Donald Trump is a narcissistic chooch. So much so that you would think that he’d know when someone is taking him for a sucker by his seventh decade, but unfortunately love of self and smarts are mutually exclusive if we are to use the soon-to-be-not-president as our prime example.
One of the curious lessons he learned while snorting rails of Ritalin between classes at the Wharton School Of Business takes the form of a short parable. It’s his favorite bit of received wisdom; the story of the frog and the scorpion. In it, a Samaritan frog offers a scorpion a lift across the river. The scorpion promises not to sting the frog, because they’d both drown if he kills the frog. The frog, being unusually rational for an amphibian, decides it’s worth the risk. Halfway across, the scorpion stings the frog, and before they both die, the frog wants to know why he did that.
“Blame me not,” said the scorpion, in a supplicatory tone, “it is not my fault; it is that of my nature; it is a constitutional habit I have of stinging.”
We can only speculate on why this story attracts a common, brainless slug like Trump. Perhaps he thought it was a clever joke to tell people at gatherings, having dimly grasped the reason why the ending could be thought of as a punch line. Or does Trump think himself a scorpion? Possible, but unlikely as Trump is gifted with the ability to not reflect on himself and his base nature. Did he grasp the actual point-that some natures never change?
It’s a rather reductive way of looking at things. I don’t know. It’s not my dumb go-to parable. Maybe this is what passes for insightful in his pointy little head. I’m just enough of a romantic to believe that if we frogs stop giving the scorpions rides they’ll they die off while the frogs get together to form a Bellamite worker’s paradise on the other side of the river. That’s not as clever as the parable though. I abhor cynical shit like everyone taking advantage over everyone, a mere cut above other animals hard wired into brutish, nasty and short lives. That doesn’t have to be our future. Perhaps ultimately it’s a cautionary tale which gave birth to an adage that comes to us by way of Maya Angelou-“When people show you who they are, believe them.” I guess that’s still useful in these dark postmodern days but maybe the day will arrive when we don’t have a need for such a guarded stance. It had better come soon, because we are running out of time, to hear the climate scientists tell it.
But anyway, let’s talk a bit about irony. For the black-hearted among us, irony is a great source of entertainment even though people are being hurt by the providers of the irony. And there’s no one I can think of who has been more of an endless fount of it than your favorite president, Il Doofus. If you, like most, live through social media these days you’ve no doubt been introduced (unless you are an unreconstructed dumbshit who actually still supports Donald Trump at this late hour in the game) to that phenomena where old Trump tweets get compared to new Trump tweets so people can laugh about how they “didn’t age well”, meaning he has contradicted himself or staked out a position that an opponent of his held in the past, having criticized that person for the same behavior he exhibits today. In other words, all of it betrays a pathological lack of self-awareness or lack of a “center” so to speak on Donald’s part- what they called “dramatic irony” or “tragic irony” in school. He’s the worst kind of utilitarian; meaning he only uses concepts and ideals so long as they are personally useful to him.