What I’ve read about him makes me no fan of George Conway or his worldview. He’s a corporate lawyer, for starters, an expert in “corporate ethics” — whatever that might be. Conway is an enthusiastic participant in Federalist Society galas who celebrated the appointment of the unimpeachable Boof Kavanaugh. He’s a partisan right wing Free Market conservative. That he is the husband of shameless alternative-fact spouter Kellyanne Conway, one of Trump’s most ardent loyalists, is not a fact (alternative or otherwise) in his favor, from my point of view.
Yet George Conway has long been publicly critical of the reality TV president’s regular excesses. I suspect a lot of Conway’s opposition has to do with the damage the volatile, conspiracy mongering Trump is doing to the right-wing brand. Hard to defend liberty from government tyranny when the front man for your cause is acting like an unhinged government tyrant.
Recently Conway wrote a long article for The Atlantic entitled “Unfit for Office” with the subtitle: Donald Trump’s narcissism makes it impossible for him to carry out the duties of the presidency in the way the Constitution requires. You can read it here.
I have to give it to the man, it is a very well-written, thorough and compelling case that states the obvious in painstaking detail, with hundreds of illustrations. As he points out at the start: you don’t need to be an orthopedist to know that when a man’s foot is violently twisted at a hideous angle to his body, a loud snap is heard and the afflicted man is writhing in agony, unable to sit up, his leg broken in a grotesquely unnatural position, that the guy has a serious medical problem. Same with the president’s clear pattern of lying, attacking, bragging, blaming, erratically changing course, compulsively doubling down.
Malignant Narcissist? Who knows. Trump is clearly unfit to be a corporate CEO, (this person is a fiduciary in Conway’s world), or even the manager of a Burger King, let alone the president of the United States. That much is pretty clear to the 60% of American voters who have never supported him.
Conway didn’t mention the murder and dismemberment of American resident journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the grisly hit ordered by Jared Kushner’s good buddy Mohammed bin Salman, or Trump’s nuanced embrace of the ever changing lies the Saudis kept spinning when the shocking story was front page news for a couple of weeks. If Trump had his way, the man who wrote these traitorous, treasonous, fake words would meet a similar fate, no question about it:
(4) Requires excessive admiration? Last Thanksgiving, Trump was asked what he was most thankful for. His answer: himself, of course. A number of years ago, he made a video for Forbes in which he interviewed two of his children. The interview topic: how great they thought Donald Trump was. When his own father died, in 1999, Trump gave one of the eulogies. As Alan Marcus, a former Trump adviser, recounted the story to Timothy O’Brien, he began “more or less like this: ‘I was in my Trump Tower apartment reading about how I was having the greatest year in my career in The New York Times when the security desk called to say my brother Robert was coming upstairs’”—an introductory line that provoked “‘an audible gasp’ from mourners stunned by Trump’s self-regard.” According to a Rolling Stone article, other eulogists spoke about the deceased, but Trump “used the time to talk about his own accomplishments and to make it clear that, in his mind, his father’s best achievement was producing him, Donald.” The author of a book about the Trump family described the funeral as one that “wasn’t about Fred Trump,” but rather “was an opportunity to do some brand burnishing by Donald, for Donald. Throughout his remarks, the first-person singular pronouns—I and me and mine—far outnumbered he and his. Even at his own father’s funeral, Donald Trump couldn’t cede the limelight.”
The (4) Conway refers to here is one of the nine diagnostic criteria for the most extreme form of narcissism. They are listed in the DSM (the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), the authoritative text that psychiatrists, psychologists and insurance companies use to determine who is clinically nuts and what exact shade of pathological nuttiness they suffer from.
I adopt this cute form because the DSM is far from a definitive masterwork of the healing arts, particularly in the tricky, mysterious, value-laden, fluid field of mental health disorders. In the first edition of the DSM (they are up to version 5 or 6) homosexuality, for example, was considered a mental disorder. It was listed in the DSM as a “sociopathic personality disturbance” for more than twenty years. Still, Trump’s nine for nine on the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual’s list for Malignant Narcissism is impressive. A clinician only needs five of the nine to make the case, write the code, prescribe the pharmaceutical, have the insurance company cut a check.
Conway makes the point that we don’t need a clinical diagnosis to see the problem with having somebody like this as the most powerful person in the country. Every day there are numerous examples of his unfitness for office. I guess, given the circumstances, Conway would prefer the more dignified Mike Pence as president. Pence may be a pious, rigid yet supremely ambitious conservative fanatic (with enormous talents as an ass-licking sycophant) placed in public position by the cynical Koch machine, (like Mike Pompeo and Mick Mulvaney), but at least he’s not an embarrassingly loud-mouthed imbecile who threatens to destroy the carefully cultivated, expensively promoted right wing brand. Conway:
The diagnostic criteria offer a useful framework for understanding the most remarkable features of Donald Trump’s personality, and of his presidency. (1) Exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements? (2) Preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance? (3) Believes that he or she is “special” and unique and should only associate with other special or high-status people? That’s Trump, to a T. As Trump himself might put it, he exaggerates accomplishments better than anyone. In July, he described himself in a tweet as “so great looking and smart, a true Stable Genius!” (Exclamation point his, of course.) That “stable genius” self-description is one that Trump has repeated over and over again—even though he has trouble with spelling, doesn’t know the difference between a hyphen and an apostrophe, doesn’t appear to understand fractions, needs basic geography lessons, speaks at the level of a fourth grader, and engages in “serial misuse of public language” and “cannot write sentences,” and even though members of his own administration have variously considered him to be a “moron,” an “idiot,” a “dope,” “dumb as shit,” and a person with the intelligence of a “kindergartener” or a “fifth or sixth grader” or an “11-year-old child.
If that’s not high treason, yo, what the fuck is? It’s fucking BullSHIT! SAD!!! Good thing Mr. Trump has Mr, Giuliani and Mr. Barr on speed dial for exactly this kind of traitorous treachery. USA! USA!!!
Read the article and tell me George Conway is wrong about Trump’s unfitness for the office he holds in his short-fingered, vulgar hands.