From now until at least the midterm elections in November, we’ll be featuring essays from powerful cultural voices alongside one simple thing, chosen by the author, that you can do to take action against the paralyzing apoplexy of the daily news. Maybe it’ll be an organization that deserves your donation; maybe it’ll be an issue that deserves greater awareness. Whatever it is, our aim is to remind you, and ourselves, of the big and small things we can do to work toward justice and change.
Nobody Hates Trump More than Trump (excerpt)
by David Shields
The dead metaphor “like a dog,” which Trump uses all the time (“choked like a dog,” “sweated like a dog,” “dumped like a dog,” “fired like a dog,” etc.) feels to me like a clue to his psyche — of what, though, exactly? Did he have a dog as a kid? Did he torture animals as a child? He gave his elementary school music teacher a black eye, threw rocks at toddlers in playpens.
A professional mediator of injury cases tells me that plaintiffs are invariably convinced that their life was perfect before the accident; her job is to disabuse the plaintiff of this notion. I’m obsessed with trying to figure out what Trump’s wound is. It’s not apparent to me what it is.
I’m interested in the ways in which stories of suffering might be used to mask other, less marketable stories of suffering.
Steve Schmidt on Trump: “a titanic ego that is paper-thin.”
Narcissism as an incredibly obvious marker for self-loathing.
Jane Lynch on her Glee character, Sue Sylvester: “No one is that cocksure unless she’s hiding something.”
My childhood friend — whose brother was later convicted of murder — and I would sit on a wall outside the school and say something “witty” about each person passing by; the wit consisted of “praising” something about each person that was his or her deficit.
Trump’s description of someone (probably Andrew Stein, former Manhattan Borough president) “being hit over the head with a cannon.” Trump is, to me, a bit like certain athletes, if one can say that, or other people who speak in entirely demotic language; it’s never quite clear whether he’s illiterate (“Korea best not”; “very epic”; in re: structuring a season of The Apprentice around the opposition of a white team against a black team: “Whether people like that idea or not, it is somewhat reflective of our very vicious world”) or whether his malapropisms are, at least occasionally, an intentional form of modest witticism and/or faux-populism, the key test case being, “I’m, like, a very smart person.” The “like” here is Ashbery-level genius.
I’ve known Paris Hilton from the time she was twelve… She’s incredibly beautiful… dumb like a fox.
One of the unique ways in which Trump talks is that he always listens to himself talking and is in active, perpetual, tragicomic dialogue/debate with what he’s just said — his inability, in other words, to believe anything (Tim Parks: “Perhaps the idea of any of us standing behind a position is naïve”). In a sense, he has the tendencies of a (very bad) personal essayist.
Montaigne: “We are, I know not how, double within ourselves, with the result that we do not believe what we believe, and we cannot rid ourselves of what we condemn.”
I’m very well behaved, actually. Almost always. I’m very down-the-middle.
I love all people, rich or poor, but in those particular positions, I just don’t want a poor person. Does that make sense? Does that make sense? If you insist, I’ll do it, but I like it better this way. Right?
I don’t think they’re that far off. I don’t think we’re that far, after last week. Famous last words, right? I think we’ll get there.
The most interesting thing about him to me, by far, is his commitment to self-immolation, which is unmissable and unending.
Trump as the most obvious country song ever written: the more braggadocious the utterance, the more emphatically it reveals his level of distress, anxiety, and ennui.
Whenever, very briefly, Trump is feeling upbeat, he goes in for those various finger gestures from the podium — the accountant’s circle, the magician’s sliding/missing two fingers, the mafia don’s shrug, the Schwarzkopf aim-and-point, et al. It’s a hand. It’s a gun. It’s a penis.
Enormous and inedible quasi-grapes meant to be experienced less as food and more as Platonic versions of, or fantasies about, actual grapes.
I almost never give money to beggars, but I give $5 to a bum holding the sign I’M REALLY BAD AT THIS. Self-consciousness, self-awareness, self-reflexivity is, to me, the saving human grace.
Dave Grosby, an almost unimaginably bad Seattle sports-radio talk-show host, is bored beyond belief with his job, but he doesn’t do anything with his boredom; he’s just bored. Seems to me one has to mask the boredom or make the boredom funny. Something.
What Trump does is he shows you how bored he is; he also knows how to act excited; and he also shows you the space between the boredom and the excitement; it’s a never-ending feedback loop, and the viewer is clued in every second. This is the part that feels flattering, fun.
Should I say figure instead of body? It’s a little more respectful. No, her body is amazing.
It’s crucial to refer to the polite choice and the rude choice and then double down on the rude choice. The (very mild) frisson is in the emptying out of politesse.
Calling Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas” at a ceremony honoring Native American World War II code-talkers, Trump is incapable of leaving a gorgeous moment alone. He needs to empty it out, flatten it, piss on it (paying Moscow prostitutes to piss on a bed on which Obama slept; visiting a Vegas club called The Act, at which simulated golden showers were the key lure), turn glory or grace to shit, shit on it (instructing Stormy to spank him with an issue of Forbes on which he was the cover boy). Whence the origin of the drive?
Robin Quivers: Are you a happy man, Donald?
Trump: I like to say I’m content. I don’t know if I’m capable of happiness.
This is an excerpt from Nobody Hates Trump More than Trump: An Intervention, whose author plans to contribute to and participate in the midterm blue tsunami and encourages the reader to do the same.
David Shields is the internationally bestselling author of twenty books, including The Trouble with Men: Reflections on Sex, Love, Marriage, Porn, and Power, to be published next February.