell test; he has no nose for it. He wasn’t born yesterday, he was born like an hour ago. Think of him as Captain Credulity.
Because he is the way he is, there is a very good chance that whatever Jack Isidore tells you is wrong. And everyone in his life knows it.
The saddest thing is that Jack himself has no idea that he’s such a fool. He believes whatever is coming out of his mouth, true or false. Even though no one else does. Everyone else in his life has to wrestle with the truth, but Jack is blissfully excused from that burden.
Is he a liar? Not exactly. The French have a term for someone like this: barjo. In fact, the one Dick novel deemed worthy of being made into a French film was this one, entitled Confessions d’un Barjo.
Philip Dick foresaw that we might one day have a simulacrum as President (The Mold of Yancy, The Penultimate Truth), but he failed to predict that we would have a crap artist as President.
With Jack Isidore in mind, I don’t think that you can depict “President” Trump as the proverbial turd-in-the-punchbowl like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Bill O’Reilly, who force-fed nonsense to Trump (and millions of other marks) for decades, like geese soon to be pate de fois gras. Look at O’Reilly when he’s conveying some huge whopper. He has a “tell.” A little smile plays over his lips. He knows when he’s flinging cow pies at you.
And Trump? Maybe not. This is a man whose first political act was to take out a full-page ad in the New York Daily News demanding the execution of the “Central Park Five,” five men charged with the assault and rape of a Central Park jogger, all of whom were completely exonerated when the real attacker confessed and his DNA matched what was found at the crime scene. (Note to Donald: the Constitution prohibits the death penalty for all crimes other than first-degree murder and treason, but that’s beside the point. The point is that you fell for it.)
Remember that Trump first came to national political attention by arguing incessantly (and hiring investigators to try to prove) that President Obama was born in Kenya, and therefore ineligible to be President. As if those two different birth announcements in Honolulu newspapers as well as Daddy Obama’s contemporaneous immigration file (not to mention the Obama birth certificate), meant nothing. [Footnote: One of my relatives, a Fox News addict, recently tried to convince me that Obama was born in Kenya. I mentioned the birth announcements. With not even a hint of irony, she warned me, “don’t believe everything you hear.”]
So, does it come as any surprise that since the election, Trump claimed to have won the biggest Presidential landslide in recent history? (As Trump would say, “WRONG!”) That the turnout for his inauguration was the largest ever? WRONG! That the US murder rate is the highest that it’s been in 47 years? WRONG! That there was a recent fatal terrorist attack in Sweden? WRONG! That President Obama tapped Trump’s phones? WRONG!
Yet these are all things that Philip Dick’s Jack Isidore would have said-- and would have believed.
It’s remarkable that someone so dupable (is that a word?) could function successfully in business. On the other hand, Trump’s companies did go bankrupt four times, so Trump’s lenders must have been pretty dupable, too.
It’s a question that comes up again and again when you try to judge some malignant political figure: Is he evil, or just stupid?
Maybe it just doesn’t matter that much. Maybe it’s just as bad to have a fool in a position of power as it is to have a liar. Time will tell.
Either way, unless we can figure out a way to send the Prevaricator-in-Chief back to Mar-a-Lago more quickly, there will be lots of mistakes to be made in the next four years. Think of the Trump Administration as the “Reign of Error."