In Pop Culture
I want to break it down, this thing we call Trump Derangement Syndrome. Conservatives chuckle about it, but in its more extreme iterations, TDS isn’t funny. It’s painful to watch a friend or loved one seemingly lose control of their faculties based on their hatred of the president. Rational thought, proportion, logic: all abandoned due to an unhealthy, media-fueled obsession.
Psychology Today opined on the subject in January:
Such forms of highly emotional reaction could be something akin to the fainting and screaming characterizing American Beatlemania in the 1960s. Unlike the Beatles, however, the extreme emotional reaction alleged to characterize TDS is not based on adoration and admiration, but on fear and loathing.
If you prefer video evidence, check this out.
The afflicted believe that Trump personifies evil. That he is racist, sexist , homophobic, Islamophobic, a pedophile, a Nazi, a white supremacist, and dangerously impulsive. Before he ran for president as a Republican, I’d wager that a majority of TDS sufferers held a favorable-to-neutral opinion of Trump.
Attempt to convince a TDS sufferer that black unemployment is at all-time lows, that Trump hired a record number of senior level women, that he is empirically pro-LGBT, that his administration has busted more pedophiles than any other, that MSM has kept the Charlottesville lie alive in deeply cynical fashion, or that Trump’s seemingly impulsive Syria pull-out was part of a strategy designed to kill ISIS leader Baghdadi.
You simply cannot change the opinion of a conditioned mind, of a TDS sufferer. I’ve heard otherwise rational people say, “When something good happens under Trump, I assume it was by luck.” It’s fitting that the TDS crowd adopted the “Resist” mantra. It’s intentionally vague. For what is it that they are resisting? Jobs, secure borders, lower taxes?
To be fair, I understand those who disagree with Trump’s rhetoric. It doesn’t take a presidential historian to point out the brusque, raw, edgy, rude, and yes, sometimes even bullying diction Trump employs.
It’s a legitimate complaint, and I want to acknowledge it. It is not, in the traditional sense, presidential. Trump says mean stuff sometimes. Sometimes it’s for a laugh, or to “dunk” on an opponent. He prefers to be clear, and risk rudeness, rather than couching his sentiments–the sentiments of the leader of the most powerful country on earth–in politically correct hive-speak. He abhors ambiguity. In fact, one reason he was elected is that Americans were (and still are) tired of academy-manufactured speech and labels designed to placate an increasingly sensitized generation. Trump rightly rejects it with vigor. It’s nonsense language that obfuscates rather than clarifies. It is the screeching vernacular of unearned victimhood.
So if you don’t like his tone, fine. I get it. It’s the one complaint about his leadership that holds some water. Now that that’s settled: lighten up, Francis. They’re just words, words, words. Moreover, to fight the steady creep of political correctness, one must be direct.
After three years, at least we know who has TDS. At first, it was fresh shock after fresh shock to witness personal friends and beloved public figures melt down and froth at the mouth over Trump. There were some ugly surprises like Robert De Niro, some ruined careers like Kathy Griffin’s. The balloon in the skies over London.
1. Is Katie a Hill To Die On?
Examples of Trump Derangement Syndrome abound these days, but few are as purely emblematic of the phenomenon as the rise and fall of Rep. Katie Hill.
The facts: a congresswoman had sexual relations with a subordinate, which violates House Rule XXIII, clause 18 (a).
Normal response: apologize publicly to the subordinate and to constituents, resign.
What happened instead: Grotesque theater, emotional caterwauling, victimhood, grandstanding (and no apology).
The Katie Hill saga began with a RedState article two weeks ago. The entire tawdry affair, abbreviated:
- Hill, 32, while married to Kenny Heslep, 36, began a threesome with Hill’s staffer, Morgan Desjardins, 24, two years ago. Desjardins was fresh out of college.
- Hill left the three-way relationship in late May after moving to Washington, DC.
- Heslep filed for divorce in June after learning that Hill was cheating on him with Graham Kelly, Hill’s then-finance director. Hill denies the affair despite evidence to the contrary.
- Conservative media site RedState breaks the story on October 18th: bikini line tattoo of German Iron Cross, bong smoking, grooming her staffer, nude photos posted to wife-sharing websites.
- Mainstream media ignores the story for six days.
- Hill denies the relationship with Desjardins despite photo and text evidence.
- Hill passively admits culpability (and seeks unwarranted sympathy) by framing the leaks as “revenge porn” (despite lack of explicit sexual acts).
- Mainstream media gets involved, treats Hill as victim, ignores glaring #MeToo concerns.
- The House announces an ethics investigation into Hill’s actions.
- Hill announces her retirement, stating her fear that much more material exists.
- Evidence surfaces that Hill receives medication for manic tendencies and has a drinking problem.
- AOC of the “Squad” leans in and decries a “double standard” for women in politics, ignoring Anthony Weiner, Elliot Spitzer and others.
- Hill’s final act as a congresswoman is to vote for the Trump impeachment inquiry. She is lauded by Speaker Pelosi.
Let’s put this in plain terms. A married bisexual woman hires and proceeds to begin a three-way relationship with a 22 year-old female staffer and her husband. Once elected to the House, she moves to DC and begins a secretive affair with another male subordinate, all while routinely drinking till three in the morning and missing appointments. When she gets caught, it’s classic Dem playbook: flat-out denial, followed by unsubstantiated claims of abuse, exaggerating the leaks as revenge porn, leaning on mass media and lefty darling AOC to run sexism(!) interference claims, and despite pleas from constituents to “stay and fight,” she bows out to stop further leaks, but manages to make her last official act about hating Donald J. Trump.
That’s the state of the Democrat Party in a nutshell: behavior that breaks the very rules it codifies, lies and denial, bird dog media, all topped with a dollop of #OrangeManBad.
2. Kavanaugh Forever: A Teaspoon of TDS
Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh was trending on Twitter yesterday. Why? Because of a tearful lament from Canadian-American, longtime legal reporter, and yuge TDS sufferer Dahlia Lithwick of Slate.
There are beautifully written passages in the piece. It’s a shame that they are blatant lies, either of omission or bias presented as fact. To wit:
Of Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony, Lithwick writes that it was heartfelt and moving, “And then Kavanaugh came in and started screaming.” Was he a deeply respected judge who had been smeared for political reasons (Ford’s activist attorney Debra Katz admitted recently that the whole shebang was about abortion), and fighting for his reputation and career? No. The scary white male was “screaming.”
She recounts the story of her son texting her during the testimony, asking if she was going to be safe. Lithwick attempts to make hay out of this “my kid said” story, but if you recall, the only people acting like savages that day in DC were the unhinged Ford protesters (alleged by some to have been paid) who stormed into hearing rooms and chanted slogans. No one was intimidated by Kavanaugh supporters. But Lithwick interprets her son’s concern as fear for women’s safety. And because Kavanaugh was ultimately appointed, “…none of us, as women, was ever going to be perfectly safe again.”
As the poet once said, I hope eye-rolling counts as cardio.
Lithwick goes on to say that “Ford is still unable to resume her life or work for fear of death threats.” This “I’ve been getting death threats” claim has become as hollow as shouting “Racist!” every ten seconds. It doesn’t take Bill Belichick to spy that playbook. Words and ideas lose their power when applied improperly. Not one conservative wasted another single synaptic spark on the clearly deluded, politically motivated, play-acting, lie-detector-cheating gasbag Christine Blasey Ford once Brett Kavanaugh was sworn in as a Supreme Court justice.
You know who builds an alternate front door on their house? A crazy person. Many conservatives felt sorry for Ford despite her transparent ruse. She is clearly addled by something, a disease we are only beginning to fully understand. Ford may well be patient zero for TDS, but she is also plainly in need of help. Using a sick person to go after Kavanaugh says plenty about her handlers.
By the way, have you noticed the theme? “I can’t work because of Trump.” Katie Hill and Christine Blasey Ford both claim as much. You can add Lithwick to their afflicted ranks. She concludes her whinging paean to victimhood by claiming that she can’t even go back to covering the Supreme Court–can’t even set foot in its hallowed halls–because Kavanaugh lurks within (along with his all-female staff of clerks, a SCOTUS first, just as he had done on lower courts). Despite the embrace of Sonia Sotomayor and a ringing endorsement from Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Lithwick claims she can’t do her damn job because of TDS flares ups (emphasis added).
I haven’t been inside the Supreme Court since Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed. I’ve been waiting, chiefly in the hope that at some point I would get over it, as I am meant to do for the good of the courts, and the team, and the ineffable someday fifth vote which may occasionally come in exchange for enough bonhomie and good grace. There isn’t a lot of power in my failing to show up to do my job, but there is a teaspoon of power in refusing to normalize that which was simply wrong, and which continues to be wrong.–Slate.com
See? Not doing you job is powerful. Resist…your salary. That’ll show him.
3. The Left Can’t Laugh
The power of the meme has befuddled leftists for years. A word/phrase/sentence superimposed on an image to funny/ironic/devastating effect–it couldn’t be that hard, right? Yet the left is routinely lampooned for their inability to master this new political power tool, this distillate of truth: the meme.
Trump’s recent retweet of Conan (the dog who chased Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi) appearing to receive a medal exemplifies the left’s twitchy, humorless quandary. The angrier they get, the easier they are to ridicule. The more they sling over-the-top insults, the less those words come to signify.
What happens when the left hits back? Hillary Clinton’s infamous “basket of deplorables” line may well have cost her the election. Her careless utterance demonstrated such simplistic disdain for people who don’t share her open border/globalist views that it surely swayed a chunk of fence-sitting Independents.
It is that swollen balloon of pomposity that is popped by the lancet of the meme. Democrats have remade their party through virtue signaling, wokeness, and identity politics. These are fragile constructs, easily ridiculed through memes. Conversely, the new right is built on the opposite platform: saying things plainly, appealing to problems everyone understands, not esoterica. Thus, conservatism is harder to skewer.
There is one vulnerability to the plain-spoken approach: when one of its adherents makes a mistake, he is easily sent up as a bumpkin. For example: imagine if Pete Buttigieg, Bernie Sanders, or Elizabeth Warren made a spelling error in a tweet. No one would bother to comment or attack their intelligence, we would simply assume they, or the staff member doing the tweeting, had slipped.
Yet when Rudy Giuliani and Donald Trump commit the high crime of a typo, the left, deeply frustrated by getting endlessly dunked on in the meme wars, react with the fury of a grounded third-grader.
Tens of thousands of Twitter users vented their rage at Trump and Giuliani over…typos. Why? Because their TDS needs an outlet. When they spot something–anything that allows them to display their anger–they jump on it with childish glee.
4. What Does Terminal TDS Look Like?
In its most extreme, TDS isn’t silly at all. It’s insane, but it isn’t a laughing matter.
They’re out there. They’re not getting better. Expect the screeching to intensify as November of 2020 approaches.