After his third press conference on Charlottesville, the near-universal conclusion is that President Donald Trump is a racist.
There’s a moral awakening taking place across America, but President Trump is still hiding under his blanket.
The racists’ march in Charlottesville, Va., on Saturday, a protest against the planned removal of a statue of the Confederate general Robert E. Lee, presented Mr. Trump with the most glaring opportunity yet to separate himself decisively from the white supremacists and neo-Nazis who have cheered him on since he announced his candidacy, and to make clear that America has no room for what they stand for. He blew it. After the marchers turned to violence, and one of them plowed a car into a group of counterprotesters, injuring at least 19 and killing a woman named Heather Heyer, Mr. Trump said only that he rejected violence “on many sides.”
Trump also said there were “fine people” on both sides, as if there could be some fathomable aspect of being the “fine” sort of white nationalist. As commentator after commentator from both left and right opined on the tube, Trump has now shown what he really believes.
But what if that’s a completely wrong assumption, a projection of morality of the people who have beliefs, even if they differ, on a person who has none. Over grilled steak the other night, I spoke with a few people who are in the CEO class, who had done business with Trump over the years, who have serious issues with the Democrats and Hillary, and who, to a person, thought Trump a blithering idiot and a disgrace.
But they did not believe that Trump was immoral. They believed he was amoral.
What if there was only two things that drove Trump: self-aggrandizement and self-enrichment? What if he’s not racist, not because he’s against racism but because he has no moral compass to steer him toward or away from racism.
For people who have any sense of morality at all, it seems almost impossible for any person to be amoral, to simply feel nothing about morality and be truly sociopathic. The people who knew him, did business with him (or at least tried to, as a recurring theme was that he was so utterly lacking in integrity that neither handshakes nor contracts constrained his actions). His word meant nothing. Not to him.
So what was this tone deaf, impossibly stupid noise that was emitting from his yap? Others more qualified to explain pathologies have, and will, provide better explanations, but consider that the narcissist believes his golden tongue can somehow talk his way through the middle of a situation so that he can walk away making everybody happy, feigning concern for the bereaved without alienating perhaps the only group who has anything nice to say about him?
Like most insipid thinkers, Trump assumes others parse information like he does. If it works for him, it must work for you. And if it doesn’t, then it’s because you are wrong, you don’t “get it” like he does, further entrenching him in his own bizarre narrative. The depth of his compensation for his Impostor Syndrome precludes his ability to recognize that his mad rhetorical skillz didn’t cut it. After all, he got himself elected president spewing empty nonsense and attacks. He must be smarter than everyone else.
Among the wealthy, Trump was considered a vulgar boor, unwelcome in polite society. Mar-a-Lago is a monument to his effort to buy his way into Palm Beach society, reflecting his utter lack of grasp that one can’t buy one’s way into acceptance. He was the quintessential nouveau riche, ostentatious and tasteless. Trump was the guy who thought gold toilets showed class. He could impress others of his ilk, but he would never be accepted by the wealthy. Becoming president would show them.
Around the table the other night, there was no doubt in anyone’s mind that Trump’s refusal to reveal his tax returns had nothing to do with Russian collusion, even though it was certainly possible that there would be evidence to that effect. What drove Trump was the fear that he would be revealed as a phony, not a billionaire at all.
It wasn’t that Trump didn’t have money, particularly as compared to the groundlings, but in the realm of the wealthy, that “b” was a critical distinction. And to Trump, pretending to have that “b” was what made him appear to matter. Without it, he would be revealed to all as the impostor he knew he was. As for the misguided groundlings who conflated his wealth with a broader intelligence that would enable him to change government, even they would laugh at the hidden child who feared being outed as a nobody.
Perhaps we’ve given Trump far more credit than he’s due by imputing immorality to his incapacity to condemn white nationalism and racism. That would require him to hold a belief, wrong as it may be, about an issue of substance. Perhaps he holds nothing dear except himself.
What’s worse than immoral is amoral, no sense of right or wrong at all.