To say that Trump’s tweets on Epstein’s death are demented is to suggest that he’s suffering from a disease. He’s not, and to say so is to dignify his cretinous behavior. This so-called man has been peddling conspiracy theories all his life.
Which is to say he’s been bullshitting, in the technical sense, all his life. As Harry Frankfurt, the expert on the subject, would say, the liar knows the truth and countermands it for a specific purpose, whereas the bullshitter is actually incapable of acknowledging any reality external to his own utterance.
Conspiracy theories thrive on a tragic scheme of motives that, as Kenneth Burke explained, bend toward both the supernatural (vertical) and the utilitarian (horizontal). The inscrutable Gods up there have convened, and so have the international bankers (the Jews, of course) down here–there’s no way to identify them, nor their purposes, but they are so fundamentally causative that their effects are everywhere. The conspiracy theorist has faith in the sense that Paul the Apostle, formerly known as Saul of Tarsus, described it: “the conviction of things unseen.”
Trump the bullshitter has entertained a lot of conspiracy theories in the course of his so-called career, most importantly the “birther” business about Obama, which made him the president of the United States, dedicated to undoing everything his African-American predecessor had accomplished. His political capital, like his real estate empire–go ahead, ask Fred–is predicated on racism. Well, duh.
Still, I have to wonder, once again. How did this profoundly crude and stupid man become the president of the United States? How did his animus toward Obama become a selling point, something to be promoted as an electoral advantage, as against Hillary? OK, racism, sexism, blah, blah.
These categories no longer carry or contain explanatory adequacy, not for me, anyway. There’s something else going on here, some affective surplus, that keeps his approval rating in the 40s. What is it? He’s a buffoon, an oaf, an asshole, and a thief, and everybody knows it, including his “base.” What, then?
We want this, and we need this, that’s the truth. Every symptom is an attempted cure. We want this malignant fool to remind us of how deeply we have betrayed ourselves, of how far we have strayed from principles that could still ground us.
By “we” I mean us, us Americans, orphans all, with nothing shared except the story of how we could claim to govern ourselves. No national origin, no linguistic affinity, no religious commonality, no racial similarity, no nothing. We share only what we make of ourselves, between ourselves, with ourselves. Liberty and equality, not the either/or we get from the neo-liberals in both parties.
This so-called man in the White House is an anomaly and an abomination. He’s the disease. Do we have the cure? I guess not. This lament forgets that the Republican Party wants to follow him down the road to perdition.