The first debate is in the bag. There have been lots and lots of talking heads on the TV — Max Headroom? — talking their heads off about this or that about the debate. Really they have to fill airtime since we have 25-hours a day, eight-days a week, 4,000 fucking-days a year. Jebus please throw me out the window if I ever hear another light-weight political correspondent asking another know-nothing surrogate about the election!
How did Donald Trump do in last night’s debate?
I think he stood up for the American people against a mechanical blah blah blah
Do you think he won the debate?
Yes, he won the debate. He showed his passion blah goddamn blah clean my ears with battery acid but just make this stupidity stop!
What do you think that person is going to say? Why would you ask them that, especially when you’ve got someone else on stage who will spend the next century arguing and shouting. We are the United Fucking States of Fucking Stupid. We deserve what we get for watching this crap. Seriously, when I think that we’ve been endowed with the pinnacle of creation, the greatest most complex organ to ever evolve, the human brain, and used it to create the greatest most complex calculating communication machine, the computer and Interwebs, and we use it for CNN and Fox News? I despair. At least, I can create my own little dank dark well where I can be impressed by my own thoughts and witticisms and feel very pleased with myself.
But, the debate was very interesting and told us a lot about the candidates, something that we’ve written about here at the Psy of Life. So, let’s review each of the candidates’ performance. In this article, I’ll address Trump and in a separate post, I’ll cover Clinton.
Drowning in a Neurotic OCEAN
Trump’s personality is heavily dominated by the neuroticism from OCEAN. The neurotic personality trait is the tendency to bring emotionally volatile to most situations across the lifetime. Trump had said that he would blow Iranian boats out of the water because their sailors flipped our sailors off. During the debate, that mentality was on full display. He never got back on track after Clinton stating he got $14 million from his father to start his business. What is interesting is that, he never corrected the amount. He said, the loan was very small.
That level of neuroticism is dangerous in a Commander-in-Chief. It makes him easily manipulable — did you see Clinton play him? — and unable to make effective decisions. That alone should send voters away from him in droves. More on that later.
Taking the Executive and the Functioning out of Executive Functioning Skills
One of the few talking heads that I have enjoyed hearing from is Tony Schwartz, Trump’s co-author when he produced The Art of the Deal. One of the reasons is that Schwartz had a task to accomplish with Trump that Trump was invested in and that would take some consistent sustained effort. Trump had to be as invested in The Art of the Deal as he had to be in this debate. Considering that the race is neck-and-neck; that victory, for the first time, is possible for him; that this debate would have the largest audience of any debate we’ve ever had. How could he not have prepared as single goddamn thing?
Tony Schwartz talks about that Trump can’t even tolerate reading. He couldn’t get Trump to sit down and talk to him about his approach to business deals. He almost gave up on the project because Trump could not do his side of the work. It really speaks to Trump’s poor executive functioning skills.
Executive functioning is essentially your ability to plan and execute. It is your ability to organize and regulate yourself. What does Trump’s poor debate performance tell us about his executive functioning? He clearly could not plan much less execute a plan. He met with advisers to shoot the shit. That was as complex a plan as he could hatch. His self-regulation is awful, witness his neuroticism and how easily rattled he is.
I think, and this is just my opinion, based on the evidence available to me and knowledge that I have of mental health; obviously, it is not definitive and should be taken only as the pompous pontificating of a crusty old curmudgeon who has nothing better to do than try to pick up chicks with his impressive knowledge snark, sarcasm, and profanity (Don’t tell Ma Femme, she’d probably die laughing and we wouldn’t want that now would we?).
It is clear that when faced with the prospect of standing on a stage in front of 80 million viewers, squaring off with the most intelligent, best informed, and capable politician in the world, with the election in the balance, Trump crumbled. He could not take the pressure.
Trump enterprises or whatever he calls his business thingee now is essentially him lending his name to projects. That’s it. He gets paid for letting people use his name and they bring him to investor events. That takes zero planning. It takes zero organization. It takes zero self-regulation. In the best of circumstances, he could do what it took to hire a construction engineer to oversee a project and let them build a building for him. Early on when he was serious about being a big wig New York real estate developer that’s what he did. It proved to be real work and beyond his abilities, so he went to branding. That’s alarming.
Body Language Talks Volumes
Trump’s body language betrayed several emotions and reactions during the debate. CNN has had a variety of psychologists and other body language experts on their shows today helping to interpret the various expressions, gestures, movements, and postures that were displayed during the debate.
Sniffing and drinking water are indicative of anxiety and nervousness. During times of stressful anxiety, your throat gets dry and breathing shallow. People frequently do that loud inhaling thing under those circumstances. And, of course, Lil Marco drank water during his response to the State of the Union address, and Trump wouldn’t let him forget.
His relationship with his mic and podium was pretty obvious. He would lean down to the mic and lean heavily on the podium. He felt the need to be aggressive, lean into her and the audience. But, at the same time, he made himself small before her suggesting that he was subjugating himself to her. I’m sure that both were true at different times.
When the topic of his taxes came up, he started displaying fear. FEAR. Remember the TV show Lie to Me? Micro expressions are real and reliable if you can catch them. Micro expressions are very brief facial expressions, lasting only a fraction of a second betraying true feelings before they can be masked. Fear is expressed in part by opening the mouth and the lips are slightly tensed or stretched and drawn back. As Clinton is talking about his taxes, his mouth opens slightly and his lips are tense and drawn back. The question is, what is he afraid of? It can’t be just another demand for him to release his returns. I can’t be because he isn’t paying taxes because we already know that. He can’t be his charitable giving, which again, we already know. Not to speculate would be irresponsible, so please dream big and let me know about it in the comments! Let the accusations roll! The more outlandish, snarky, sarcasticky, and profaney the better! Go ahead give it a try. It is fun. You know you want to…
The End of the World as we Know It
The prospect of a Trump presidency is truly frightening. It is unbelievable that he has gotten this far and has a shot at winning. Hopefully his complete collapse will continue; his campaign will implode; and he will not win. I can’t think of a more incapable under prepared candidate for presidency, especially given the stakes of the world we live in — nuclear annihilation and drone-based carpet bombing. For the sake of humanity, we all need to do whatever it takes to elect Hillary Clinton. Otherwise, we are all very likely to die on the same day at some place in the not too distant future. Either that or end up with a President Mike Pence after Trump resigns following the inauguration which is the only part of the job he finds attractive.
Clinton’s Debate Strategy
The first presidential debate was surreal, wasn’t it? I still shake my head in amazement at how it went and how the follow up discussion of it is going. What are we talking about now? Fat shaming and the origins of birtherism and Trump’s taxes! Geez, you’d think we lived in an octopus’ garden by the sea with no other issues out there threatening us or needing serious consideration and work to solve. Instead of making a serious comparison of tax policy and the effects it will have on the economy, we’re bickering over Trump’s taxes. Instead of discussing how we can improve racial, gender, and social equality in our country, we’re discussing whether Trump really fat shamed and bullied a young woman twenty years ago. Instead of evaluating whether we have race problem in policing, we’re discussing whether questioning Obama’s religion and values in the year eight was the same as birtherism (it isn’t). As we continue down the path toward the United Fucking States of Fucking Stupid, we’re riding our wargs bickering and fighting over crumbling bridges spanning deadly rivers of lava trying to trick our fellow Americans into eating poisonous cupcakes and screaming Fuck you you fucking traitorous bastard at everyone who disagrees with us on the least little point or won’t eat that goddamn deadly cupcake. The end of that road is the United Fucking States of Fucking Stupid NIHILISM people! Wake up and smell the festering running pustules of our discord and turn the fuck around.
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