Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Questions for Trump (and, God Knows, Other Big Shots): Follow-Up for Radically Unanswered Questions

I think I have a technique for dealing with Donald Trump (and, God knows, others) when they utter words in response to a question — "in response" in the sense that the question was a stimulus and the words they produced a response — but not a response in the sense of answering or otherwise dealing with the question.
      First occasion, that interview: "Mr. Trump {or other person}, it's okay to decline to answer a question or tell me I asked it poorly and rephrase it for me. Now ..." and here the interviewer or moderator briefly restates the question.
      Second occasion:
           (in a sincerely concerned voice) "Mr. Trump, are you all right?"
            TRUMP (or other of his ilk): "What do you mean 'Are you all right?!' Why are you asking me, "Are you all right?!!"
             "Well, this is the second time I asked you a question and you answered another question, or just went off on some tangent. This isn't my area, but you could suffering from what's called 'dissociated utterance,' and it can be a symptom of serious problems. So if you don't want to answer the question or don't have an answer now, I'll move on. If you can't answer the question for some neurological reason ...."

And here Trump blows up and/or stomps off, and reporters and others search the web and find that the full old shrink cliché was "dissociated schizophrenic utterances."

Now it's far less likely that Trump is schizo than that he is, as Jeet Heer has asserted, "a bullshit artist," except he's not especially artistic at it. He's a very rich person and a celebrity, who grew up rich, and probably hasn't had to experience a lot of people telling him that if he really thinks he's responded to their questions. Anyway nowadays  he's either started to believe his own B.S., or he's got deeper problems. Or both: If I found myself losing my moorings in reality, I'd definitely fall back upon my own talents in the bullshit line.

Anyway, it will probably do no good to point out the contempt implicit in bullshitting people in serious public venues. Suggesting that macho, Big D, big hands Donald Trump, who prides himself on telling it like it is sounds like he has a mental illness where he can't speak straight, a disorder for which he should be pitied — now that might get him responding to questions seriously. Minimally, it should give our (post)modern practitioners of Yellow Journalism a juicy topic: just which mental problems should we infer from Trump's use of language (and that of Sarah Palin and others)? And should borderline __________ (whatever) disqualify someone from the presidency?

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