The Psychopath in Chief
I spent hundreds of hours with Donald Trump to ghost-write ‘The Art of the Deal.’ I now see a deeper meaning behind his behavior.
“Imagine — if you can — not having a conscience, none at all, no feelings of guilt or remorse no matter what you do, no limiting sense of concern for the well-being of strangers, friends, or even family members. Imagine no struggles with shame, not a single one in your whole life, no matter what kind of selfish, lazy, harmful, or immoral action you had taken … You can do anything at all, and still your strange advantage over the majority of people, who are kept in line by their consciences, will most likely remain undiscovered. How will you live your life? What will you do with your huge and secret advantage?”
— Martha Stout, The Sociopath Next Door
Among the accomplishments Donald Trump parades most proudly is that he has won 18 golf club championships. Like so many of his claims, this one is pure fiction. When the sportswriter Rick Reilly investigated for his book Commander in Cheat: How Golf Explains Trump, he found that 16 of the claims were transparently false, and no evidence existed to support the other two. In one instance, Trump said he had won a championship at the Bedminster, New Jersey, club he owns, even though he was in Philadelphia on the day the event was held.
When Trump does play, Reilly reported, he takes “mulligans” (extra strokes that aren’t counted in one’s score ), throws opponent’s balls off the greens and into the bunkers, and kicks his own errant shots back onto the fairway so often that one of his caddies nicknamed him Pele, after the soccer star. “Trump doesn’t just cheat at golf,” Reilly concluded. “He cheats like a three-card Monty dealer. He throws it, boots it and moves it. He lies about his lies. He fudges and foozles and fluffs.”
How do we deal with a person whose core impulse in every part of his life is to deny, deceive, deflect, disparage, and double-down every time he is challenged? And what precisely is the danger such a person poses if he also happens to be the leader of the free world, during a crisis in which thousands of people are dying every day, with no letup in sight?