April 29th, 2017

Adam Gopnik “tries” to resist Trump Derangement Syndrome

He tries—but he fails.

Or is he just pretending to talk himself out of Trump Derangement Syndrome, while consolidating it for himself and his readers? He gives up the anti-TDS fight awfully easily, doesn’t he?

I understand, Adam. Believe me, I do. It takes no imagination at all for me to imagine being a liberal in your position, confronted with the shock of a Trump presidency. But you can try a little harder than this to resist:

We owe it to our country and to our sanity to go on a case-by-case basis, empirically evaluating each action as it takes place, and refusing to succumb to the urge to turn politics into a series of set responses—exactly the habit, after all, that we so often deplore in Trump and the people around him.

This is a perfectly reasonable assertion, and one that would count for a lot in pretty much any semi-normal circumstance. The problem is that it refuses to see, or to entirely register, the actual nature of Trump and his actions. Our problem is not Trump Derangement Syndrome; our problem is Deranged Trump Self-Delusion. This is the habit of willfully substituting, as a motive for Trump’s latest action, a conventional political or geostrategic ambition, rather than recognizing the action as the daily spasm of narcissistic gratification and episodic vanity that it truly is.

See how it goes? Something like it would be reasonable to be reasonable about Trump if we didn’t know that we shouldn’t be reasonable because everything Trump does has evil motivation even if it looks like it might not. Talk about circular reasoning!

Gopnik goes on to describe various actions by Trump that might be considered to have benign motives but which he rejects out of hand. What’s more, he warns his readers that it is dangerous to think otherwise—in other words, that any defection from Trump Derangement System is the beginning of a slide down the slippery slope of compromise with evil:

Doubtless there will soon be revisionist trends in the assessment of Trump, with journalists insisting that beneath the flailing and lying there is something resembling a plan—that one can connect the dot, and see a real picture. Don’t buy it.

Don’t open your mind and even consider the alternative to Trump-as-evil. If this sounds a mite familiar, it should. Not only is it a variant of the same thing I wrote about earlier today regarding the reception of Bret Stephens’ NY Times column on AGW, but it’s the same thing I’ve written about for over a decade: the left’s closed minds and intolerance of any thought that challenges its belief system and agenda.

Thinking for oneself and opening up one’s mind—who knows to where it might lead? After all, someone like me who happened upon certain alternate (conservative) views that made more sense to me than the liberal/left ones I’d always known, and who changed her political affiliation as a result—someone like that is dangerous to the solidarity of the left.

When I was a liberal Democrat (I was never on the left, although “liberal Democrat” and “leftist” have become more synonymous these days than they were when I was young), I actually believed that “liberal” meant “open-minded and willing to listen to the opinions of others.” Therefore it was one of the shocks of my life to be the recipient of so much rage when I tried to discuss my differing and changing views with people I knew. Some were okay with it, by the way. But many were not, and I could not have predicted in advance who those people were going to be.

But I don’t think that even in my liberal Democrat days I would have nodded along with what Gopnik is writing in his column. But there are an awful lot of people who will.

36 Responses to “Adam Gopnik “tries” to resist Trump Derangement Syndrome”

  1. Griffin Says:

    They have invested so much energy into hating Trump that there is almost no way for them to back off now. We are seeing about the best it’s going to get as the freakouts have slowed down the last month or so. But as time goes on they are really just preaching to their fellow believers because the boy who cried wolf syndrome has started to take over. Normal people see that we are not actually in Nazi Germany part two and that in fact no one is coming to take Rachel Maddow to a concentration camp so the hysterics stop working.

  2. Cornhead Says:

    Open mindedness was what I thought a liberal was too. That left me open to switching. And the critical thinking skills the Jesuits taught me were key.

    When a young man joins the Society of Jesus there is an exercise where every aspect of their Catholic faith is tested and questioned. A real Devil’s Advocate thing. If one survives the test, then one’s faith is stronger.

  3. n.n Says:

    Our reformed/conservative rabbi, alluding to the refugee crises forced by our last president, but assigning responsibility to our current president, preached that Nazis classified and denied rights to people. Profiled people correlated with geographical origin and inferred a philosophical significance. Never again… or something.

    I suppose that conditions on the ground prevented accepting responsibility for the collateral damage from adventurism, including elective regime changes, and opportunism, including premature evacuation, that forced the refugee crises, and thus excuse accountability.

    In the words of the famous progressive matriarch: What difference, at this point, does it make?

    Apparently, quite a lot, and the opportunity is not wasted.

  4. n.n Says:

    Liberalism is divergent. Progressivism is monotonic change. Progressive liberalism is catastrophically dysfunctional. Conservatism is a preservation of state. Principles matter.

  5. realHuxley Says:

    …I actually believed that “liberal” meant “open-minded and willing to listen to the opinions of others.” Therefore it was one of the shocks of my life to be the recipient of so much rage when I tried to discuss my differing and changing views with people I knew.

    neo: Bingo! Me too.

    I didn’t figure my progressive friends would welcome my new opinions after I switched sides, but I thought they would listen.

    Some tried for a while. But mostly I was ignored, attacked, or shunned.

    At my progressive church I kept asking why, if they valued diversity and welcomed all people, they relentlessly bashed conservatives from the pulpit and at all levels of church interaction.

    I never got an answer, which after a while I realized was the answer.

  6. realHuxley Says:

    Gopnik used to write good intelligent pieces on art and literature for the New Yorker. Now he writes continuous deranged articles on politics.

    Which is the story of the New Yorker as well.

    A damn shame.

  7. neo-neocon Says:

    realHuxley:

    Agreed. I used to really like his stuff.

  8. neo-neocon Says:

    Cornhead:

    That’s fascinating, about the Jesuits.

  9. J.J. Says:

    “This is the habit of willfully substituting, as a motive for Trump’s latest action, a conventional political or geostrategic ambition, rather than recognizing the action as the daily spasm of narcissistic gratification and episodic vanity that it truly is.”

    It is their personal dislike of the man, that drives this TDS. Trump’s policies and actions are not necessarily conservative. I classify him as an extreme pragmatist. He is willing to change positions on a dime if he thinks it will get the results he wants.

    They see only his vanity and his willingness to sneer at political correctness. It drives them nuts! They have always been able to bring the GOP establishment to heel with their personal attacks. It’s not working this time. Did I mention it’s driving them nuts!

    An economic boom from unleashing the energy industry, cutting unnecessary regulations, and tax reform will drive them even further round the bend. And will keep them out of power for a long time. Let it be so.

  10. realHuxley Says:

    Agreed. I used to really like his stuff.

    neo: That’s the thing. I can’t help but think that even today either of us could have a decent conversation with Gopnik, if thrown together at some gathering, as long as the conversation didn’t become political.

    I’m sure he’d be happy to assume we were on his side because we could catch and throw cultural references back and forth.

    But as soon as politics cropped up, it would be different, even if we didn’t out ourselves.

    I get it and I don’t get it. Either way it’s sad.

  11. mollyNH Says:

    Often I try to interact with a liberal and give them a jolt with a pro Trump needle! Like when the coal from NK all ready boated and headed for China was ordered to head back in preference for that West VA variety, & just think all that after one visit to Mar a Lago. Lol, mostly greeted with no response but then I add Pelosi & hill will be bald soon.

  12. Griffin Says:

    ‘Agreed. I used to really like his stuff’

    It’s kind of sad the number of writers from the non political world that have gone off the deep end in the last few years. The world of sports journalism has become filled with SJW wannabes that occasionally do a little sports reporting. A lot of the time I generally agree with them on most things sports wise but they have this contempt for those who disagree with them that has led me to lose total respect for them.

  13. Irene Says:

    Adam Gopnik can’t hold a candle to David Remnick. Remnick has totally gone off the deep end.

    I can’t imagine what the New Yorker is going to do. It’s one thing to rant like this before the election or inauguration, but how long can they keep this up? And what’s their end game re: their own credibility? Trump getting impeached? Or doesn’t that matter anymore?

    I mean, this is the New Yorker, supposedly the height of sophistication in this country. Sadly, they’ve turned insular and provincial and the worst thing is they don’t even realize it.

  14. neo-neocon Says:

    Irene:

    Well, they certainly used to realize it.

  15. JohnGalt47 Says:

    In 1966, 2 yes after campaigning for LBJ, 2 yes before voting for HH, and 6 yes before voting for McGovern I got a similar statement from a Liberal girl I was chasing. I thought (speak and no pussy) Know thyself! And I didn’t get any pussy.

  16. Big Maq Says:

    ” I classify him as an extreme pragmatist. He is willing to change positions on a dime if he thinks it will get the results he wants.” – JJ

    Well, that is one way to look at it.

    I tend to look at it is unbound by any consistent philosophy, set of ideas, or guiding principles.

    “Pragmatism” in pursuit of whatever goals he has, does not necessarily translate to “pragmatism” in pursuit of conservative objectives.

    How many things can he reverse himself on before he crosses a line for his core support? IDK, but it seems rather many.

    Sooner or later this will catch up with him, or, worse, it will catch up with us, if we hold conservative principles.

    Not to say he hasn’t done/initiated some laudable things. For two examples, I’m glad he backed down from abrogating NAFTA and NATO.

    Is that being “pragmatic”, is it “learning on the job”, is it “just a negotiating position”, IDK. But if one campaigns on such things, even putting it in writing as promised accomplishments in their first 100 days, well, the expectation is rather set then, isn’t it?

    I think some of these reversals are the right decision (e.g. bombing Syrian bases vs isolationism), but it is not clear if they are just a spur of the moment tactic, or are founded in a strategy with a solid objective.

    One can survive on several tactical moves, but without a strategy and objective, eventually the bluff will be blown, the gig is up.

    It is nigh impossible to formulate a strategy if one doesn’t operate from some guiding principles. It can be faked for some time, especially if there are those acolytes who are stepping in to explain it all in such terms.

    If one has them, it is nigh impossible to suddenly change positions so dramatically on so many things in so short a time.

    Are we seeing “pragmatism” or are we seeing someone who is operating on something very different, without some guiding principles / philosophy?

    Or, is trump revealing himself to be truly ignorant on all counts – of what it truly takes to manage the office of POTUS, of how complex the world really is, of the difficulties in corralling support in a democratic process? His recent quote seems to indicate so.

    Or does he really believe that bluster, personal attacks, and diversionary lies are how the world works, and are the things that demonstrate the all important “strength”, providing the ultimate path to “Winning!!!”?

    I don’t think anyone, least of all his hard core supporters, have him figured out. He is too malleable to pin down, even after these 100 days.

    And that is NOT a good thing, despite what he may have accomplished so far that we favor.

    It may well be THE obstacle in “getting things done” in DC, as, ultimately, there is no trust.

    And THIS is the biggest lost opportunity of the last 100 days.

  17. AesopFan Says:

    realHuxley Says:
    April 29th, 2017 at 8:22 pm
    Agreed. I used to really like his stuff.

    neo: That’s the thing. I can’t help but think that even today either of us could have a decent conversation with Gopnik, if thrown together at some gathering, as long as the conversation didn’t become political.

    I’m sure he’d be happy to assume we were on his side because we could catch and throw cultural references back and forth.

    <b.But as soon as politics cropped up, it would be different, even if we didn’t out ourselves.

    I get it and I don’t get it. Either way it’s sad.
    * * *
    I think conservatives got fed up with always being the ones walking around the land mines. It’s very tiring.
    No one seems to worry about offending us or hurting our feelings, and Trump profited from that long-suppressed resentment.

    Gopnik is representative of the people who can’t even imagine that Donald Trump (or the people who voted for him; the two run together in his writing) can do something good or have good motives etc etc – it may stem from Trump’s refusal to bow down to Obama years ago.

    http://www.newyorker.com/news/daily-comment/trump-and-obama-a-night-to-remember
    “.. only once, in 2011, have I attended the annual White House Correspondents’ Association dinner in Washington, D.C.,…the President took apart Donald Trump, plastic piece by orange part, and then refused to put him back together again.

    Trump was then at the height of his unimaginably ugly marketing of birther fantasies, and, just days before, the state of Hawaii had, at the President’s request, released Obama’s long-form birth certificate in order to end, or try to end, the nonsense. Having referred to that act, he then gently but acutely mocked Trump’s Presidential ambitions: “I know that he’s taken some flack lately—no one is prouder to put this birth-certificate matter to rest than the Donald. And that’s because he can finally get back to the issues that matter, like: did we fake the moon landing? What really happened in Roswell? And—where are Biggie and Tupac?” The President went on, “We all know about your credentials and breadth of experience. For example—no, seriously—just recently, in an episode of Celebrity Apprentice”—there was laughter at the mention of the program’s name. Obama explained that, when a team did not impress, Trump “didn’t blame Lil Jon or Meatloaf—you fired Gary Busey. And these are the kinds of decisions that would keep me up at night.”

    What was really memorable about the event, though, was Trump’s response. Seated a few tables away from us magazine scribes, Trump’s humiliation was as absolute, and as visible, as any I have ever seen: his head set in place, like a man in a pillory, he barely moved or altered his expression as wave after wave of laughter struck him. There was not a trace of feigning good humor about him, not an ounce of the normal politician’s, or American regular guy’s “Hey, good one on me!” attitude—that thick-skinned cheerfulness that almost all American public people learn, however painfully, to cultivate. No head bobbing or hand-clapping or chin-shaking or sheepish grinning—he sat perfectly still, chin tight, in locked, unmovable rage. If he had not just embarked on so ugly an exercise in pure racism, one might almost have felt sorry for him.”

    No mention that Obama is not at all thick-skinned (and often reacted just as negatively to lese majeste remarks), and Gopnik continues his article in something that can only be characterized as a riff on Hillary’s Basket of Deplorables.

    Did Trump run for president just for revenge?
    Maybe not with that as the sole motivation, but I doubt he’s forgotten 2011, and the probably-not-too-gentle laughter from the media and establishment.

  18. AesopFan Says:

    This is not about Gopnick personally, but addresses the problem he represents.

    http://www.americanthinker.com/articles/2017/04/are_liberals_hopelessly_irrational.html

  19. Irene Says:

    @Aesop Fan

    After that WHCD, my husband remarked that that was first time he knew of where the President of the United States attacked and humiliated a private citizen in public that way.

    Noblesse oblige, etc.

  20. Irene Says:

    @Big Mac
    “I tend to look at it is unbound by any consistent philosophy, set of ideas, or guiding principles.”

    Trump wants to get somewhere. He twists and turns, sets up unlikely combinations and outmaneuvers most everybody.

    For example, not long ago, it was announced that America had no place at the negotiating table re: Syria. It took Trump less than 90 days to turn that around bigly.

    I don’t think there’s any doubt what his guiding principles are. He’s been talking about them since at least the ’80s. The guy’s what used to be called a patriot.

  21. Irene Says:

    @Neo

    I always loved that cover. It was later to be found on dishes, shower curtains, ashtrays and a bunch of other stuff.

    We used to laugh when we saw it because it was true either way: NYC was the US or NYC was just taking the p*ss out of itself. But mostly New Yorkers took pride in it. Still do!

  22. realHuxley Says:

    I don’t think there’s any doubt what his guiding principles are. He’s been talking about them since at least the ’80s. The guy’s what used to be called a patriot.

    Irene: He’s been talking patriotism lately, but I don’t remember anything special from the 80s, 90s or 00s.

    Back then he just seemed a man desperate for celebrity and money, having no problem with trash talk and sleazy business practices.

    Smearing Ted Cruz’s father last year as an accomplice in the JFK assassination struck me as a great way not to make America great again.

    Likewise Trump’s smear of the Bush administration as lying about WMD in Iraq was straight out of the Code Pink playbook.

    I’m glad Trump is doing better than I expected, but based on his record, I have no regrets I didn’t support him in 2016.

  23. Bill Says:

    One man’s “vigorous defense of liberty” is another man’s “(fill in the blank) derangement syndrome”

    Imagine if HRC had won. The comments threads here would be full of Civil War 2 prognostications, predictions of gulag and labor camps, etc.

    I think in our tribalist, politics-as-blood-sport culture the derangement goes both ways.

    We do it because it’s fun and because it keeps us from having to look at our enemy as a human being or even consider that they might, occasionally be acting in good faith.

    It’s bad on the left (and never Trump right) these days but I don’t think the right has a lot of room to claim superiority on this front.

  24. realHuxley Says:

    Bill: To be sure tribalist, politics-as-blood-sport derangement goes both ways. But that doesn’t mean it’s all potato-potahto equivalence.

    There was grumbling and concern from conservatives in Obama’s first 100 days, but as I recall we were mostly holding our breath to see what would happen, not the full-scale meltdown-tantrum-rioting we see across the board from the Democrats and progressives today.

    Here’s my old yoga teacher, Mark Morford, losing it completely in his SFGate column:

    https://ricochet.com/426097/vive-la-resistance-san-francisco-chronicle-columnists-plaintive-cry-help/

  25. realHuxley Says:

    It’s bad on the left (and never Trump right) these days

    Bill: I see no equivalence here at all. I hear Glenn Beck still adamantly opposes Trump but he’s not on my beat.

    The rest of us NeverTrump, from what I can tell, are saying, “Well, he’s President now so there is no more NeverTrump. In the meantime we will call President Trump’s actions as we see them and give credit where credit is due.”

    Most of the National Review staff opposed Trump during the campaign, but they’ve been pretty even-handed about him since he was inaugurated.

  26. Big Maq Says:

    “not the full-scale meltdown-tantrum-rioting we see across the board from the Democrats and progressives today.” – huxley

    Well, there is a difference in how the left and right express themselves, for sure.

    But, in 2008/9, it was hardly “holding our breath to see what would happen”.

    I do recall well “conservative” talk radio taking a turn to more anger and attack. Just one example of the direction…
    https://www.rushlimbaugh.com/daily/2009/01/16/limbaugh_i_hope_obama_fails/

    In 2012 they become even more intense.
    http://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2012/07/16/rush_limbaugh_obama_hates_this_country.html

    (I recall Neo writing an article or two or three?? on this phenomenon in “conservative” media)

    After 2016, looking back, while I vehemently disagree with much of what obama stood for philosophically at the time, it seems many voices on the right were not all holding back and giving the guy a chance, as implied.

    Yes, perhaps the right were more orderly, with the Tea Party organizations / activities, but the anger was there and the temperature was raised bit by bit in “conservative” media along the way.

    Rather agree with Bill, that had clinton won, we’d see angry demonstrations, and all kinds of hyperbolic accusations aimed at her, the dems, and the left overall.

    Would there be violence on the scale we’ve seen from the left in reaction to trump? I’d like to think not, but then again, I didn’t think folks on “our” side would find trump anywhere near acceptable.

    Agree that the NeverTrump have largely moved on, and taken a more case by case approach (probably more reflective of their philosophy).

    But at this point, G0d only knows how hard core trump supporters would have reacted if trump lost and claimed the election “rigged”. That is more comparable than the NeverTrump folks.

  27. n.n Says:

    There were several reasons to oppose Obama. One, he is pro-abortion. Two, he was an advocate for redistributive change. Three, he is a [class] diversitist. Four, he was anti-nativist and opportunistic. Five, he was anti-capitalist and promoted establishment of liberal fiscal policies, including Obamacare, and other monopolistic practices. So, he sustained and progressed the leftist status quo.

    As for the rabbi(s), the retired one, and the current one, they bore false witness against their neighbor. Even going so far as to accuse them of being Pro-Choice.

  28. Bill Says:

    When I referred to the Never Trump right, I think I was mainly speaking of… me.

    I don’t know if I’m deranged, but I still wake up some mornings and have to remind myself that, yes, in reality, the lying, adulterous, non-conservative, conspiracy theorist, schoolyard insult artist, walking conflict of interest, ignorant, thin-skinned tand self-regarding narcissist, making himself even richer than he was before off of his new position, is actually President.

    True confession.

  29. Cornhead Says:

    Bill:

    He’s not Hillary.

  30. Bill Says:

    Cornhead

    Got it.

  31. Big Maq Says:

    “He’s not Hillary.” – Cornhead

    Seems like an excuse now for anything wrt trump.

    Just found this – seems appropriate to that tired refrain:

    “Then there are the folks who are mostly-in for Trump. Every day I hear people say on Twitter, “Yeah, he’s flawed but at least he’s not Hillary.” But what kind of standard is that? I’m glad Hillary’s not president. Truly. But if your yardstick for a Republican president — not candidate, but president — is now “He’s better than Hillary,” then you’ve filed down the yardstick to a couple inches. “Better than Hillary” strikes me as the minimum requirement for a conservative president, not an omnibus justification for anything he does. – Jonah Goldberg
    http://www.nationalreview.com/g-file/447188/trump-100-days-cult-action-fdr-way-forward

  32. Richard Saunders Says:

    AesopFan — Trump was not “marketing birther fantasies;” Trump was repeating what Obama himself said:

    http://www.snopes.com/politics/obama/birthers/booklet.asp

    Lest you be tempted to believe the publicist’s claim that it was her fault, let me assure you, as someone who has written many articles and parts of books, and whose wife has several books to her name, publishers and publicists do not make up those bios on their own, they ask you to sent them a one-paragraph biography. Ask any writer you know.

    So the question is, was Barry lying then, or is he lying now?

  33. Bill Says:

    Trump was not “marketing birther fantasies”

    Yes, he was.

  34. Carol Says:

    The Syria stuff really gets me. One would think that the sight of babies poisoned with gas would be enough to justify a targeted response. Doesn’t the world universally condemn chemical and biological weapons ( except Assad of course)? Why even Obama called that a red line offense. And I don’t recall any hysteria over that- I guess because all the leftists knew he didn’t actually mean what he said.

    Likewise the Wall. In 2006 when Congress passed the Secure Fence Act, with many Democrat votes, I don’t remember any screeching about Apartheid or the Berlin Wall or Hitler. Why was that? Because they knew Obama would never build it?

    So weary of the hypocrisy.

  35. Ymar Sakar Says:

    Humans are weak and pathetic. Those that had higher expectatns were found to be smashed in the face by the Left’s boot. I didn’t have to do anything.

    In fact, one of the reasons why people who tried and failed to insult me by calling me crazy here, end up becoming just like me is because I told you so. I don’t have to lift a finger to convince people that everything I say about the Leftist alliance is true, because they are 10 years too late and 10 years too early to get it. Once the Left smashes your face in long and hard enough, enough pain will make you hate them. I don’t have to lift a finger, so it doesn’t matter what people think of me or how many debate points they think they have scored off of me. It never did.

  36. Ymar Sakar Says:

    A real Devil’s Advocate thing. If one survives the test, then one’s faith is stronger.

    It’s more like an onion method to recruit for the Society of Judas Iscariot. Because the key is what happens to those who don’t survive the test, yet everyone thinks they did because the system was setup that way.

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.
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