I am the greatest. These four words echo the very heart of narcissistic behavior patterns. One man made those four words quite famous back in February, 1964. Cassius Clay, aka Muhammad Ali, made this statement both prophetically before, and poignantly after, his fight with Sonny Liston.
When Ali said it, it was arrogant but entertaining. It was entertaining because he did have a point. He just might have been the greatest of all time. He certainly seemed to be the greatest of his era, especially after that important fight with Liston. But these days, Donald Trump is saying it, too.
When Donald Trump says the very same thing in almost the very same way, it doesn't come off quite as well. It seems arrogant, that's for sure. But it is anything but entertaining, unless you happen to be one of his slave-like sycophantic followers. To the rest of the world it seems tragically unentertaining. It seems arrogant and disgusting, precisely because he doesn't have a valid point. Perhaps only by elevation to his present position of power, he may have a point that he is the greatest narcissist of his era, perhaps even the greatest of all time. Yes, in this respect if no other, he rivals the likes of Emperor Nero, Henry VIII, Napoleon, Alexander the Great, and yes, Adolf Hitler. But unfortunately for DJT, unlike those others, he lives in a democratically influenced constitutional republic, and the next election approacheth. And it approacheth under the very dark cloud of an only-marginally-controlled pandemic, one over which he could have exercised far better control. He must therefore share the blame for its destruction of both the lives of many people and the economy, of which he has been so arrogantly proud.
In 1964, Sonny Liston was one of the most powerful and dangerous opponents in the heavy-weight ring. Almost no one gave the young Clay a sporting chance against "The Bear". But in the first of a series of contests that would go on to define "The Greatest", the man who adopted the name, Ali, trounced his opponent convincingly, making a serious statement to back up his claim of being the greatest.
Now, just over a half century later, here we are listening to the likes of Donald Trump making similar claims of being "The Greatest". But unfortunately for The Donald, he couldn't float like a butterfly, even figuratively, if his life depended on it. While many in his disastrous administration have felt the "sting" of the bee, the butterfly part seems ludicrously out of place. And that sting is typically administered by proxy, by others in the administration so The Donald doesn't have to actually get his own hands dirty in the process. He delegates the actuality, but loves precious little more than giving voice to the words, "You're Fired!" Those are the words this man made famous. Ali owns "The Greatest". Trump owns "You're Fired!" The difference could not be more telling.
Both utterances support an ego of great size. Both represent a power trip and the personality that requires such support. With "The Greatest", Ali had a point and the Donald does not. With "You're Fired," Trump has something Ali apparently never had: the illusion of control and domination over everyone else, everywhere. Ali had that in the ring, but he knew the difference between that domain and the reality existing outside the ring. Trump knows no such dichotomy between his immediate sphere of influence in the government and the reality that exists outside of it.
Unfortunately for The Donald, his time of great influence is drawing to a close. Unfortunately for the rest of us, narcissists seldom relinquish positions of power without contesting that surrender. They sometimes resort to violence. In the barely literate words of The Donald, we could be in for a "very, very" rough ride in the coming months. Remembering some other words spoken by this man, President Obama was surely going to start a war to save his presidency's reputation. Trump knows embarrassingly little about the office he holds, but he does know that war-time presidents have a trump card, if you will. He would dearly like to be re-elected in November. He and the Republicans are counting on Russian interference, voter suppression, and rabid support from the radical right. What better time could there be to launch a war effort to bolster support from the rest of the voters? Something has to be done to distract from the embarrassing results of this pandemic. Something has to be done to deflect attention from the disastrously inept response to it by this administration. What better time could there possibly be for the distraction of a war effort? The Middle East is rife with wars. There are continuing wars in Afghanistan, Yemen, and Syria. But to make a big enough splash, to gain sufficient attention to retain the White House, Trump is going to have to start a brand new conflict.
He certainly wouldn't want to start a war with Kim. Lord knows, they are lovers, anyway. But there is always Iran. Good old Iran. Trouble is, they would fight back. A lot. And the U.S. has many valuable interests in the region that could quickly become targets. The real question is how dangerously unhinged is Trump. Is he unhinged enough to start a war that could bring devastation and losses to multiple Middle East nations as well as our own interests in the region? Is "The Greatest" dangerous enough to get us into a conflict--yet another conflict--with no good resolution available?
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