Observing with hopeful schadenfreude the spectacle of Donald Trump in a freefall of bottomless narcissistic injury from which he cannot regain his usual, albeit tenuous, footing in the real world, something became crystal clear to me today. During the past ten days, beginning on the first day of the Democratic National Convention, we’ve witnessed the real-life equivalent of the fictional 6 minute scene (because things move very fast in a Hollywood movie!) in Aaron Sorkin’s classic legal drama A Few Good Men, when military attorney Tom Cruise pokes and goads Jack Nicholson’s farbissiner, bellicose Marine corporal into a monumental, raging public meltdown: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Byh59Y46Q0Q
I’d been speculating for a few months now that it would take some brilliant stroke, most likely at one of the Fall debates, in order for Hillary & Co. to find the right tactic and moment to provoke the bull and expose to the world the full depth of Trump’s lack of decency, empathy and self-control—indeed, his dangerous madness. But it turns out that the Democrats were smart enough to figure out how to get the job done, ahead of schedule, by using the full four days of the DNC to maximum effect. As much as it was a show for the entire country, it was also a show for an audience of one-Trump himself. With 20:20 hindsight, it’s clear that they understood the cumulative effect of two dozen-plus charismatic, brilliant, heart-tugging, witty speakers, both high- and low-profile, mocking and poking at Trump’s coarseness, ignorance, lack of integrity, xenophobia, sexism, shoddy business practices, etc etc. This obviously produced in Trump an overpowering urge to repeatedly lash back at the “vicious “ attacks he had to endure, an urge to which he has spent nearly a week giving full and revolting expression, and doesn’t seem to be done yet.
Revisiting my hypothesis yesterday that Trump has long harbored a secret adoration of the screen machismo exuded by Jack Nicholson, I wouldn’t be at all surprised to learn that Trump identifies strongly not only with Nicholson’s Wolf, but with Nicholson’s Colonel Jessup as well. I’d further speculate that Trump’s main complaint with Sorkin’s film is that it ends wrong, with Cruise’s lawyer on top, instead of Nicholson’s, in their epic courtroom confrontation. Donald “Chicken Hawk” Trump, who can’t understand why he can’t use nuclear weapons when it feels right to him, must root every time for Nicholson’s rebuke of Cruise to result in a standing ovation from the entire courtroom, with Cruise being led off in chains and in disgrace.
But as I watched Nicholson’s Colonel Jessup being led off to the brig at the end of that scene, a final Hollywood scenario occurred to me—I imagined Donald Trump being led off to a locked psych ward in a straitjacket, his face contorted in anger, screaming incomprehensible obscenities, after losing the election by the biggest landslide in US history. I saw Jack Nicholson’s face yet again, as I recalled the frenzied chants of “Lock her up!” that occur at Trump rallies. And when Trump arrives at the door of the psych ward, the orderlies yell to the staff inside: “Here’s…..Donny!”: