The Saturday Night Live spoofs on Donald Trump, hilarious as they may be, have arguably fed a misleading narrative of Mr. Trump as a self-absorbed dunce too overwhelmed and disengaged to be the dangerously aggressive, manipulative, amoral personality he is.
It is no surprise, as ego-obsessed and thin-skinned as he is, that Mr. Trump has reacted to SNL with outrage to be portrayed as such–in a sense, he is right: in their satirical emphasis on his ignorance, vulgarity and cluelessness, the sketches misrepresent him, failing especially to capture the alarming indications of his authoritarianism and relish to exercise power not meekly, but with flagrant disregard for ethics, truth, diplomatic protocols and constitutional principles.
It is mildly comforting to cling to SNL’s more sanguine vision of Mr. Trump as “in over his head,” too befuddled and preoccupied with his image to pose a true, menacing threat. But this risks, as I suggest, perpetuating the sanitized narrative that got him elected. Since his election, we have seen too many more outrageous displays of provocative, indisciplined behavior. We have seen his choices to form his administration. Surely by now we have seen enough to retire what was never more than the dim hope that a secretly benign, sober-minded, moderate Donald Trump lay behind the rogue campaigner and his unseemly antics.
Mr. Trump will be pushed around and upstaged by no one. The dubious alliances he’s made, and likely with impudence will continue to make; the conflicts of interest he rationalizes and defends with staggering blitheness; the cynical, opportunistic shifting of his policy positions; his unwillingness to forcefully denounce the purveyors of racism and xenophobia his inciting rhetoric indisputably has coaxed from the weeds and emboldened; and his propensity to lie glibly and shamelessly attest less to his political malleability than his basic unconscionableness.
Finally, it is time to shed euphemistic explanations of Mr. Trump. If it is irresponsible to “officially” diagnose him, it is urgently necessary to recognize that his massive contempt for rules, propriety and limits, and brazen, transgressive audacity square less with the profile of a commonly disordered narcissist than a charismatic, psychopathic personality.
SNL shows us a Donald Trump we only wish was accurate, an almost pitiable, vulnerable President-elect desperate for a grip, disposed to tweet to his fragile ego’s content in frivolous, petulant pursuit of attention, recognition and petty justice. But this isn’t the “real” Donald Trump, nothing even close, as Mr. Trump himself has protested, and with transparent, compulsive relish, chillingly been warning us.
This article is copyrighted © 2016 by Steve Becker, LCSW, CH.T