“However, Mr. Ullrich offers a fascinating Shakespearean parable about how the confluence of circumstance, chance, a ruthless individual and the willful blindness of others can transform a country — and, in Hitler’s case, lead to an unimaginable nightmare for the world.”
Earlier this week, the New York TImes’ Pulitzer Prize-winning critic Michiko Kakutani reviewed the first of a two-volume scholarly examination of Adolf Hitler — “Hitler: Ascent 1889 – 1939” — by the distinguished German historian and journalist, Volker Ullrich. If you missed this review, we recommend reading it. Now.
As you peruse Kakutani’s review, you might give thought to Mark Twain’s dictum,“ History doesn’t repeat itself, but it often rhymes,” and George Santayana’s axiom, “Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”
Now, to Kakutani’s review.
Now, to the American presidential election and the choice (sic) offered.
In five weeks from Tuesday, the country will hold an election fraught with as much consequence as any in its history, perhaps more.
That bears repeating: the country will hold an election fraught with as much consequence as any in its history, perhaps more.
This isn’t another of those ‘lesser of two evils’ elections. It isn’t a ‘Catch 22.’ And it isn’t ‘Morton’s Fork.’
This is ‘Hobson’s Choice.’
This judgment will come as no surprise to readers of TMR who have followed the arc of Donald Trump’s ill-considered, ill-tempered campaign from his opening gambit at Trump Tower in June 2015 right through to his current juvenile Twitter-tantrum about a former beauty queen.
Having observed behavior far beyond the forty-yard lines of American political campaigning, we take seriously the observations of multiple board-certified clinical psychologists and psychiatrists who have concluded that Trump presents with a narcissistic personality disorder, and for those who need a refresher on what this means, here’s the Mayo Clinic’s definition:
“Narcissistic personality disorder is one of several types of personality disorders. Personality disorders are conditions in which people have traits that cause them to feel and behave in socially distressing ways, limiting their ability to function in relationships and other areas of their life, such as work or school.
And from the American Psychological Association’s, DSM-5, the symptoms include — grandiose sense of self-importance; preoccupation with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love; belief that he or she is special and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people or institutions; need for excessive admiration; sense of entitlement; interpersonally exploitive behavior; lack of empathy; envy of others or a belief that others are envious of him or her; demonstration of arrogant and haughty behaviors or attitudes.
It’s important for voters to understand the distinction between a narcissist and person with a narcissistic personality disorder: it’s the difference between someone who has the capacity to control behavior when it counts and one who cannot. That incapacity is the single most salient characteristic of Donald Trump, and is the reason he keeps doubling down in situations like Monday night’s debate, the morning after, and the morning after the morning after. It’s the reason he’d rather Tweet than sleep.
He can’t help himself. And he surely can’t help us. But he could do great harm.
Fortunately for the republic, many ardent Republican and conservative individuals and organizations have understood the implications of Trump’s inveterate pathology.
When news organizations like the Arizona Republic, Dallas Morning News, Cincinnati Inquirer, USA Today, and others to follow, risk their customer base and revenue streams on political endorsements and recommendations that break with decades and decades of endorsement policy, you know something more than the standard ‘blood-sport’ tribal battles of American politics is at stake.
“There is only one serious candidate on the presidential ballot in November. We recommend Hillary Clinton.
“We don't come to this decision easily. This newspaper has not recommended a Democrat for the nation's highest office since before World War II — if you're counting, that's more than 75 years and nearly 20 elections.
“Resume vs. resume, judgment vs. judgment, this election is no contest.”
“The Enquirer has supported Republicans for president for almost a century – a tradition this editorial board doesn’t take lightly. But this is not a traditional race, and these are not traditional times. Our country needs calm, thoughtful leadership to deal with the challenges we face at home and abroad. We need a leader who will bring out the best in all Americans, not the worst.
“That’s why there is only one choice when we elect a president in November: Hillary Clinton.”
“Since The Arizona Republic began publication in 1890, we have never endorsed a Democrat over a Republican for president. Never. This reflects a deep philosophical appreciation for conservative ideals and Republican principles.
“This year is different.
“The 2016 Republican candidate is not conservative and he is not qualified.
“That’s why, for the first time in our history, The Arizona Republic will support a Democrat for president.
“The challenges the United States faces domestically and internationally demand a steady hand, a cool head and the ability to think carefully before acting.
“Hillary Clinton understands this. Donald Trump does not.
“Clinton has the temperament and experience to be president. Donald Trump does not.”
And from USA Today:
“In the 34-year history of USA TODAY, the Editorial Board has never taken sides in the presidential race. Instead, we’ve expressed opinions about the major issues and haven’t presumed to tell our readers, who have a variety of priorities and values, which choice is best for them. Because every presidential race is different, we revisit our no-endorsement policy every four years. We’ve never seen reason to alter our approach. Until now.
“This year, the choice isn’t between two capable major party nominees who happen to have significant ideological differences. This year, one of the candidates — Republican nominee Donald Trump — is, by unanimous consensus of the Editorial Board, unfit for the presidency.
“From the day he declared his candidacy 15 months ago through this week’s first presidential debate, Trump has demonstrated repeatedly that he lacks the temperament, knowledge, steadiness and honesty that America needs from its presidents.”
At this point, we could agree that ‘everything has been said, but not every one has said it.’ However, we should anticipate more editorial endorsement surprises for the Republican nominee, and continued erosion among the ranks of business, civic, political, and professional leaders who would otherwise be supporting the Republican and opposing the Democrat, and particularly Hillary Clinton.
Whether and to what extent that will influence the popular vote and the electoral college outcome is anyone’s guess. Ask the Brits who thought Brexit would fail. And ask any of the ‘serious’ candidates who encountered Donald Trump in the Republican primaries whether they thought he would prevail.
But if the past is prologue, we can expect ‘more of same’ from the man who got short-changed on the psychological assembly line — he got the ego and the id, but the superego is nowhere to be found.
And that takes us to an observation by Edmund Burke, the father of modern Conservatism:
“But what is liberty without wisdom, and without virtue? It is the greatest of all possible evils; for it is folly, vice, and madness, without tuition or restraint.”
Go with Hobson. Vote for Hillary Rodham Clinton.