As part of his response to the latest terrorist attack in New York that killed eight people and wounded a dozen more, President Trump said that the U.S. justice system is a “laughingstock.”
I don’t know about you, but I’ve lost count of the number of times Trump has said that the world is laughing at the U.S. or otherwise considers our system of government or justice or fill-in-the-blank a joke.
When he is not regurgitating carefully scripted responses to various incidents or as part of choreographed official duties, when he is speaking off the cuff—when he’s just being himself, Trump often defaults to this theme.
When I heard him say it again following the tragedy in New York, it occurred to me that before Trump launched his ultimately—and unfortunately—successful campaign for the presidency (aka The Good Old—Even When They Were Bad—Days), I had never thought of the world as laughing at the U.S. Or thinking that we’re a joke.
Sure, I’ve always known there are people in the world who don’t like us, or don’t like the “ugly American” tourist abroad, or are tired of our arrogance or hubris. And I’ve always known that we have enemies who would love to see us destroyed or at the very least, knocked down a peg or two.
Some of that sentiment is deserved, some isn’t, and some is part and parcel of being the biggest and strongest guy on the block, the one who wields the biggest stick.
But laughing at us? The thought never occurred to me BT (before Trump).
I’m not a psychiatrist, psychologist, or other mental health practitioner. But I have a decent-enough mind and I’m fairly perceptive, so I can only conclude that Trump’s obsession with the U.S. as the world’s laughingstock is a picture window into how he perceives the world sees him.
To me, it’s clear that he thinks people are always laughing at him and see him as a walking joke, a laughingstock. It’s also clear that he’s felt like a this for a long, long time. Maybe most of his life.
He reminds me of my now-grown nephew who long ago, when he was only about four years old, ran to my sister one time, crying, “She’s laughin’ at me, mom, she’s laughin’ at me,” when I chuckled at one of his innocent malaprops and he mistakenly thought I was making fun of him.
But before my nephew ran to his mother for protection, he reflexively balled his little hand into a fist and punched me, fighting back and getting even in the only way he knew how.
When Trump says the world is laughing at the U.S., when he counter-punches by calling people names or seemingly advocating a violent response, when he gets down and dirty, he’s fighting back against the perpetual avalanche of laughter and derision he feels is directed at him and, by extension (according to his immature, narcissistic mind), the U.S.
The problem is that Trump’s too old to run to his mother for protection and bury his head in her lap. My fear is that he’ll eventually feel so overwhelmed and cornered by the world that he’ll really get even.
He’ll show everybody and throw the nuclear football.
And I’m afraid.