Is There Anybody More Shameless than Trump?

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Trump hugs the flag at CPAC

W.J. Astore

Trump’s “superpower” is his utter shamelessness.

He’ll tweet lies and conspiracy theories about Martin Gugino,  a 75-year-old activist who was shoved to the ground and sent to the emergency room by Buffalo cops.  He’ll shamelessly use both the Bible and the flag as props.  He infamously teargassed peaceful protesters so he could pose with a Bible in Washington, D.C.  Trump, of course, knows nothing about said Bible; when asked, he couldn’t name a single passage from it, nor did he seem to know the difference between the Old and New Testaments.  No matter — Trump knows a useful prop when he sees one.

When the Bible fails to impress, it’s back to the flag again.  Trump is reviving the whole kneeling dispute in the NFL, when Colin Kaepernick and other black players took a knee in protest against police brutality.  Allegedly finding this “disrespectful,” Trump hugs Old Glory to his body while grinning like the cat who swallowed the canary.

For a refreshing dose of reality, I was watching George Carlin and he reminded me politicians have three favorite theatrical props: the Bible, the flag, and children.  Trump is two for three; when will he start arguing that he should be reelected to save the children?

There’s a breathtaking shamelessness to Trump.  It comes with his all-consuming ego and astonishing narcissism, but it’s more than that — Trump enjoys tapping into his shamelessness so as to inflame his base and further divide America.

Meanwhile, the Republican Party empowers him because they find him both intimidating and tractable.  Trump intimidates because he can fire-up his cult-like base against any Republican with a single tweet; Trump is tractable because he largely does the bidding of corporate elites and financial powerbrokers.  They may not like Trump’s egotism and vulgarity, but they sure do like all the money flowing upward to them.

This dynamic reminded me of a line from the Bob Seger song, “Night Moves“: I used her, she used me, but neither one cared/we were gettin’ our share.  But even those who are getting their share should be wary of Trump: his utter shamelessness means he has very little to lose.

39 thoughts on “Is There Anybody More Shameless than Trump?

  1. None of this is exactly “news,” Bill. The real issue is: why do as many as 40% of our fellow citizens SUPPORT this abhorrent, despicable beyond my ability to describe verbally individual? I am forced to argue it’s the ingrained racism which some foolish people thought we’d left behind (“post-racial America”! Yeah, sure!). This is why people are saying publicly “The White Community needs to work to resolve its racial hangups. Black folks cannot do it for you!”

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    1. Oh, I know it’s not exactly news, Greg. But every now and then I have to remind myself how shameless Trump truly is, because his nature and behavior are foreign to me.

      A tiny example: whereas I tend to understate and speak carefully, Trump will always, always overstate and speak carelessly. His favorite words are “tremendous,” “perfect,” “beautiful,” and the like. He’s just a shameless salesman, where the main product he’s selling is himself.

      Interestingly, I wonder if Trump knows he’s a racist. I don’t think he does. I think he uses racist tropes, racist symbols, and takes racist positions because they’re expedient, i.e. they work — they get his followers behind him. I’m not sure he believes what he says — he just says what will win him the most fervid support. BTW, this is an explanation — not an excuse!

      In a different reality, I could see Trump as an NFL owner, or a true NY bigshot, but the other NFL owners shut him out, and the old money elites in NYC always saw him as vulgar and beneath their notice. So Trump gravitated toward the crowd that embraced him (once he hit on racism as a way, among others, of winning them over).

      I’m not sure what’s in his heart — or whether he even has one, meaning a conscience, meaning compassion. He just seems bereft of both. As many have said, there’s no empathy there.

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      1. In Trump’s case, we may be forced to resort to the infamous phrase “There’s no THERE there!!” It appears he’s been taking his guidance for some time now on how to play the politics game from Mr. Sean Hannity of Fox “News.” Trump wants us to believe “I don’t have a racist bone in my body.” But do we not know all too well his track record on truth-telling? Can anyone really be so naive as to embrace the Confederate Flag, the KKK (“indirectly”), etc. and be unaware of the significance of such statements? I think not. We have a mentally deranged Fascist in the Presidency and he has a damn good chance of getting another four years to wreak havoc in the world.

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        1. Yeah, well, that’s what I paraphrased as not a racist bone in his body. It was/is a preposterous lie no matter the exact words he chooses.

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  2. “Is there anybody more shameless than Trump?”

    Sinclair Lewis usually gets credit for saying that “When Fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross.” I wonder what he would say at the sight of President Trump wrapping himself around the flag or holding a Bible upside down in front of a church whose services he has never attended.

    Of course, with Trump’s “opposition” (Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi, and Chuck Schumer) kneeling for the cameras while wearing masks and keeping a virus-mandated social distance, it may prove impossible to decide which of America’s two right-wing political factions most deserve the utterly shameless “Dog-Whistle/Visual-Rhetoric” award.

    Meanwhile, some musical memories of a similar time of oppressive status quo vs generational unrest:

    For What It’s Worth (1967)

    and

    Hurricane (1975)

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    1. The Australian lady-blogger Caitlin Johnstone does her usual excellent job of deconstructing “elite” American propaganda narratives, two of which now dominate (by design) political sub-universes carefully constructed so as to make fighting among them normal and communication between them impossible:

      (1) The Democratic Party Exists To Co-Opt And Kill Authentic Change Movements (June 9, 2020)

      and

      (2) Police, Protests, And Human Transformation: Notes From The Edge Of The Narrative Matrix (June 10, 2020)

      One of my favorite quotes from (1):

      “. . . the entire role of the Democratic Party: To enthusiastically agree with American support for movements calling for real changes which benefit ordinary people, while making no actual moves to provide such changes. The actors read the lines, but remain motionless. . . . Barack Obama made a whole political career out of this. . . . give a moving speech, and then nothing would happen.}

      One of my favorite quotes from (2):

      “Without the police you’d have vigilantism!”

      “Vigilantism? You mean like when a band of armed thugs inflict extrajudicial violence upon someone who pissed them off? Like the police do constantly?”

      The hyper-militarized American police do not object to vigilantism, as long as The Corporate State grants them a monopoly license to practice it exclusively.

      Also:

      “Right wingers seem completely incapable of distinguishing between the ideology that’s all about holding massive demonstrations with the goal of dismantling the police and the ideology that’s all about kneeling in front of cameras wearing Kente cloth. This makes cross-ideological communication nearly impossible, about this subject and many others as well.”

      As I interpret the above quote, one must first understand that the term “right wingers” applies to “leading Democratic Party officials” like Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi, and Chuck Schumer as well as Republican ones like Donald Trump, Mike Pence, and Mitch McConnell. These people disagree about practically nothing when it comes to serving the Transnational Corporate Oligarchy, but they do agree about how to stage a phony Culture-War/Virtue-Signalling puppet show so as to give off the visual impression of a cable-tv “wrestling” match. The only problem for them now seems to involve the inept employment of knee-jerk, lizard-language symbols like “saluting” and “kneeling” which both traditionally imply voluntary — if not enthusiastic — subservience. Tough sell to genuflect, kowtow, and bow to various “authorities” while simultaneously demanding more “freedom” from the same master with different names.

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      1. Speaking of Caitlin, another strong article by her:

        “For ages the Democratic Party and its allies have been actively manipulating leftwardly-inclined Americans away from issues which might inconvenience the powerful–issues like economic justice, anti-imperialism, slashing the military budget, ending government surveillance and police militarization, and actually getting money out of politics. Instead they’ve been encouraged to only care about issues which establishment power structures don’t care about–issues like abortion, misogyny, LGBT rights, gun control, and racism.

        The powerful do not care if you have an abortion. They do not care how many bullets your gun can hold, they do not care if two guys get married or what gender pronouns you use, and they do not care if everyone is a racist or if no one is. They care about maintaining and expanding their ability to exert control over other people. If they can use prejudice or the threat of revoking rights to advance those agendas then they will certainly use them, but beyond that, they do not care.”

        https://caitlinjohnstone.com/2020/06/11/humans-are-escaping-from-the-abusive-relationship-with-the-police-state/

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        1. I continue to marvel at the phenomenon of serious discussion of “defunding or dismantling” police departments. This can only happen in a society where class consciousness has been virtually expunged from the collective mind.

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  3. Addendum: Hell’s bells, why doesn’t Trump just appoint Sean Hannity as his official Top Advisor?…Oh, wait. Wouldn’t want to hurt Jared Kushner’s feelings, I guess.

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  4. “We are a symbol-using class of life, and those who rule the symbols rule us.” – Alfred Korzybski

    Or, expressed differently:

    Boobie Sub-Cognitive Symbolic Stimulus-Response

    White Boobies knelt to signify
    Their “solidarity”
    With “blacks” who swore they’d had enough
    Police Brutality.
    Some shameless politicians saw,
    And promptly “took a knee.”

    But Boobie soldiers, cops, and guards
    Saw “disobedience,”
    Which they had sworn not to indulge
    Or tolerate, so hence:
    Their first instinct required that they
    Respond with violence.

    They suited up like Robocop,
    Enforcement Droids berserk,
    Intent on quelling protest that
    Their inbred culture took
    As disrespect of Power and
    The Wealth for which they “work.”

    To “dominate the battle space”
    Some clueless Boobie said
    Required that cops beat protesters
    And club them in the head.
    And “tough shit” if, because of that,
    they wind up maimed or dead.

    You see, the cops sense “danger” when
    Confronted by a sign
    Or chanted slogan (unapproved)
    Which they take as malign;
    Projecting their own fear and hate
    On those they see as swine.

    Two Boobie sub-cults have emerged
    Each moved by different sights
    One finds a symbol “racist” while
    The other sees their “Rights”
    To own a gun and slave because
    Such things belong to “Whites.”

    The centuries roll on but still
    The Boobies stay the same.
    They can’t abide that “others” might
    Fight back and win the game
    By using symbols to defeat
    A lie worn-out and lame.

    Michael Murry, “The Misfortune Teller,” Copyright © 2020

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    1. From Michael Tracey’s Twitter feed @mtracey: “The obsession with forcibly removing statues and other historical markers is proof that these activists conceive of politics primarily through the lens of symbolism and gesture.”

      Pure “Boobie-ism” on display, not just in the United States, but in significant cities of the “Western” world, as well. The Transnational Corporate Oligarchy has reduced many former examples of the nation-state to little more than consumer marketing territories and population containment zones. What the massed gatherings hope to achieve by all the herd-approved physical postures and imitative chanting of simple slogans has not yet come into cognitive focus. Drastically downsizing the exorbitant police, prison, and military budgets would seem like a good start, but only if the massed numbers of angry citizens can force their governments to adopt real policies in response to concrete demands.

      See: Defund the Police? Let’s Defund the Military! by Medea Benjamin and Nicolas J. S. Davies, antiwar.com (June 10, 2020)

      Rise like lions after slumber
      In unvanquishable number.
      Shake your chains to earth like dew
      Which in sleep had fallen on you.
      You are many. They are few.
      — Percy Shelley, The Mask of Anarchy

      Make the numbers mean something more than emotional venting.

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  5. The list is long! Trump is way down on the Shameless Scale. His level of shamelessness is a breath of fresh air compared to the likes of the Democratic Party, the MSM, Academia, Hollywood, the Swamp, etc. It is almost playful : ) compared to the institutionalized shamelessness that he is working against. I always liked “Night Moves” by the way (1976…a good year). There is another line in that song: “Felt the lightning, and waited on the thunder…” Trump’s election in ’16 was the lightning; the thunder is coming in Nov.

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    1. Tom O — Congratulations on finding shamelessness a good thing! I do agree with you, however, that Trump’s chance of being re-elected is very strong indeed. His campaign is apparently panicked by latest opinion polls (demanding CNN apologize for showing polling results with Biden in the lead). How could they have forgotten that Hillary was given a 96% “guarantee” of being elected in 2016?!?

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      1. Shamelessness is not a good thing, but less of it is better than noxious mounds of it.
        Honor is the best thing. No honor, no shame.

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        1. The problem many of us see with Trump is that he has no sense of concepts like honor, shame, personal wrongdoing, empathy for others. Personally, I have detected ZERO honor in his conduct thus far. (Yes, of course, a very subjective matter.) Inside Donald’s own reality bubble, he can do no wrong. I am still waiting to see him do a little bit of good in the world. If he was just Private Citizen Trump, his conduct would affect relatively few people. Unfortunately he occupies “the most powerful” office in the world, surrounded by devoted sycophants and assorted arse-kissers who provide him a Teflon coating far thicker than Reagan’s was. His newest stunt is to try to emasculate the International Court of Justice at The Hague. This man knows nothing of history, jurisprudence, or pretty well any other area of knowledge you’d care to raise. But he inches closer by the day to matching the definition of Tyrant. This country was supposedly founded as a rebuff of the very concept of tyranny. Perhaps we’ve come full circle?

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          1. Good thoughts. I hope we come full circle on a minimum set of shared values, and a sense of honor. To keep us out of trouble, and on the straight and narrow.

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    2. TomO: Trump’s utter shamelessness was amusing when he was on “The Apprentice”; it’s not amusing when he’s supposedly leading the country. Wrapping himself in the flag, holding the Bible (upside down, I might add), turning a victim (a concussed 75-year-old activist) into a villain: Trump will do the most shameless things to hold on to power. And it’s all in service of his colossal ego, since he has no principles — and, with no principles to lose, and none to uphold, he just may be “Shameless Man.”

      Look, down in the swamp, it’s a pig; it’s a slug; no, it’s Shameless Man!

      (With apologies to Superman.)

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  6. Yes, younger brother he is “Shameless Man”, but Nowhere Man (Biden) is running against him so be afraid be very afraid! ( w/ apologies to Jeff Goldblums The Fly. Brindle Fly. :/ :o)

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      1. I guess that makes me Older Bear lol I like that better than “Old”and better that our Late Great Uncle Gino Dominic called me A Big Ape! :O)

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        1. Think of yourself as Ursa Major, which makes me Ursa Minor. Though I see that Ursa Major was a she-bear.

          He had become a heemanee, for which there ain’t no English word. 🙂

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          1. In other cultural traditions, ’tain’t no bear a-tall! As Carl Sagan reminded me the other night as I revisit the original “Cosmos” TV series for its 40th (!) Anniversary.

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          2. For Everyone’s Info, the movie of “Little Big Man,” starring Dustin Hoffman and Chief Dan George, turns 50 this year! Having been in servitude to Uncle Sam in 1970, I didn’t get to see it until maybe 1972 in a “repertory” moviehouse. “It makes my heart soar like a hawk” and “It’s a good day to die” are two lines of dialogue from the Chief that stick with me still.

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    1. Things will get better…for the cockroaches! The meek SHALL inherit the Earth, once homo sapiens has made himself extinct (planned obsolescence?).

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      1. In light of recent events and all the hurt to this small, fragile Blue, Planetary World sometimes I think the Dinosaurs would’ve done a better job, and that killer Asteroid would have been better served!

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        1. It undoubtedly would’ve taken the dinosaurs a long time to evolve to the point where they could pose an environmental threat to the planet. Can’t you just picture them roaring around in gas-guzzling SUVs?! No, neither can I!

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          1. Or.., T-Rex flying his F-18 in Full Afterburner whilst on a Strafing Run over some Triceratops that I have Framed and hanging in my Study/ mancave! :o)

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    2. Little Big Man has been in my Movie Library, and an important Movie too in my opin. I gave the Book as well to my Younger Brother as a Present!– I mean “Younger Bear” lol Now if I can find my 3rd Wife…!

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