Culture Wars/Current Controversies

He Is What He Always Was

An anatomy of a tyrant’s degeneracy

(Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)

The term they came up with was Trump Derangement Syndrome, or TDS. We were all hyper-ventilating. Or they’d mock us as bots yelling “Orange Man Bad” in mindless unison. They minimized all the madness as “mean tweets.” They affected an ironic distance, telling us we were being trolled, or taking Trump “literally” rather than “seriously” — whatever the hell that meant. I remember the scoffs and eye-rolls as a handful of us predicted, from the very start, that Trump would never concede power if he lost re-election, and were told we had lost our marbles. He was never a real threat to democracy, they assured us. The word “tyrant” was absurd hyperbole. Calm down.

And it would be convenient if all these self-serving blandishments were true and we could now move on, and forget about it all. But they were never true. They were always cope. Trump was and remains the greatest threat to American democracy in the White House in its history. And we are now seeing more clearly what would have happened if Trump had won a second term, as the arc of his deranged psyche has evolved as it always does with a tyrant, into greater and greater extremes, deeper and deeper insanity.

Since 2020, Trump has embraced Q-Anon, intoning speeches to its creepy background music and amplifying its insane theories on Truth Social. Last week he invited a Pizzagate conspiracist and her cronies to Mar-A-Lago, telling the assembled throng: “You are incredible people, you are doing unbelievable work and we just appreciate you being here and we hope you’re going to be back.”

Two days before Thanksgiving, Trump hosted Kanye West for dinner at Mar-A-Lago, well after West’s descent into pathological Jew-hatred, alongside one of the most repellent far-right creatures ever to crawl from under a rock, Nick Fuentes. That same week, Trump trashed the Supreme Court Justices he and the Senate appointed:


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