In the 12th century we had King Richard the Lionheart. It's taken us over 800 years to get from there to King Donald the Compassionless. In the past, I've written a lot about Donald Trump's rhetorical failings, fictions, fabulations and fallacies all of which are uniquely Trumpian. Others have written in great length about his pathological lying. But in all of discourse there's one word that hasn't been used much because it's the one word is unspeakable in Trump's lexicon: compassion.
The word comes from the Old French, from Late Latin compassiō, fellow feeling, from compatī, to suffer with, from Latin com-with+patī, to bear, suffer. For all his populist discourse about helping people, making America great and, by extension, making all Americans so very happy, Trump's rhetoric is completely devoid of compassion. Perhaps, he missed that lesson when he was growing up. Perhaps, his father had no compassion and he passed that on. Perhaps, his mother's voice was drowned out by Mr. Trump whose adversarial nature undermined any notion of what compassion entails. For example, his opening salvo about EgyptAir encapsulated his attitude towards compassion: "What just happened about 12 hours ago? A plane got blown out of the sky and if anybody thinks it wasn't blown out of the sky, you're 100 percent wrong, folks." One can overlook the bonafide buffoonery of that statement which was based, as almost all of Trump's statements, on opinion. The overwhelming amount of his statements are highly reminiscent of former Indiana Congressman Earl Landgrebe who, when confronted with the preponderance of evidence against Nixon during Watergate, opined, "Don't confuse me with the facts!" But facts are not confusing for Trump because he's so adept at making them up. Though no one knows exactly what happened to or on the plane, and no one will for some time, one thing is certain: 66 people lost their lives; however, the fact there were fatalities had no impact on Trump who made no mention of that nor has he expressed condolences for any of the passengers or their families since, you see, condolences would necessitate a sense of compassion and since he has no compassion then there is no compassion where none needed. But as we know that lack of compassion has a history.
The most recent history, of course, is the lack of compassion for the deportation of 11 million "illegal immigrants." As he said to Mika Brzezinski, "You're going to have a deportation force, and you're going to do it humanely... Don't forget, Mika, that you have millions of people that are waiting in line to come into this country and they're waiting to come in legally. And I always say the wall, we're going to build the wall. It's going to be a real deal. It's going to be a real wall." Presumably, that "real wall" would be in opposition to a "fake wall" which would only work in a García Márquez short story. Be that as it may, that kind of "jackboot diplomacy" completely ignores any sense of compassion especially for those children born in the United States and who are citizens of the United States regardless of their parents' legal status. Not sure how "humanely" one can create something that could only be compared to the Bataan Death March, but certainly Trump's "people" will come up with something since they always do.
Related to the housing bubble of 2006, Trump said: "If there is a bubble burst, as they call it, you know you can make a lot of money... If you're in a good cash position -- which I'm in a good cash position today -- then people like me would go in and buy like crazy." His defense of that statement was based on the fact he's a businessman and, presumably, being a businessman is not predicated on ethics or compassion. Trump certainly had no interest in what would happen to all those thousands of people who lost their homes since Trump's single-mindedness was focused on making a buck for Trump. According to Global Research, "From January 2007 to December 2011 there were more than four million completed foreclosures and more than 8.2 million foreclosure starts"
For those with the financial resources to buy those properties without any notion of ethical responsibility or compassion for those who lost their homes, it was a marvelous opportunity and, presumably, Trump must have been salivating over the fact that he could make a killing out of the desperation of others.
But probably Trump's greatest example of how utterly compassionless he can be (save for his oligarchic approach to Orlando), he saved for Vince Foster. Though Trump could not tell you what the meaning of the rhetorical device called apophasis is, he uses it as if he were Cicero himself. The device is used by a speaker in which he brings up a subject by denying it or denying that it should be brought up. In terms of Vince Foster -- who died by suicide, the facts of which have been borne out as such -- Trump couldn't leave that alone and with utter disregard for the Foster family, friends and his memory, stated: "I don't think it's something that should really be part of the campaign... I really know nothing about the Vince Foster situation. I haven't known anything about it and somebody asked me the question the other day and I said that a lot of people are skeptical as to what happened and how he died. I know nothing about it." I'm sure Cicero would have been proud of this use of apophasis, but not for the same reasons as Trump. The statement would be tantamount to Hillary Clinton saying to Trump, "I'm certainly not going to bring up the fact that 70 percent of men Mr. Trump's age suffer from erectile dysfunction since that would be totally inappropriate for a political debate." One only wishes she would say that.
The fact is that until someone calls him out on how compassionless he is and does so with vigor, he'll continue to say whatever he wants to say. That, in effect, is the fault of the media for not being rigorous enough and not using the same kind of language against him that he uses. Last time I saw that happen was when Chris Matthews battered him about abortion until, like the fragile man he is, he weakened, broke and stated something clearly in his compassionless wheelhouse. When broadcasters like Maddow and O'Donnell become concerned about the possibility of a Trump presidency, then we should all be concerned as well. But we can't confront Mr. Trump and what I find so disquieting about the media is that few directly call Trump out not only on how he uses/abuses language but how, in his quest to become the most compassionless presidential candidate ever to run for that office, he can say whatever he wants to say with impunity. In the end, one can only be reminded of that famous Simon and Garfunkel lyric: "Where have you gone, Edward Murrow, a nation turns its lonely eyes to you woo, woo, woo."