Friday, May 19, 2017

The Emptiness Inside

Coast Guard Academy grads celebrate graduation 
Those fortunate enough to have had the privilege of graduating from high school or college recognize the commencement speech as a time-honored tradition.

Particularly for college grads, the ceremony marks a major educational achievement, a pivotal moment of transition from youth to adulthood - from student to (hopefully) professional.  

A dose of pomp and circumstance before the sobering reality of college debt and monthly bills settles in.

Commencement speakers are often selected for their professional achievements and stature in the hopes that their words will illuminate and inspire graduates in ways that will have a meaningful impact upon their outlook as they set out upon the journey of life.

So one can only wonder what the young graduates of the Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut must have been thinking Wednesday as Donald Trump took the podium to speak at their commencement ceremony marking their final day as cadets.

Amusement? Horror? Befuddlement? Terror?

It would be impossible to try and gauge the political leanings of each of the graduates of the Coast Guard Academy who watched the embattled POTUS try and deliver a commencement address.

But having willingly embraced the rigors of a military academy and committed no small portion of their lives to the security of the nation, one would assume they have a basic respect for the office of commander-in-chief.

Like all U.S. service members they work for the American people, but the president is in effect, their "boss."

Which, for some of the those Coast Guard grads, has to be uncomfortable.

CG Academy grad Robert Popiel looking pumped
to be photographed with Trump 
There were a number of female cadets on hand to receive their degrees on Wednesday.

What was going through the minds of those young women as they were forced to listen to a man who'd openly bragged about using his celebrity status to put his hands on women's privates like some kind of creepy lecherous perv?

His remarks once again appealed to the lowest common denominator.

Instead of using the opportunity to offer specifics about his long-term defense strategy or foreign policy objectives, or inspire the young graduates, Trump dwelled on his favorite subject - himself.

It was the first time the High-Chair President had spoken publicly since reports surfaced that recently-fired FBI Director James Comey's notes reveal Trump asked him to halt an investigation into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.
45 embarrassed himself by trying to characterize the media's demands for clarification of his recent chaotic and confusing actions as some kind of "witch hunt".

As if journalists exercising their 1st Amendment rights to demand answers as to why Trump fired the man leading an investigation into his administration's ties with Russia is some kind of persecution or personal vendetta.

"Look at the way I've been treated lately, especially by the media." he whined to 20-something college graduates. 

Artist depiction of the assassination of
President William McKinley on Sept. 6 1901
"No politician has been treated worse." Trump insisted.

Apparently forgetting that presidents Abraham Lincoln, William McKinley and JFK were all assassinated while in office.

As if the slew of monumentally stupid decisions Trump has made, and the lies and ignorance he constantly spews on Twitter are somehow the fault of the media.

His inability to tell the truth, or to take responsibility for the fallout resulting from his own screw-ups is simply staggering.

Sadly for those Coast Guard cadets who had to sit there on graduation day and listen to his demented rambling, it wasn't even a proper commencement address - it was yet another example of the disturbing depths of Trump's delusion and rampant narcissism.

In the April 5th issue of Rolling Stone, Journalist Alex Morris deftly explored the very real psychological basis for accusations by a number of mental health professionals that Trump displays multiple signs of narcissistic personality disorder (NPD).

As Morris notes, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders defines NPD as:

"A pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior), need for admiration, and lack of empathy beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts."

Click the link above and read the common traits of NPD - it reads like a virtual checklist of Trump's behavior, statements and actions.

In a modern industrialized nation with the largest economy in the world it's simply mind-boggling to consider just how much of this presidential administration's narrative and focus revolves not around the needs and challenges faced by the American people, but on Trump himself.

Former Congressman Barney Frank
Not matter the issue, somehow it's always about him.

In Morris' RS article she cites an example of the 1999 funeral of Donald Trump Sr. in New York.

While other speakers noted his father's accomplishments as a builder of middle class housing, when Trump got up to speak he not only began listing his own personal achievements, he told the gathered mourners that his father's greatest accomplishment was giving birth to Donald.

As former Democratic Congressman Barney Frank was quoted as saying in Morris' article:

"I have never seen anybody in public life so focused on the trivial aspects of his own persona. Certainly not  a person with a lot of responsibility."

To wrap up, I can totally understand that members of America's military academies harbor respect for the commander-in-chief.

But I'm still a bit baffled at the reception that Trump received from the Coast Guard cadets on Wednesday.

Especially considering the national outcry from people (including members of the Coast Guard) earlier this year when the widely-ridiculed White House budget for fiscal 2018 included a whopping $1.3 billion cut in the Coast Guard's budget.

For all of Trump's pontificating about keeping Americans safe, and the role the Coast Guard plays in both national security and public safety, the idea that he wanted to cut $1.3 billion from their budget in order to find money for the construction of his wall along the Mexican border was absurd.

The delusional thinking of a man who, in the words of Alex Morris, "would expect Americans to go along with his rhetoric and ignore that behind the self-aggrandizing, the unyielding drive for more and more confirmation of the myth of his own greatness, he may have only his own emptiness to offer."

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