The president is saying dumb stuff again today, which is a good excuse to re-up this article. I still think it's the truest thing I ever wrote about Trump and the key to understanding his public behavior. https://www.vox.com/2016/9/29/13086236/trump-beliefs-category-error …
Basically, when most people say words, they are (in part!) making reference to objects & states of affairs in the world. The words are meant to be judged based on their accurate correspondence to those things in the world. That's simply not what Trump is doing with language.
For Trump, language is ONLY a tool to gain advantage & establish dominance. He can say "family separation is bad, Obama started it" and "family separation is good, I want to expand it" at the SAME EVENT & not be troubled in the least. These are not contradictory references ...
... to something in the world. They are simply what Trump feels in his gut can gain him some small advantage, *in the moment*. Saying one thing in one moment does not bind him in any way, or restrict what he can say, in the next moment. Why would it?
Similarly, Trump can say climate change is a hoax & then also campaign on an (absurd, obviously) list of "climate achievements." Aren't those contradictory? Only if you interpret them as references to the world! Both are merely plays for advantage, for dominance, in the moment.
The key thing to remember is that this is not a conventional case of a politician lying, where he's not telling you what he really believes. The question of what Trump "really believes" has no answer. He simply doesn't have stable beliefs about the world like normal people.
All he has is a raging, bottomless ego that must be constantly fed & maintained. That is what words are doing for him; nothing else. There's nothing sillier than earnestly "factchecking" those words. It's a category error!
Anyway, all of this is just a roundabout way of pointing out that Trump very obviously suffers from toxic Narcissistic Personality Disorder and the silly prohibition on "diagnosing at a distance" has led a bunch of people to be willfully naive about it.
Just accept that the US president has toxic NPD (shudder) & all his behavior makes sense. And you can predict his future behavior too! Plus you'll never waste time again pretending that his words are intended to refer to something beyond his own ego. </fin>
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