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Letter: Two schools of Trumpology

Published on June 28, 2017

President Donald Trump is shown at Sigonella Naval Air Station, in Sigonella, Italy, May 27, 2017.

©Luca Bruno/The Associated Press file photo

After some five months of study, two major schools of thought seem to have emerged in the science of Trumpology.

The European school of Trumpologists tends to find comedy in the current U.S. government situation, and places a high value on those absurd and hilarious examples of Donald Trump’s behaviour, and especially his daft utterances. The British in particular, whose taste for political satire has a long and noble history (“Monty Python,” Private Eye, etc.), thoroughly enjoy the wit and “wisdom” of Trump.

T.S. Eliot will forgive me, I’m sure, for misquoting his ‘Hollow Men,’ which captures so neatly (and presciently) our 21st-first century situation: ‘This is the way the world ends, Not with a bang but a Twitter.’

North Americans of the doom-laden school of Trumpology are more inclined to treat Trumpisms with something approaching dread. Their view of the president is influenced by their awareness of the huge stockpiles of nuclear weapons at Trump’s disposal, and his total lack of diplomacy.

Since North America was the birthplace of atomic bomb-testing in the 1940s and ’50s, our observers naturally have a much less complacent attitude toward these things than do their European colleagues.

The European or Absurdist school of Trumpology compares the new president to Oliver Hardy, whose response to every disaster of his own making was to accuse poor Stan Laurel with “Hmph! Another fine mess you’ve got us into!” Several European observers have told me recently that this is how they view their own politicians, and they see no reason why Trump should be viewed any differently.

Here, within range of even the smallest of Trump’s ballistic missiles, we are more likely to compare the president to the Red Queen in Lewis Carroll’s “Alice in Wonderland,” who can’t control her anger, constantly shouting “Off with his/her head!”

Where the Absurdist sees this uncontrolled fury as side-splittingly funny, and eagerly watches the headlines for every new outburst, our North American glee is tempered by the knowledge that the president is quite capable of ending the world (in another doomed attempt to impress Ice Queen Melania?)

Of course, as in so many areas of study, there is a certain amount of non- involvement — a sort of fatalism that many find comforting. Those who choose not to follow the fortunes of the Trump family have their own default setting, well summed up by that 1980s Jerry Dammers’ (Specials) song, “Pearl’s Café”: “It’s all a load of bollocks!”

This view should, in my humble opinion, be considered a third school of Trumpology. It has as much to recommend it as the other two.

T.S. Eliot will forgive me, I’m sure, for misquoting his “Hollow Men,” which captures so neatly (and presciently) our 21st-first century situation: “This is the way the world ends, Not with a bang but a Twitter.” I’m taking a summer break now, but will keep an eye half-open for any new absurdities (or genuine threats to the human race). After the summer (assuming that we in fact have a summer this year) I plan to decide whether the Absurdist or the doom-laden school of Trumpology (or, for that matter, the Specials school) coincides more neatly with my own attitude.

I think that sounds like a useful summer’s work for an old geezer like me.

 

Ed Healy

Marystown