Tuesday, January 17, 2017


By Keith Shirey

In David Brook’s column in today’s New York Times he portrays Donald Trump as part of “carnival.”  To quickly explain what he means, “carnival” has roots going back centuries when, before Lent, the church allowed people to indulge in wild behavior, particularly drunkenness, extreme sexuality and attacks on the political structure of the day.

 The world was turned upside down:  The figure of the fool or clown was respected, and the nobility was openly satirized.  The world became topsy-turvy as the hierarchical structure of society was attacked.  It’s a time when fools come out to play.

As Brooks says, “Carnival culture was raw, lascivious and disgraceful, and it elevated a certain social type, the fool.”  This is Donald Trump, a class clown who disrupts the order of things.  He’s happy as long as he’s the center of attention.  “[Historically] Fools were rude and frequently unabashed liars. They were willing to make idiots of themselves,” writes Brooks.
Let’s turn to Jungian psychology as another way of understanding Donald Trump.  Thomas Patrick Lavin, PhD, and a Jungian psychologist in his essay “The Trump Phenomena” is quite helpful.  One kind of “trickster” is the fool.  But, above all Trump is a Trickster.   Lavin reminds us that the Trickster sells the impossible, the great illusion.  The Trickster is always a one-person show. He’s deceptive, a con man and an expert in assigning blame. Things are never his fault. He rarely says he is sorry, feels little guilt, and is not ashamed.”

So, Trump says, or has said, Obama is not a legitimate American, he will Make America Great Again, gives us Trump University which is not a university at all, but just a con, says “I’m the greatest job creator that God ever made, and says that Mexicans and Muslims are greatly to blame for America’s problems.    He never apologizes for anything, including grabbing women’s genitals.  He rarely tells the truth. 

He is the trickster/clown who upsets the order of things with his bromance with Putin, threat to destroy the NATO alliance, wondering if we have nuclear weapons why we don’t use them, appoints people to his staff and cabinet or are neo-fascists, white supremacists, without any experience in positions of the highest levels of government and often who would destroy the very agencies they would head.

 It’s impossible to know if his tweets are used to make public policy, mislead, confuse, are impulsive statements of the moment, or proclamations that he will denounce the same day.

It is carnival.  The world was turned upside down:  The figure of the fool or clown is respected, and our “nobility,” the intellectuals, men and women of honor and courage like John McCain, the Kahns, Congressman John Lewis, scholars, newspaper opinion writers, and people dedicated to public service are openly mocked and satirized.  The world has become topsy-turvy as the hierarchical structure of our society is attacked.  Donald Trump cannot name one passage from the Bible yet he professes to be a Christian.

 In a recent newspaper interview he could not name one person from history he views as a hero.   It’s a time when fools come out to play.  All has become topsy-turvy in a fact and reality free world where the jokester is king.

Who should be saying that the emperor has no clothes?  The White House Press Corps.  But look at their behavior at Trump’s most recent press conference.  Trump, the trickster clown came out to play and the press joined him in the dance.

They groveled before him, breathlessly waiting for scraps of news from the emperor sitting on his golden throne.  Of course when dozens of these “reporters” are jockeying for attention on the same few stories, there is little news.   And the press corps' eagerness to have off-the-record briefings with Trump or attend parties at his Mar-a-Lago shows them to be the sycophants they are.  They should have been wearing clown costumes at the rare press conference as Trump played them like a drum.  David Brooks wasn’t there.  Neither were real investigative journalists nor thoughtful opinion writers like Brook.

All is carnival unless we the people refuse to participate.  It’s time for a revolution against the clown show.  It’s time to say the trickster has no clothes.