Is the government shutdown also kind of a #MeToo moment? Can thinking about it that way help us better understand what’s going on? It does seem to fit. Think about it. A narcissistic man with a history of sexual predation lashes out after being goaded by his buddies (his “base”) because a woman said “no.” Of course, there are many reasons for the shutdown. It’s complicated. But one reason that deserves attention is this dynamic in which President Trump’s destructive narcissism got triggered because a person of Pelosi’s gender, someone who now wields the power of Speaker of the House, said “no.” And I would be remiss not to mention that this dynamic is strengthened by the dazzling and diverse dynamism of the many new Congresswomen, like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
Speaker Pelosi speaks her truth with all the institutional and personal power of a woman proud to have reclaimed her gavel. While saying yes to border security and yes to immigration reform, she’s very clear that Trump can’t have his wall. No means no. The wall is, as she says, an “immorality.” She’s even said that demands for the wall are “like a manhood thing with him — as if manhood can be associated with him.” But he refuses to accept her no. There’s to be no compromise. Why? Well, he can’t agree to open the government because, as he’s been quoted saying https://www.cnn.com/2019/01/02/politics/donald-trump-shutdown-congress-meeting/index.html, “I would look foolish if I did that.” He comes first, before country or even party. Rather than looking for an agreement he’s governing like a pathological narcissist, as well as being someone who does indeed have a self-described and documented history of being a sexual predator. That should not be forgotten. Character is everything.
With any other president this would not be an issue. But with Trump it is. Whether he has a diagnosable personality disorder or he has cynically adopted his own version of Roger Stone’s Stone’s Rules as his style leads to the same conclusion; pathological narcissism is his model for leadership. At the core is knowing that one lie or instance of plundering is a scandal. But thousands of them are a different story. They are merely statistics to be ignored. It really doesn’t matter if he’s sick or strategic because President Trump has been racking up huge numbers of both.
One central part of this pathologically narcissistic leadership style is that he always has to see others seeing him as exceptional. A great example is the way he continually repeats lies about winning the “greatest election of all time.” He will distort whatever reality there is that interferes with getting others to see him as exceptional, like denying the fact he lost the popular vote by 3 million votes—to a woman no less.
Pelosi knows this and has started calling him on it. After a widely viewed public Oval Office meeting in December, she said, “You know, it’s really sad. Nothing he said was true—nothing.”
Another part of his narcissistic leadership stye is that because he’s exceptional others are not. Except for a chosen few everyone else must be no more than ordinary. Everyone else is less than. They must submit. If, as Trump has said “when you’re a star they let you do it, you can do anything … grab ‘em by the pussy .. you can do anything” just imagine the prerogatives he feels he has now that he is both a celebrity and the President of the USA. Everyone else, like Pelosi and all those new girls in the House, are all just less than and will eventually just come around because, well, when you’re the President you can do anything.
Pelosi is also on to this. She will not let it stand. She will not accept being less than even though it’s what his pathological narcissistic leadership style demands. For example, she begins her invite for the State of the Union by not just inviting him but by stating the “Constitution established the legislative, executive and judicial branches as co-equal branches of government, to be a check and balance on each other.” Another example is how after her election as Speaker she powerfully reminded the country that “the legislative branch is Article I: the first branch of government, co-equal to the presidency and judiciary.”
Another part of governing as a pathological narcissist that is especially dangerous for the current moment of a government shutdown is that for him the only thing that’s important is winning, or at least having others see him as winning. He could care less about the suffering the shutdown causes. After all, they’re a bunch of Democrat losers anyway. But his myopic focus on winning means there has to be someone who loses. For him, and for all pathological narcissists, empathy is impossible so compromise unthinkable.
So, what this all means is that Trump is not going to stop. He’s not going to take no for an answer. Like a drunk teenage boy from Georgetown Prep sexually assaulting a girl at a party not being stopped by her screams and only being stopped when his buddy jumps on the bed knocking them all to the floor, Trump will only relent when made to do so by one of his buddies. In other words, Senator McConnell has to let the Senate vote on the bills they have previously approved unanimously.
Otherwise, this really is #MeToo moment for the entire country, one where President Trump just won’t take Speaker Pelosi’s no for an answer.