Legendary comedian Patton Oswalt penned a devastatingly insightful Facebook post about the current state of American politics and the monstrous presence of Donald Trump last night that deserves to be spread far and wide.
After speaking with a therapist friend, Oswalt came to some interesting conclusions about Trump and the ways in which mental health professionals speak about presidential candidates. Barry Goldwater was diagnosed by psychiatrists during his election campaign in 1964, and they found him to be, as Oswalt writes "paranoid, grandiose and unstable." After Goldwater lost, he sued the psychiatrists who have since refrained from making public statements about the mental health of a public figure. Writes Oswalt:
It’s an unwritten rule among mental health professionals in which a diagnosis of a public figure should not be offered based on observation of their public behavior. Unless a one-on-one analysis can be made, they stay silent.
This is ironic now, said my friend, since Trump is so obviously insane and dangerous. Narcissistic, borderline personality, and anti-social. “All of these are obvious,” he explained to me. “A first year resident can see this.”
While this is clearly incredibly troubling, Oswalt argues that this could actually work in Hillary Clinton's favor given her track record. Why? Because Hillary is used to dealing with bullies:
He [the therapist friend] then pointed out something even creepier...and ultimately hopeful. In life, overall, there are two groups. Predator and prey.
Predators can only survive if they DON'T play fair. In the wild, it’s why cheetahs go after the older gazelles, or the wounded gazelles, or the slower gazelles. They never challenge the alpha. What would be the point. It's too much work.
In society, predators triumph by causing fear in their prey, and then promising to protect the prey from the fear they’ve created. Thus, Trump’s followers. Human predators never go after the confident, stable and powerful. Again, too much work.
But here’s the hopeful part — predators ONLY have that one strategy. They can win if you respond to it, or attack it head on.
If Hillary tries to out-frighten or out-bully Trump, he wins. He’ll crush her.
But if she stays calm, and stays on message, and keeps hammering one or two points that everyone can agree on, then Trump has to keep sticking his neck further and further out. He has to think up crazier and crazier ways to scare people. And that means him eventually blurting out “nigger” or “cunt” or God knows what. I honestly can't think of what's left for him to spew, at this point.
Hillary’s been judo-ing predators her whole career. Ken Starr, and Gingrich, and Comey and the head of the FBI. And none of those guys operate at the lunatic pitch that Trump operates at.
The GOP knows this. That’s why they’ve stopped trying to reach Trump. They’re going to let him melt down these next few weeks until they look like sober heroes for stepping in and replacing him. They can’t step in now or they look like assholes. Or cowards.
Does Trump even speak to his people one-on-one anymore? I bet he just watches TV and scrolls the internet for alerts about himself. That’s probably why the people around him keep denouncing what he’s saying without pulling their endorsement. The denouncements in the press are the only way Trump will see them. His middle man is now his own ego.
Oswalt's theory is, at least in my opinion, 100% correct. Clinton needs to stand up to Donald Trump, but cannot play by his rules. As a long time Martial Artist instructor, this is a rule I teach my students to adhere to religiously: you make your opponent play your game, not theirs at all costs. Force is always best defeated by neutralizing it without unnecessary confrontation. As the great Bruce Lee once said:
When the opponent expand, I contract. When he contracts, I expand. And, when there is an opportunity, I do not hit - "it" hits all by itself.
As Oswalt argues, all Clinton needs to do then, is sit back and wait to capitalize on Trump's inevitable mistakes. He'll do all the work for her, and his aggression will simply be reflected back at him.
Clinton's adoption of this strategy is of the utmost importance, because there really is no other way. It is the same strategy Obama used against her in 2008, and the same strategy he has used whilst in office against the Republicans. It works, and Clinton knows this first hand. Oswalt writes:
We are living in a horror movie written by comedians and performed by maniacs using megaphones.
This maniac can be stopped -- not by taking away his megaphone, but by amplifying it.