Skip to main content

Trump: Three Unsayable Things

Image result for Planned Parenthood

A few words about Donald Trump. Yes, I despise him, and I think his advance toward the nomination has been a thoroughly depressing spectacle. But that's not what I'm going to say today.

Instead, it is this: Trump has spoken thoughts that have long been unspeakable in Republican circles. For example, he has offered some kind words for the work of Planned Parenthood. How shocking! He very heavily qualifies those words as soon as they come out of his mouth, but he says them. 

Also, Trump has said that we as a nation were bamboozled into a war with Iraq by lies (or falsehoods when he's being polite) about weapons of mass destruction. Nobody else is saying that, in either party really. Yes, Sanders criticizes Mrs Clinton's hawkish votes as Senator, but he has left the WMD thing in the memory hole. I'm glad somebody has pulled it out of there. 

One more: Trump suggests that the US can and should play a mediator's/deal-makers role in the Israel/Palestinian conflict. The fact that everyone else on the stage with him tends to react with horror when he says this demonstrates the urgency thereof. The US played such a role in the distant era of the Camp David Accords, and it isn't inconceivable it could happen again. It certainly seems a healthier sort of public discussion than one focused on how hawkish we can be on Israel's behalf.

Since there's no longer a Bush in the race, Trump hasn't lately felt the need to say the second of those unsayable things. Yet the first and third still arise. 

So perhaps (assuming he doesn't become President! still a horrible thought!) the Trump campaign will be seen as a hygienic thing, the way certain long unacceptable ideas become sayable.   


  1. A law professor discusses the psychological reason that this "hygienic thing" makes Trump popular:

    A lot of what I am seeing in the public's response to Trump -- in addition to the counterpoint between White Supremacy and economic populism -- is a response to a smart, highly charismatic sociopath. People resonate to Trump's outrageous behavior not primarily because they have a deep commitment to the misogyny or the racism that he exhibits (though that may well be true in many cases), but because they see him acting in a completely unrestrained fashion and getting away with it -- indeed, having people give him huge affirmation for doing so -- and seeing that spectacle touches on some of their deepest and most unacknowledged fantasies. People who resonate with Trump have daydreamed about being able to be as unrestrained and uninhibited as they see Trump being, but they never thought it was possible to do that and also be a successful adult. In Trump, they see that fantasy realized, and they want to make themselves a part of it.

    For some of them, the misogyny and the racism is just a secondary detail, perhaps even one that they find distasteful but that they are willing to accept as part of the deal in order to satisfy the long-held desire to feel unrestrained by adult limitations. For others, the misogyny and racism are mutually reinforcing, because they have also wanted to indulge those particular ideas but have felt unable to do so openly because of social disapprobation. In both cases, they want to feel the way that they imagine that Trump feels when he behaves this way -- like grown-up infants who can give full expression to the impulses of their minds and their bodies while also enjoying the trappings of a successful adult life.

    [The above is an excerpt from]


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

England as a Raft?

In a lecture delivered in 1880, William James asked rhetorically, "Would England ... be the drifting raft she is now in European affairs if a Frederic the Great had inherited her throne instead of a Victoria, and if Messrs Bentham, Mill, Cobden, and Bright had all been born in Prussia?"

Beneath that, in a collection of such lectures later published under James' direction, was placed the footnote, "The reader will remember when this was written."

The suggestion of the bit about Bentham, Mill, etc. is that the utilitarians as a school helped render England ineffective as a European power, a drifting raft.

The footnote was added in 1897. So either James is suggesting that the baleful influence of Bentham, Mill etc wore off in the meantime or that he had over-estimated it.

Let's unpack this a bit.  What was happening in the period before 1880 that made England seem a drifting raft in European affairs, to a friendly though foreign observer (to the older brother…

Cancer Breakthrough

Hopeful news in recent days about an old and dear desideratum: a cure for cancer. Or at least for a cancer, and a nasty one at that.

The news comes about because investors in GlaxoSmithKline are greedy for profits, and has already inspired a bit of deregulation to boot. 

The FDA has paved the road for a speedy review of a new BCMA drug for multiple myeloma, essentially cancer of the bone marrow. This means that the US govt has removed some of the hurdles that would otherwise (by decision of the same govt) face a company trying to proceed with these trials expeditiously. 

This has been done because the Phase I clinical trial results have been very promising. The report I've seen indicates that details of these results will be shared with the world on Dec. 11 at the annual meeting of the American Society of Hematology. 

The European Medicines Agency has also given priority treatment to the drug in question. 

GSK's website identifies the drug at issue as "GSK2857916," althou…

Francesco Orsi

I thought briefly that I had found a contemporary philosopher whose views on ethics and meta-ethics checked all four key boxes. An ally all down the line.

The four, as regular readers of this blog may remember, are: cognitivism, intuitionism, consequentialism, pluralism. These represent the views that, respectively: some ethical judgments constitute knowledge; one important source for this knowledge consists of quasi-sensory non-inferential primary recognitions ("intuitions"); the right is logically dependent upon the good; and there exists an irreducible plurality of good.

Francesco Orsi seemed to believe all of these propositions. Here's his website and a link to one relevant paper:

What was better: Orsi is a young man. Born in 1980. A damned child! Has no memories of the age of disco!

So I emailed him asking if I was right that he believed all of those things. His answer: three out of …