Wall a tes­ta­ment to Trump nar­cis­sism

The Saratogian (Saratoga, NY) - - FRONT PAGE - Kath­leen Parker’s email ad­dress is kath­leen­[email protected] wash­post.com.

As The Wall dom­i­nated the week’s news, a piti­ful jux­ta­po­si­tion of two re­al­i­ties — one the hard truth, the other a lie — emerged to clar­ify the de­struc­tive­ness of the Amer­i­can pres­i­dent’s toxic nar­cis­sism.

Fed­eral work­ers fac­ing their first pay­day with­out a check were sell­ing their pos­ses­sions on so­cial me­dia so they could pay their bills. Pres­i­dent Trump told NBC News cor­re­spon­dent Kelly O’Don­nell that he can “re­late” to the un­paid work­ers.

The pres­i­dent added: “And I’m sure that the peo­ple that are on the re­ceiv­ing end will make ad­just­ments. They al­ways do. And they’ll make ad­just­ments. Peo­ple un­der­stand ex­actly what’s go­ing on. Many of those peo­ple that won’t be re­ceiv­ing a pay­check, many of those peo­ple agree 100 per­cent with what I’m do­ing.” No, no, no and no. That is, no, bil­lion­aires can’t re­late to peo­ple de­pen­dent on their next pay­check, un­less per­haps they be­came bil­lion­aires after first serv­ing time in the mid­dle class. Ob­vi­ously, this isn’t Trump’s ré­sumé. Though he says he made a for­tune, it surely helped to be­gin with a mul­ti­mil­lion-dol­lar starter loan from dear ol’ dad.

And, no, peo­ple won’t make ad­just­ments when they can’t. For the 4 out of 5 U.S. work­ers who live pay­check to pay­check, there aren’t many ways to ad­just.

Thirdly, no, they don’t un­der­stand what you’re do­ing be­cause it makes no sense. Trump’s purely ex­tor­tion­ist ma­neu­ver — hand over $5.7 bil­lion for a wall or I’ll fur­lough ev­ery­body — doesn’t make the U.S.-Mex­ico bor­der a “na­tional emer­gency,” as Trump has con­sid­ered declar­ing so he can ac­cess dis­as­ter funds for his wall.

Fi­nally, though some off-pay­roll folks may agree that bor­der se­cu­rity needs tight­en­ing and may even sup­port some sort of new bar­rier, the per­ti­nent ques­tion hasn’t been prop­erly posed: Would you still sup­port the wall if it meant that you’d in­def­i­nitely be un­em­ployed or con­tinue work­ing for no pay? Do I hear a You betcha? Didn’t think so.

Trump’s im­per­vi­ous­ness to oth­ers’ mis­for­tunes is by now leg­endary. What other pres­i­dent would toss rolls of paper tow­els to hur­ri­cane vic­tims? But then, nar­cis­sists see only their own suf­fer­ing, al­ways some­one else’s fault, and em­pa­thy is for schmucks.

The wall, mean­while, is sub­terfuge for his per­sonal ful­fill­ment. Once en­vi­sioned as a mas­sive con­crete wall with a “big, beau­ti­ful door” — per­haps a mon­u­ment to the Trump brand — it lately has mor­phed into a hodge­podge of found ob­jects: metal slats here, some cy­clone fenc­ing there, here a bit of steel — and over there, maybe, a bit of pa­pier-mâché.

The specter of the hyped-up, Cen­tral Amer­i­can car­a­van that kept hys­ter­ics busy with images of ter­ror­ists, rapists and body snatch­ers seemed to va­por­ize after the midterm elec­tions. Now that 2020 is up for grabs, The Wall Must Go Up.

Trump sup­port­ers do de­serve our sym­pa­thies. Though many dis­avow his be­hav­ior yet re­main com­mit­ted to a con­ser­va­tive Supreme Court, they’re stuck de­fy­ing logic and de­fend­ing the un­ten­able. The man they must pre­tend to love seems to loathe them. Ev­i­dence is abun­dant and clear in his cold­hearted shut­down. And we’ve seen that Trump will throw any­one un­der the bus to get his way. He hires and fires with all the wis­dom of, well, a re­al­ity-TV host. He pits coun­tries and al­lies against one an­other with the im­pul­sive­ness of a binge shop­per watch­ing QVC at mid­night.

Mean­while, facts rarely fur­row the pres­i­dent’s brow. Fact: The num­ber of il­le­gal im­mi­grants from Mex­ico has de­creased over the past decade by 1.5 mil­lion, says the Pew Re­search Cen­ter. Fact: The num­ber of il­le­gal im­mi­grants en­ter­ing the United States via Canada, nearly half of them Mex­i­can, has in­creased by 142 per­cent since 2017, ac­cord­ing to CBS News. For about $300, Mex­i­can cit­i­zens can fly to Toronto or Mon­treal with­out need of a visa and then rel­a­tively eas­ily sashay into the United States.

Would Trump shut down the gov­ern­ment for a north­ern wall?

Of course not. This is be­cause “Build the Wall” and “Mex­ico will pay for it” were cam­paign slo­gans cre­ated by a guy who never ex­pected to be­come pres­i­dent. Now that he faces pos­si­ble re­jec­tion, the wall has be­come a metaphor for his iden­tity, his very be­ing­ness. To fail would be to suf­fer nar­cis­sis­tic in­jury, which, given Trump’s im­ma­tu­rity and predilec­tion to punch back, could lead to a real na­tional cri­sis. As he said, he’d be proud to shut down the gov­ern­ment — and keep it shut down for months or years if need be.

All for that stupid wall.

Kath­leen Parker Colum­nist

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