Tuesday, April 14, 2020

What did Donald Trump do today?

He compared himself to a corrupt sadist famous for poor leadership.

Trump, who is no stranger to self-flattery, made an interesting choice in praising himself today:

He didn't say whether he meant the 1935 or 1962 version of the film, but neither fictional version of Bligh is the sort of person most people—even Trump—would want to be compared to. In the 1962 version, Bligh is not only portrayed as a paranoidsadistic egomaniac, but a thief as well. In that version, Bligh's insistence that his subordinate, Fletcher Christian (played by Marlon Brando), cover up his embezzlement of the ship's wealth that provokes his staff to turn against him

The real-life Bligh, who survived being cast adrift from the HMS Bounty to inspire another rebellion against him in Australia, doesn't come off much better.

Of course, Trump may simply have gotten confused while reaching out for some kind of authority figure to compare himself to—preferably one who got revenge against "subordinates." In Trump's case, that would be the nation's governors, who he falsely claimed yesterday he could overrule to "open the country." 

Forced to at least try to walk back that embarrassing overreach today, Trump declared today that he would "authorize" governors to cancel states of emergency and business closures. But later he turned that into a threat, saying that if governors didn't do a "good job" following his suggestions that he would "come down very hard" on their states.

State governors don't need Trump's permission to govern—which is just as well, since Trump was unwilling to take the political risk of issuing a national stay-at-home order himself.

Why does this matter?

  • Governors doing what the federal government can't or won't is not a "mutiny."
  • Seeing everything anyone does as an attack on you personally is not a sign of good mental health.