Trump, His Defense and the Joke

Beyond being a legalistic recourse, to speak of free expression and the First Amendment in the case of Trump is nothing but a joke.

By Alejandro Armengol (Cubaencuentro)

HAVANA TIMES – The argument that Trump’s lawyers have seized on – and that certain back porch “analysts” have enthusiastically seconded – is that the best justification for the ex-president’s actions on January 6,2021 is to affirm that he’s crazy.

Of course, they don’t say this in a clear way. They restrict themselves to the argument that Trump firmly believed he had won the elections, that the sycophants around him repeated it back to him – no matter how “learned” or “illiterate” they were – and that he limited himself to suggesting, imagining and dreaming.

Everything indicates the opposite – that he had lost, but was living in his artificial Diet Coke paradise.

The justification that he was living in a dream, now arises as cover for a new way of extolling madness.

The path of the crazed

There are two very well-known situations where people take the crazy route. The first is that of criminals, who try to appear, or really are, deranged. They argue, or demonstrate, that they were “out of their heads,” at the moment of committing their crimes. Beyond the movies or some adolescent chatter, pretending to be crazy in order to avoid legal punishment is neither an easy nor a good solution. Those who attempt it, or dream about trying it, don’t know what it means to languish in a prison for the criminally insane with a trial date that’s totally undefined, for a period that extends for years, until it can be proven that the accused is mentally capable of facing a trial.

During Trump’s mandate in power, he was suspected of using the other path for pleading madness, especially as concerned his foreign policy. The basic premise of the “madman theory,” consists in presenting yourself to your enemies as someone extremely unpredictable, willing to go into full combat, in order to dissuade them from actions that could then prove to be against their own self-interest. 

The first US president who was said to make use of the “madman theory” was Richard Nixon (1969 – 1974), supposedly to intimidate the Soviet Union and North Korea.

H.R. Haldeman, who was Nixon’s Cabinet Head, wrote that [Nixon] spoke to him about that theory and told him he wanted the North Vietnamese to think that he “was capable of anything” to stop the Vietnam War, and for them to remember that he had his hands on “the nuclear button.”

When he was head of government, Trump took it on himself to stress the fact that he controlled that same button, in his threats of “fire and fury” that his own government would later describe as spontaneous.

Freedom of Expression

Hence, we arrive at a repeated justification for Trump’s actions: they’re spontaneous, he believes in them, he considers them appropriate.

It doesn’t matter how out of line they may be, there’s always someone who – for a high position or for money – tries to justify them. Clearly, in a legal trial the millionaire lawyers aren’t going to risk touching on the topic of insanity but will seek a more “constitutional” argument: freedom of expression.

That argument is legally weak, but it’s enough to satisfy Trump’s base. It asserts that Trump really believed he had won the elections, and that the others had committed fraud. Of course, anyone can believe that the earth is flat, you have that right. However, no one would put in such a believer’s hands an airplane with three hundred passengers, a spaceship or even a simple little boat. Nonetheless, through the virtues of democracy, that same person can aspire to become president in the United States.

Hence, the main problem goes beyond a trial, or five trials. As far as each U.S. citizen goes, it’s limited to a very simple matter: Donald Trump isn’t qualified to govern this country.

It may seem difficult for some to assimilate, while others may see it as an outrage, but the simple answer we’ve known repeatedly for some time back: the majority of the US population don’t want Trump to be president. He’s never won the popular vote – his only ballot box victory was a fluke and from there on, he’s only accumulated electoral disasters. If he were a movie actor, they would have stopped casting him a long time ago.

Naturally, there’s another side of the coin that can be seen every day, and that’s the identification of a sector of the population with Trump, and their approval of his figure as a kind of repudiation of the national elites. Here, though, politics merges with psychology. A preference for Trump on the part of a group or class can be understood. But that’s the same thing as the fact that US intellectuals – you can put that in quotes at your discretion – for years favored the movies of Woody Allen, or the French at one time the films of Jerry Lewis. It’s a matter of stereotypes, identification, and rejection.

Beyond a legalistic recourse, to speak about freedom of expression and the First Amendment in the case of Trump is nothing more than a joke by Woody Allen or Jerry Lewis. And it certainly never reaches the level of the Marx brothers.

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