Rotten apples fall especially close to their trees

President* Trump,

Was your hand too gross and sweaty for Melania to deign to hold it for the walk off the debate stage or is she really, terribly not into you these days? It’s been a while since I’ve seen a clip of her pulling away from you like that and last night’s retaliatory little shove in her back was new – and certainly didn’t look good. You’d better watch it – physical aggression towards one’s wife doesn’t play well in very many circles, even yours.

Seriously, can you two not get your shit together even for the few minutes when you desperately need to look like you have your all’s shit together? Was there no pre-debate heart-to-heart about a solid fake-it-til-you-make-it-off-stage effort? It sure looks from here like neither of you really want to win this thing, but if I had to say which of you wants to lose more, I’d have to say it’s probably Melania. She sure looks like she’s done with your ass. 

It’s a little bit surprising that she’s not willing to put on a reasonable show since she’s been as eager as the rest of your pack to profit off your presidency. Apparently, though, even her mercenary instincts have been swamped by her antipathy towards you. You could almost hear her hissing “don’t you touch me, you prick” or something like that. Ouch.

I actually winced for both of you when I first saw the clip, kind of like how I had an initial, if quite brief, surge of auto-concern when I heard you all had contracted COVID and again today when I saw the pictures of Mitch McConnell’s hands (OMG – he’s in bad shape). You know, that hardwired reaction that virtually all sentient beings have in response to another’s pain and suffering? Like when your partner is eating and you see that awful mid-chew pause right before their face crumples into a pain-mask and you can feel the same part of your own inner lip in sympathy? Right? Right?

Do you ever have that reaction to someone else’s pain? Have you ever? It’s so, so basic, but everything you’ve shown us telegraphs that this isn’t something your system does. If you ever had it, what happened? Were you ridiculed out of it? Or did you maybe watch Fred Jr. get belittled and humiliated for being “too sensitive”? Did Fred Sr. tell Fred Jr. that he needed to “man up and stop acting like a baby” or that he was being “a sissy” and that he was “crying like a little girl”? Did he beat the snot out of him for crying or recoiling sympathetically when someone else was hurt?

For many people, it’s not the shit that’s done directly to them that makes the most lasting impressions, it’s what they see done to their siblings that sticks with them. If I’m on the right track here, you would have learned from watching the hell Fred Jr. endured exactly what was forboden, what would seriously displease your Father, and since you’re such the genius, you would’ve cycled through the remaining behavior repertoires to figure out what would be reinforced, what would win favor.

He would probably be very proud of you if he were still alive. I can almost see him trying to stifle a chortle in response to your horseshit about doing more for Black Americans than any other president besides maybe Abraham Lincoln. Right? He’d be in the front row, probably in a wheelchair and maybe on oxygen (he’d be ancient now). He (unlike Melania) would be cognizant of the TV cameras so he wouldn’t want to guffaw or even chortle in unseemly ways when you lie in an especially brazen way. I bet, though, that we’d see him sit up a little bit straighter and we’d notice him looking around the crowd in a “hey, did you hear that? Did you hear my boy just pull that awesome whopper out of his ass and tell that Black moderator gal that he’s the least racist person in the room?” Ooph.

And if he was anything like how you turned out, he’d probably scan right past the horrified looks on most people’s faces and only register the other smug smirkers’ reactions. Rotten apples fall especially close to their trees, don’t they?

May we be safe from leaders incapable of basic empathy.
May we be willing to correct our mistakes and send them packing.
May we get once and for all that capacity for empathy and compassion is a strength.
May we accept that we are all connected.

Tracy Simpson

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