Donald Trump is not a messiah, he’s a very naughty four-year-old boy – and that's how Hillary should treat him

The Donald knows he’s out of his depth and the unceasing spouting of embarrassing nonsense is a symptom of his distress

Matthew Norman
Sunday 07 August 2016 17:34
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Trump addresses supporters in Daytona Beach, Florida, last Tuesday
Trump addresses supporters in Daytona Beach, Florida, last Tuesday

Any attempt to penetrate what we will indulgently call “Donald Trump’s mind” ranks somewhere between a fool’s game and a metaphorical fitting for a jacket which does up from the back. You could suffer a breakdown trying to figure out the mental processes behind the torrents of vacuous drivel and casual cruelty that flow from the tangerine huckster’s mouth.

What drives a 70-year-old man to pick a fight with the parents of a Muslim-American war hero and a grouchy baby? Or to invite a hostile foreign power to hack and publish a rival’s emails? Or to spew out lies of such transparent mendacity – watching footage of a US plane landing in Tehran with a $400m (£305m) hostage ransom – that even in this post-objective truth age, they unravel in minutes.

Every pop psychologist has a theory. Some spray around such terms as “narcissistic personality disorder” and “sociopathy”, which we like using because they sound cool without neccessarily understanding them. Others wonder whether the intergalactic invader formally known as That Thing On His Head has damaged his cerebral vortex with some form of radiation sickness.

More technically-minded analysts posit that he is – and you’ll just have to forgive this lurch into baffling jargon – simply the biggest tool on the planet.

I, being kindly to a fault, eschew the sneery jibes in favour of empathy.

Not that it’s easy. There is, as mentioned above, the genuine threat that putting oneself in his position will provoke a breakdown. But people don’t refer to column writing as “the most dangerous game in the world” without reason. We unsung heroes of journalism are fearless.

And so, today, in a daredevil bid to fathom the mind of Donald Trump, we take a trip down memory lane to the London Palladium of Christmas 1967.

With Christopher Biggins freshly expelled from the Big Brother house, let us recall a distant era when pantomime stardom and national controversy were more unusual bedfellows. In that matinee performance, Danny La Rue, the grandest of all panto dames, was Widow Twankee. When he invited young volunteers to join him for a rendition of Do-Ray-Me, my four-year-old self couldn’t resist the chance to show off. I was propelled on to that famous stage by a bombast and bravado that survived intact until Danny shoved the microphone in my face, and trilled “Tea?”

It was at that point, when the correct response was “a drink with jam and bread!” that the bottom lip began to wobble, the voicebox was paralysed, and the eyes filled with tears.

As a nearby fairy picked me up, the audience in unison emitted an enormous, crushing “ahhhhh!” I was returned to my parents with nothing but a box of Lindt chocolate teddy bears for consolation.

Although the experience of running for the White House appears not to have paralysed the Trump larynx, could it be that the centre-stage spotlight which enticed him from afar is petrifying him in the same way? Is his unceasing spouting of embarrassing nonsense a symptom of distress?

Is stage fright, and its associated intimations of his massive inadequacy, leading him to sabotage his chances? Is his subconscious whispering to him that he is so staggeringly out of his depth that America would be incomparably safer, for all her faults, with Hillary Clinton? Does he yearn for the comfort of his family and a sugary treat?

What is in no doubt is that this would-be leader of the free world has a mental age, at most, of four. If there is one defining toddler trait, it is an obsession with bodily functions (the references to Megyn Kelly menstruating, and to Hillary taking a bathroom break during a debate, which he described as “disgusting”). You see characters like him in trolley seats hollering away in the confectionery aisle of Tesco, screechingly demanding why, given that the good people at Lindt have gone to the trouble of making them, his request for chocolate teddy bears is being denied.

Admittedly Trump’s reported questioning of national security advisers as to why, what with the US possessing them, he couldn’t use nuclear warheads is on a marginally different scale. Eating sweets before meals tends not to lead to an extinction level event. But, at a fundamental level, it’s the same thing.

Not only does he covet the shiny toy visible in the distance. Naturally enough, he wants to play with it. If that happens to mean cauterising Equatorial Guinea from the earth for no especially clear reason, well, what mischievous four-old-year considers the consequences when he gets hold of a box of non-safety matches?

Tempting as it is to assume from the latest national and swing state polls that Trump has destroyed himself already, Hillary still has work to do to spare us the nuclear option. Treating him less as a scary bogeyman than a distressed toddler, especially in the debates which seem likely to settle this race if he has the courtesy to show up, would strike the perfectly destructive tone.

Whether about their hands, genitals, experience, intellect, temperament and, in this case, liquid wealth, the one thing naughty boys of any age who think themselves the messiah cannot handle is being humiliatingly belittled.

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