Over the weekend, President Donald Trump addressed the Conservative Political Action Committee (CPAC), making multiple misleading claims about the economy, the wall and his tax cuts. According to the Washington Post, the speech contained 104 misleading claims, bringing his total number of false or fishy statements to roughly 9,014 over the course of his administration.
Raw Story spoke with Dr. Henry J. Friedman, M.D., Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, about why the President finds it so easy to lie and the unique dynamic he has with his base that lets him get away with it.
Friedman is a contributor to “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 27 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President,” edited by Bandy X. Lee, the expanded edition of which is to be released this month. He brings a psychoanalytic perspective to understand the totalitarian mindset, which presents a multifold threat to the world.
Tana Ganeva: According to one report, Trump’s CPAC speech contained 104 instances of lies. Why do you think the President finds it so easy to lie?
Dr. Henry J. Friedman: When facing an audience that responds to him with adulation, he is inclined to present his worst tendencies in excess because he knows it pleases his base if he is extremely opposed to established standards of truth and politeness.
Trump’s base love him for liberating them to hate illegal immigrants and indulge their hatred of social change, of same sex marriage or woman’s rights and the rise of African Americans as a powerful political and social presence in the United States. His stance against equality for disavowed minority groups is exactly what they find attractive in him. He liberates their worst inclinations and fights against those who want to see the best in humanity dominate our society.
Tana Ganeva: How is the President different in front of his supporters?
Dr. Henry J. Friedman: He is empowered by such an audience to state things he wants to believe in as facts, as truths. He flirts with open totalitarian positions because these please this particular audience who find his authoritarian positions compatible with what they desire in a leader.
His base prefers a leader who is authoritarian and ruthless about getting what he personally wants, as this often reflects their experience with parents, particularly fathers who insisted on obedience. Trump demands that the world operate as he wants it to be, not as it actually is. Authority isn’t authoritarianism, hence it is easy to confuse a strong leader who represents all of our citizens from an authoritarian leader who panders to the worst desires of some groups in terms of their destructive impulses directed at other less powerful citizens.
Tana Ganeva: Can you explain why the President still has such a fervent following, despite arguably breaking a lot of his campaign promises, such as having Mexico pay for a wall at the Southwest border?
Dr. Henry J. Friedman: They respond not to his campaign promises or even to his actual accomplishments, which may be against their actual interests, but because his grandiose paranoid character appeals to them.
He always is ready to attack anyone who opposes him. His enemies are constructed by him, but they are what many individuals personally do in their own relationships with those around them. What his followers want is his immoderate, rash and destructive “self directed against an enemy.”
His followers are pleased with his leadership because they believe in the dangers that he insists are present when in fact they are non-existent except in his paranoid thinking. A grandiose paranoid leader appeals to and preys upon the paranoid fears of the many citizens who constitute his base.
Tana Ganeva: How does your psychoanalytic background inform you about what is happening?
Dr. Henry J. Friedman: Absolutely, this kind of grandiose paranoid character is frequently encountered in our work with patients, but in a much attenuated form or only directed at those in the grandiose paranoid individual’s family or who are employed by him or her. Those of us who work with paranoid patients understand the insistent need to find an enemy, to see an exaggerated form of danger coming from the hated others who will damage you unless they are contained and ultimately destroyed either by deportation or simply being kept out of the country.
Tana Ganeva: How can mental health expertise help the nation?
Dr. Henry J. Friedman: By giving words and concepts from our work that help the public in putting words and concepts to the anxieties that they feel, without being able to label it in such a way that they understand why Trump must be opposed, not allow to do his “Hitler routine” and destroy the free press and any criticism of his behavior and desires.
The more Trump is able to destroy the free press by denouncing it as fake news, the more he will be able to keep the public uninformed and unable to oppose his draconian approach to anything or anyone who threatens his domination and control. We in mental health can see more clearly what others see, because we recognize it from our work in treating and evaluating those who are fearful and aggressive because they are filled with hatred and loathing of all who are different from them.
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‘We’re Not There Yet’: House Republican Hasn’t Seen Any Evidence to ‘Get Anywhere Near Impeachment’
Rep. Mike Lawler (R-NY) hasn’t seen anything worthy of impeachment dredged up by the House Republican investigations of President Joe Biden and his family.
The New York Republican, who recently ripped his GOP colleagues as a “clown show” over their failure to produce a government spending agreement, told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” that he’s dubious of the impeachment inquiry launched by House speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and suggested the process was being undertaken as revenge for Donald Trump’s two impeachments.
“Look, these investigations obviously started earlier this year in Oversight and Judiciary [and] they are continuing,” Lawler said. “As I have said repeatedly, we are not there yet with impeachment. There is a very high bar. It should not be political, it should not be tit-for-tat, and the facts and the evidence will determine what, if any steps are taken after this.”
At the end of the day, you know, a lot of this is semantics – it’s a continuation of the investigation,” the congressman added. “The ultimate question is whether or not the facts or evidence would bear out that Joe Biden somehow financially benefited from his son’s deals with Russian oligarchs, Ukrainian oligarchs, Iranian business folks and the Chinese. If that’s the case, the facts and evidence will show that, and if not, I don’t see how you get anywhere near impeachment.”
White House Mocks GOP With ‘Worst Person You Know’ Meme After Matt Gaetz Blames McCarthy for Shutdown
In a rare move the Biden White House on Wednesday mocked House Republicans with a popular internet meme to highlight remarks made by U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz that show how the Florida Republican is blaming the impending, likely shutdown of the federal government on Speaker Kevin McCarthy. Congressman Gaetz specifically says “We cannot blame Joe Biden” and “We cannot blame House Democrats” for it.
Gaetz, who did not vote to hand McCarthy the gavel back in January, for weeks has increasingly been targeting the House Speaker. Last week he threatened he would get McCarthy removed as Speaker, going as far as to say he was “out of compliance.” On Tuesday a reporter found a resolution with links to Gaetz declaring the Office of the Speaker “vacant” on a baby changing table in a House restroom.
Fox News’ Liz Elkind reported on Gaetz’s comments via social media, “MATT GAETZ pins shutdown on McCarthy: ‘We will have a government shutdown and it is absolutely Speaker McCarthy’s fault. We cannot blame Joe Biden for not having moved our individual spending bills. We cannot blame House Democrats. We can’t even blame Chuck Schumer in the Senate.”
The White House reposted them, and the “worst person” meme, known as the “Heartbreaking: The Worst Person You Know Just Made A Great Point.” The meme was published in 2018 by Clickhole. a satirical website.
The federal government will shut down in 10 days if Speaker McCarthy cannot pass legislation to keep the government funded after September 30. That legislation will need to be acceptable to the Senate, and President Joe Biden. House Republicans, intent on stripping funding for Ukraine, defunding Special Counsel Jack Smith’s investigations, along with the Dept. of Justice and FBI, are digging in their heels amid “chaos” and “infighting.” Some have called it a GOP “civil war.”
See the White House’s post below or at this link.
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) September 20, 2023
‘Brazen and Misguided’: Schumer Decimates Tuberville’s ‘Act of Desperation’ – and Threatens to Hold Senators in DC
Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer took strong action on Wednesday, slamming U.S. Senator Tommy Tuberville, vowing to get several officers in the U.S. Armed Forces confirmed to top posts, and threatening that if the Georgia Republican lawmaker who has blockaded well over 300 military promotions does not release his holds he will hold Senators in D.C. over the weekend.
“In an act of desperation, Sen. Tuberville is trying to use a procedural step to overcome his own holds,” Majority Leader Schumer wrote on social media Wednesday afternoon, before delivering a floor speech. “You read it right. His own holds.”
“He is trying to make himself the gatekeeper of which officers are promoted or languish,” Schumer added. “We can’t allow this to continue. We’re taking action.”
On the floor of the Senate he added: “We cannot allow Senator Tuberville to decide which of our dedicated and brave service members get promoted and which get to languish. Which military families are able to settle in their new posts, and which must remain in limbo. We cannot we should not allow that to be the case.”
“So I have just filed cloture on the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Commandant of the Marine Corps, and the Army Chief of Staff. These men should have already been confirmed. They should already be serving in their new positions,” Schumer said. “The Senate should not have to go through procedural hoops just to please one brazen and misguided senator.”
“But this is where we are. In the end, the Senate will overwhelmingly vote to overcome Senator Tuberville’s blockade of these three nominees by voting for cloture then the Senate will overwhelmingly vote to confirm them,” he vowed. “And these three honorable men will finally be able to assume their positions and the abortion policy that Senator Tuberville abhors will remain in place. Senator Tuberville will have accomplished nothing.”
It is rare for a Senate Leader to target one member of the body, and even more rare to do so by name, but Senator Tuberville’s blockade, which he began in February, has harmed military readiness, according to multiple top Pentagon officials and former officials.
Tuberville has said he has blocked at least 319 military promotions, which require Senate confirmation, in response to the Pentagon’s policy of reimbursing service members who need to travel out of state to obtain abortion health care services. Many GOP-majority states have imposed abortion bans, forcing out-of travel.
But Schumer’s reference to “gatekeeper,” and later, in his floor speech saying, “which of our dedicated and brave service members get promoted,” may also refer to Tuberville’s unprecedented personal attacks on individual officers awaiting promotion.
Last month the Georgia freshman Republican Senator targeted over 20 individual U.S. Military officers, promoting an attack on their remarks supporting diversity and equity programs, or even, in one case, blasting one officer for their “celebration” of the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Tuberville, who denied holding up hundreds of promotions is having a damaging effect on the military and morale, also has said he is blocking these promotions because the Biden administration is “woke.”
Recently, Tuberville told Bloomberg News each military officer’s promotion takes two hours of voting by the Senate, which could take them up individually despite his block. Tuberville falsely said voting on all the promotions would take “no time at all” to complete.
Watch Majority Leader Schumer below or at this link.
Majority Leader Schumer (D) says the Senate will vote on stalled military promotions individually:
“The Senate will overwhelmingly vote to confirm them … and the abortion policy that Sen. Tuberville abhors will remain in place. Sen. Tuberville will have accomplished nothing.” pic.twitter.com/zBxzcJrGkZ
— The Recount (@therecount) September 20, 2023
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