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Sunday, December 9, 2018

Gut check on the guttiest, nuttiest president. Bar none

We have words for those who elevate internal, non-logical feelings over mind – contrary to what that vast conspiracy of humanity calls consensual knowledge: delusional, hustlers, deceivers, crack pots or people of bad faith.

When pondering what’s worse than a shameless pathological liar in charge, how about a smirking bounder whose infallible gut instinct is an earthly marvel? That’s what Trumpster alleged this week: brainpower withers vs. his non-rational core. This president is the tragic experiment that tests a loony theory, “anyone can be president.” Behind which is the equally delusional bet, “this jerk can’t be a bad as the last one – or the one running against him.”

Set these fallacies against other leaps of faith, such as American Exceptionalism (“we’re the best ever”), Manifest Destiny (“God insists we be coast-to-coast”), Putin never does election machinations, Saudi Arabia’s strongman doesn’t know murder from meatloaf and, by far the most outrageous propaganda, “I alone can fix everything.” What a cacophony of poppycock, assuredly our fast track to national mediocrity, backsliding to our shameful moral standing when Andrew Jackson was chief bully and slavery degraded America.

Sure, “gut instinct” works when taking on messy, intricate or complex choices when knowledge or experience is lacking. But equating “gut” with decision-making is a default proving you don’t have a clue what you’re doing. And only the stupid (the kind you “can’t fix”) lean on unconscious, non-verbal cues when making life or death calls. Right, the cult leader plays to his aggrieved, if middle-class followers who willingly abandon evidence when upset turns them into hapless victims. Whatever the context, glorifying your know-it-all gut above all else invites being called “stupid as shit” (ex-advisor Gary Cohen on Trump).

And so this week we address what makes Trump the Decider – thanks to an admission only a nincompoop would ever publicize: “My gut tells me more sometimes than anybody’s brain can ever tell me,” this president boasted this week to the Washington Post. Does anything more clearly reveal what we’re dealing with? Does Trump’s gut really “tell” him more of everything – or just what he wants to hear? Does he really denigrate every other brain – “weak” against the infallible Trump? And don’t miss the wholly disingenuous “sometimes,” as if Trump ever trusts anyone else.

Here’s more indisputable “evidence” that proves Trump is many-times an ill-educated, intellectual doofus. First, with the dishonest misdirection that 1) gut instinct falsely opposes brainpower, as if the two are wholly disconnected; and 2) that merely asserting his god-like gut (despite countless blunders to the contrary) magically convinces anyone but his cultists. Hey, Donald, they already bought the pitch. Second, does he not expose he’s never learned what constitutes knowledge, if not how conscious and unconscious inter-weave? What gut, good or bad, knows deliberation, and who boasts openly this informs Trump’s marvel of “decision-making”?

Divine right of kings, redux

Does this not replicate the divine right of kings audacity where “decisions” are driven by emotion and self-interest, then gilded with the trappings of specious logic? Does not Trump’s revelation reinforce the crowd who’ve already called Trump an “idiot” (John Kelly, H R McMaster, Gary Cohen, Sam Nunberg, Reince Preibus, and Steve Mnuchin); or “less a person than a collection of terrible traits” (Gary Cohen), “kindergartener” (McMaster) or, in the immortal words attributed to Rex Tillerson, “a f-cking moron”? Talk about cognitive dissonance: all the while Trump touts his unique intelligence, stability, world-class memory, and earth-shaking “genius.” How else can he know more than his generals on war, more than his economic staff on trade, and more than a gaggle of foreign policy experts? Behold a miracle otherwise accorded divine entities.

Let’s compare this presumption to the inarticulate Dubya. He’s another admitted “gut player,” but in an ABC interview knew enough to invoke facts, listening and “mind:”

a president is a decision maker, and once I receive input, I make up my mind. And I am not afraid to decide. And I listen carefully to facts, but as Bob Woodward reflected, if you’d asked I do have, I mean, I’ve got basic instincts that I trust, trust my judgment.

Though no genius, Bush here explains coherently how his “consistent instincts” partner with thought, input and judgment based on experiences that strike him as true:

If people [don’t] respect freedom, if somebody is repressive, if somebody doesn’t understand the value of freedom, that person is a failed leader right off the bat. That’s an instinct. And so I make judgments based upon, many times based upon on a value system that I believe is true and universal.

Woe upon us when today’s farcical, altogether repressive braggart makes Dubya seem downright presidential, as a thinker, doer and decider. Trump dismisses facts because they disrupt his gut-friendly, made-up world. When push comes to shove – and Trump above was rejecting the science of climate change – “belief” (whatever that means) or gut instinct is exactly what sustains climate ignorance. After all, this isn’t picking paint colors or ice cream flavors or playing a hunch when betting. Like evolution, the spherical earth, or rotation around the sun, climate warming is settled, uncontroversial science, with massive testing and data replication. One accepts or refutes scientific findings, mankind’s most reliable assessment tool, not believes or disbelieves it (as in faith or god). So “not believing in” human-directed climate warming – demonized as a hoax – echoes deluded flat-earthers, declaring with absolute certainly, “I only see flatness so the earth must be flat.” Thus, their once preposterous warning: “sail far enough from land, and you fall off the edge into the abyss.” Sounds gruesome, if not disorienting, precisely the realm where Trumpian “reason” resides: off the grid.

Really, who trusts any doctor prescribing drugs or therapy on gut instinct? Or hires a purely gut-driven attorney after being arrested for a felony? That way lies madness. How about deciding whether your child deserves life-saving immunizations? How facile to dismiss medical science while trusting your gut (or aberrant religious sentiment)? What failing student excuses blunders with, “You mean, my gut can be wrong”? What raw recruit, not already in the guard house, blames his gut for dereliction of duty? Finally, what surgeon gets away with removing the wrong organ, quipping “guess I should trust knowledge, not intuition?” That’s a one-minute malpractice trial.

Gut instinct, the refuge of fools

In short, except for perplexing, daunting options, obeying your gut alone invites calamity. Truth, let alone reality, answers not to our momentary physical sensations or entrenched biases (the source of all gut instinct). The world is round, however many many fools say otherwise – and with a super-heated, molten (invisible) center. Earthquakes and plagues aren’t acts of gods, whether from heaven (wherever that is) or Mt. Olympus. Climate change is happening world-wide, no matter the yahoo denials.

We have words for those who elevate internal, non-logical feelings over mind – contrary to what that vast conspiracy of humanity calls consensual knowledge: delusional, hustlers, deceivers, crack pots or people of bad faith. That’s exactly why, until 2016, America never elected someone with zero, relevant public experience to our highest office – notwithstanding a history of scandals, bullying, rancor and failures. Trumpian implosion, well under way, will for a generation produce this clear teaching moment: don’t glorify intuitive, often fear-based hunches at odds with thought, knowledge and history. Don’t cheer on disruption for disruption’s sake – or guess wildly that destruction itself fixes the painful status quo. Fortunately, bounders in the public eye who deify gut instincts expose their true, damaging self – smacked with boomerangs of their own devices. Bring ’em on.

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Robert S. Becker
For over a decade, Robert S. Becker's independent, rebel-rousing essays on politics and culture analyze overall trends, history, implications, messaging and frameworks. He has been published widely, aside from Nation of Change and RSN, with extensive credits from OpEdNews (as senior editor), Alternet, Salon, Truthdig, Smirking Chimp, Dandelion Salad, Beyond Chron, and the SF Chronicle. Educated at Rutgers College, N.J. (B.A. English) and U.C. Berkeley (Ph.D. English), Becker left university teaching (Northwestern, then U. Chicago) for business, founding SOTA Industries, a top American high end audio company he ran from '80 to '92. From '92-02, he was an anti-gravel mining activist while doing marketing, business and writing consulting. Since then, he seeks out insight, even wit in the shadows, without ideology or righteousness across the current mayhem of American politics.
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