Two impossibilities: Brexit and President Trump. Not in the conventional sense that they were both considered impossible events until they became real, but rather in the sense that they still are. The UK Govt is currently discovering to its cost and detriment that the country is simply too enmeshed in and dependent on EU countries for separation to occur in any meaningful sense. A simple equation serves to demonstrate the truth of this:
Britain – the EU = not Britain
Their problem now is that millions of British people still think that Brexit will take place. They have been sold a pig in a poke and no amount of specious rhetoric (“Brexit = Brexit”) will placate them. Somehow the UK Government has to convince them that ‘Brexit’ is taking place while continuing to fudge the whole issue. The best solution they have come up with to this conundrum is to scapegoat those who are ‘preventing’ ‘Brexit’ – at the moment, the courts, and then in almost all probability the Scottish. Actually, of course, the main obstacle to Brexit is the UK Government itself because they will have quickly realised that, as I may have already mentioned, Brexit is impossible. (This condition of fetishising the external thing that supposedly stops you doing what you secretly don’t actually want to do must be present in psychoanalytical literature somewhere.)
As for Trump, the Republicans have anointed the worst white man in the world to replace the first black President. The problem they now have is that Trump is utterly incapable of governing. He is a man who will clearly be unable to master the complex tasks inherent to the job. Being President of a large powerful nation involves dealing with huge amounts of detailed information. Although there is some limited evidence that Trump has some ability to understand short written sentences, there is no way that someone of his *extremely* restricted intellectual prowess will be able to read the morass of documents he will have to handle on a daily basis, or even to understand the most basic gist when they are explained to him. There’s also the question of workload. Here is Obama describing an average day in his life as President. It’s demanding stuff, and the mere fact that the word ‘intelligence’ is used three times suggests strongly that the new President will struggle. By contrast, Trump’s typical day almost certainly revolves around a heavy schedule of cheating at golf, inspecting prospective line-ups of mid-teen prostitutes, spending seven solid hours on Twitter in an increasingly frustrating bid for ego-gratification, signing documents for buildings that he does not own, telling his children that they are worthless, and looking out of the window of his plane wondering why his own father hated him so much. Much has been made of his lack of political experience but few have considered the possibility that this is man so lacking in concentration and stamina that he has probably never sat through an entire episode of the West Wing. (Neither have I, but no one has suggested making me President.)
As a consequence of Trump’s manifest incapacity, the Republican leadership will have to do something like the Portuguese did after the stroke suffered by the dictator Salazar after 1968: convince him that he is still running the country while letting him nowhere near the actual levers of power. (Something similar probably happens in one or more of Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s novels.) However, in the case of Trump they will also have to persuade the people who voted for him that he is in charge. This will be very tricky indeed. A big issue is how he will deal with foreign leaders, who will inevitably see him at his most pitifully deluded. After all, as Lacan said, the madman is not only the beggar who thinks he is King, but also the King who thinks he is King. Obama and his predecessors learnt on the job how to ‘be’ ‘President’, but Trump is very clearly someone incapable of any form of behavioural development.
Inevitably Italians have been quick to draw comparisons with Berlusconi*, which led me to the thought: I wonder if Trump himself has reflected on the similarity? I wonder if he admires his child-raping counterpart? Then quickly I remembered: he’s almost certainly never heard of Berlusconi, or Garcia Marquez, or even, on a bad day, Vladimir Putin. I strongly suspect that the only person who Trump has heard of is himself. He is his whole world and it is highly likely that his thought patterns consist only of his own name on a loop. His mental faculties appear to be only slightly more sophisticated than those of an adult pig, alhough there is evidence that pigs do experience some measure of empathy for the suffering of others of their species. I know that when Jon Ronson wrote The Psychopath Test his express intention was to ensure that people should not go throwing the term around with wild abandon, but his book is a very useful primer on the subject, and although some have claimed that Trump is nothing more than an absolutely appalling human being, the fact that he was the hero of Patrick Bateman in ‘American Psycho’ should tell us all we need to know**.
But now, thanks largely to the laziness and complacency of Democrat voters who were warned very clearly of the dangers but simply couldn’t be bothered to vote, he is ‘President of the United States’. Just like the UK Government in relation to Brexit, the US Republican Party is now faced with the conundrum of managing a situation which is to all intents and purposes impossible. There may already be whispers in the arras that he could be forcibly removed. In the light of his apparent insistence that Sarah Palin should play a prominent role in world affairs*** few rational people living or dead would be all that opposed to a good old-fashioned off-stage poisoning or stabbing. Or possibly an air crash? I sincerely hope that 1) there are still some Republican leaders out there who still have some measure of faith in the values they profess and the integrity to implement them and 2) that they have left no options off the table. Perhaps the ensuing violence and social breakdown would go someway towards persuading those seven million abstaining Democrats that the future of their country should actually be of their concern.
* – Italian politics is actually blessed with three near-equivalents to Trump: ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi, current far-right leader Matteo Salvini, and eternal fucking prick Beppe “Anti-fascism is outside my purview” Grillo.
** – in the words of this week’s New Yorker, Trump “exhibits levels of egotism rarely witnessed out of a clinical environment”, and the ghost-writer of one of ‘his’ ‘books'(‘The Art of the Deal’) says openly that if he were to write it now he would simply call it ‘The Psychopath’.
*** – there is a distinct possibility that Trump thought of Sarah Palin for a government post because she is one of the very few political figures he has heard of and doesn’t yet feel threatened by. Of course, this is only a partial explanation. Should she reject his inevitable subsequent advances we might see the first unpresidential mental explosion of the Orange Prick Era.