Donald Trump, it seems, gets all he needs to know about the world, its people, and what goes on in the country from watching television. Notice: he uses the verb "watch" whenever pressed to have to have an opinion other than those which bounce back from gazing into his own reflection. "I watched it..." (a national or world event); "I watched him" or her. And from these images he labels the event or person in the simplest and crudest word or slurs that emerge from off the top of his fuzzy ducktail.
What has occurred throughout the endless loops of the same speech in front of the same flags on the same stage with the same flat lighting is that watching has touched off the inner Donald in me. I find myself making the O with my right index finger and thumb, then jabbing the air with my wrist three times to make the point. I gesture with both arms wide and turkey thrust my head and neck through when posing a rhetorical question. I scowl and frown. I narrow my eyes to squinty slits and wrinkle my brow all rough-tough creampuff to emphasize that I am not just angry, I am pissed off, mister! And finally, who can resist? I pucker and pout for the kiss off: "Not gonna happen, folks."
There are those among us whose handicap, or gift if you will, is to understand another person solely by reading his or her facial expressions and gestures. I found out about them when I was writing about another impressive Republican orator: Ronald Reagan. During that time, I was making my living in Hollywood and enthralled by the art of non-verbal messaging in the acting trade.
Did you ever read The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, by Oliver Saks? Dr. Saks specialized in the problems of those who suffered perceptual aberrations. He was a professor of clinical neurology at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. A great writer and a funny, compassionate man, in this book he details a series of bizarre brain disorders. Were he still with us, Oliver Saks would be just the expert to expose the mysterious inexplicable tics of Citizen Trump.
He relates the story of making rounds when he heard roars of laughter coming from the hospital TV lounge. Saks had been working for some time with patients who were diagnosed as aphasic. The word describes people of regular intelligence who have lost the use of the part of the brain that decodes the meanings of words. They hear words perfectly well, but just don't get the drift. What aphasics can do, however, is fake knowing what people are saying by compensating. They develop extra-verbal cues like tone of voice, emphasis or inflection, expressions, gestures, watching the speaker's unconscious personal repertoire and his body language. They are so good at doing this that normal people don't notice their deficit. Dr. Saks wrote about aphasics in a brilliant essay titled "The President's Speech." What his patients were breaking up at ("He thinks we believe him!") was what was being telegraphed by Ronald Reagan's otherwise mild-mannered rhetoric. Dr. Saks's explanation for how the aphasics saw through his acting the part of president: "Because speech -- natural speech -- does not consist of words alone... It consists of utterance -- an uttering forth of one's whole meaning with one's whole being -- the understanding of which does not consist of words alone."
Now! If we could beam the good doc back from the Great Beyond to sit in front of the tube with his aphasic intuitives, just imagine what these finely tuned "watchers" would have to say about the current pretender's bluff and bluster. Their talents of extra-lingual perception would serve as magic decoder ring for us to find out what really drives the twisted snarls and barks dogging Donald Trump today.
Dr. Saks writes that one thing you can't get away with around an aphasic is any kind of lying. They may not understand the words, but display infallible precision in translating the gesticulations emitted from the speaker which cannot be faked as easy as words can. Aphasics understand without fail what is authentic and what is not. "Thus it was the grimaces, the histrionisms, the false gestures, and above all, the false tones and cadences of the voice, which rang false...the most glaring, even grotesque, incongruities and improprieties that my aphasic patients responded to..." It was these tell-tale clues that cracked up the acute "watchers" at Reagan's TV performance.
We need whole teams of aphasic lie detectors laughing their asses off right up front at Trump's public appearances -- "Get 'em outta here!" Falling out of their seats, holding their heads, screeching at the man's bizarre gestures and timed mugging, his standard glowers and scowls, those precious little lip puckers, the over-the-top histrionics so treasured by his believers. Donald Trump, stemwinding his way through yet another repetition of the same-old same-old Strangelovian double-speak. Is there a doctor in the house?
Imagine the ecstatic well-earned catharsis for our country if right there, on his night of nights, when the now crowned Republican Party nominee for the next President of the United States, Donald John Trump, just as he's taking to the stage for his acceptance speech, under the billions, trillions of winking twinkling megawatts in the Quicken Loans arena, caught in the rack focus of worldwide TV cameras, cellphones and radio feeds, just as Don John the Conqueror salutes us against the waving banks of American flags -- Mr. Big Man with the teeny weeny digits, arms outstretched to love each and every one of us, barrel-chested and buff in front of the cascading release of thousands of red, white and blue balloons -- the Prince of the Two-Bit Chiselers!
Suddenly, sirens sound! An ambulance noses its careful way through the delegates and screeches to a halt at the foot of the stage. Men in white coats swarm the stage (is this part of the show?) Surround the candidate and wrap him in a padded jacket.
THEY'RE COMING TO TAKE YOU AWAY! Ha Ha! They're coming to take him away!