So, Politico has just the story we need in the contemporary USA: a how-to for blaming everything Trump on a woman.
Nearly a year into his presidency, Trump’s behavior—as much as, or more than, any policy he’s advanced—stands as a subject of consternation, fascination and speculation. Psychology experts read and watch the news, and they have the same basic curiosity lots of people have: What makes somebody act the way he acts? None of them has evaluated Trump in an official, clinical capacity—Trump is pretty consistently anti-shrink—but they nonetheless have been assessing from afar, tracking back through his 71 years, searching for explanations for his belligerence and his impulsivity, his bottomless need for applause and his clockwork rage when he doesn’t get it, his failed marriages and his ill-tempered treatment of women who challenge him. And they always end up at the beginning. With his parents. Both of them. Trump might focus on his father, but the experts say the comparative scarcity of his discussion of his mother is itself telling.
Crafty ‘Cubi of Candy Corn! This is going to be terrible, isn’t it?
Oh, yes. Oh yes indeed.
We don’t even need to read that whole paragraph to get a sense of just how terrible. All one needs is to contrast the title with the subtitle:
The Mystery of Mary Trump:
Donald Trump Reveres His Father, But Almost Never Talks About His Mother. Why Not?
If the first sentence of the article doesn’t somehow include, “sexism,” preferably in an informative and insightful list since human behavior is overdetermined, you know the article is crap. Guess what? It’s crap.
Just how bad is it? Well, he’s the full first paragraph
When Donald Trump moved into the Oval Office in January, he placed on the table behind the Resolute Desk a single family photo—of Fred Trump, his father. Sometime in the spring, White House communications director Hope Hicks told me recently, the president added one of his mother, Mary Trump. When, exactly, and why, Hicks couldn’t or wouldn’t say. This scenario, as uneven as it may seem, was a continuation of the setup in Trump’s office on the 26th floor of Trump Tower, where a photo of his father always was proudly, prominently situated on his desk—and a photo of his mother, in the words of a former staffer, was “noticeably absent.” It can be risky to read too much into the placement of family pictures—except with Trump, it confirms a disparity that has been evident for decades: the looming, constant presence of his father, and the afterthought status of his mother.
The article goes on to discuss various witnesses’ recollections that Mary Trump was not as publicly prominent as her husband. Two childhood friends discuss remembering when Donald’s father was around while they were playing, but don’t remember Donald’s mother being around quite so much.*1 If that wasn’t enough for you, the Freudians are going to spell out “s p h e r i c a l c o w” for you, whether they have any solid basis for their conclusions or not.
Nearly a year into his presidency, Trump’s behavior—as much as, or more than, any policy he’s advanced—stands as a subject of consternation, fascination and speculation. Psychology experts read and watch the news, and they have the same basic curiosity lots of people have: What makes somebody act the way he acts? None of them has evaluated Trump in an official, clinical capacity
which, of course, won’t stop them from acting as if they have the inside scoop,
they nonetheless have been assessing from afar, tracking back through his 71 years, searching for explanations
they always end up at the beginning. With his parents. Both of them. Trump might focus on his father, but the experts say the comparative scarcity of his discussion of his mother is itself telling.
Oh, yes. A lack of data is always telling.
Prudence Gourguechon, past prez of the APsychoanalyticA*2 goes on to inform us:
a solid relationship with “what we sometimes call an ordinary, devoted mother” establishes a foundation on which critical personal and emotional architecture can be built. “The capacity to trust. A sense of security versus insecurity. Knowing what’s real and what’s not real,” Gourguechon says. “Your mother helps you identify your feelings and develop a cognitive structure so you don’t have to act on them immediately. And I think it’s fair to say that the capacity for empathy develops through your maternal relationship.”
So what is it that Mary Trump did that was so wrong as to create Donald Trump?
She hemorrhaged during the birth of Donald’s next-younger sib, then had to physically recover while the poor Donald was only 2.5 years old. The horror! One can’t imagine! No, wait. There’s no need to imagine:
“A 2½-year-old is going through a process of becoming more autonomous, a little bit more independent from the mother,” says Smaller, [yet another] former American Psychoanalytic Association president. “If there is a disruption or a rupture in the connection, it would have had an impact on the sense of self, the sense of security, the sense of confidence.”
So, Mary Trump was distant generally, in that she refused to play with model trains and did not follow Donald and his friends to the basement, and also in that she committed the horrible sin of nearly dying in childbirth.
And all that would be fine to include in a biography, if one were so inclined as to write one for her. Remember, however, that this isn’t a biography of Mary Trump, not really. This is an article seeking answers to the question, Why is The Donald so fucked up?
The details of Mary Trump’s life that the author selected to related should be set in the context that they would not have been communicated if they didn’t support the thesis that Mary Trump fucked up Donald Trump. Which is why it’s so weird that we actually see this paragraph, attempting to further divine exactly why Mary Trump paid so little attention to Donald:
It’s possible she was interacting less with the boys because she was interacting more with the girls. Nicholas Kass, one of Donald Trump’s classmates at the Kew-Forest School, recalls his father sitting with Trump’s father at athletic fundraising dinners. “In those days, everything was separate,” he told me. “The girls, I guess, had dinners with their mothers.” John J. Walter, a cousin of the president and a kind of Trump family historian, concurs. “That was the way it was,” he says. “Guys were guys, and girls were girls.”
Oh. That was the way it was? Not that guys were sexist and women were afraid? Make sure that your phrasing doesn’t shift the blame away from Mary, okay? This might almost be read as a neutral statement of a natural fact, like e=mc^2 or The enemy’s gate is down.
So definitely don’t include:
Seated in the dining room, according to Paul Onish, another of Trump’s early friends, it seemed best to mind his manners. “Fred was fairly strict and wanted to know how everybody’s days went,” Onish told me. And Trump’s mother? “I don’t remember Mary talking that much.”
Ach! I said don’t include that! You start including that and it’s possible that some people would see Mary sympathetically, obeying a “strict” Fred’s idiosyncratic ideas of propriety that somehow involved a man asking the boy children how their day had played out while his wife and girl children remained seen and not heard. But no one could get the idea that this was an abusive household, could they? That rather than The Donald being a fucked up outcome of a mother’s dangerously negligent parenting, The Donald instead was the natural result of an abusive man molding his son in his image?
Of course not. Just listen to another friend of the young The Donald:
“He did talk about his father,” McIntosh says, “how he told him to be a ‘king,’ to be a ‘killer.’ He didn’t tell me what his mother’s advice was. He didn’t say anything about her. Not a word.”
Don’t look now, but the article’s thesis is crumbling:
Barbara Res was another Trump Organization vice president in the 1980s. She got to know Mary Trump on the occasions she stopped in at the offices in Trump Tower or at dinners or fundraisers for which Trump had purchased a table. “I have a very clear memory that she was supportive of me,” Res says. “I think she liked the idea that I was doing what I was doing”—working, with a prominent title and role—“whereas Fred hated it.” Res adds: “She was a classy kind of person. Of the three of them, Fred, Donald and his mother, she had the most polish.” That, she thinks, didn’t rub off on her famous son, or anything else, really. “I don’t know that he got all that much from her,” Res says.
Oh, but that’s okay. The Freudians are there to make sure that everything is interpreted in just the proper way, with Mary getting the blame. And The Donald gets the last words, including these:
“My father was more directly related to me,” he told biographer Tim O’Brien in 2005. “My mother was a wife who really was a great homemaker. She always said, ‘Be happy!’ She wanted me to be happy,” he wrote two years later in Think Big. “My father understood me more,” Trump then added, abruptly shifting gears, “and he said, ‘I want you to be successful.’”
Now, none of the reporting addresses the quality of Mary Trump’s beef stroganoff, but I find this Mary Trump post-mortem to be as disgusting and uninformative a family bio as I can imagine.
Fuck Politico: Trump is responsible for being Trump. Even if, as seems more likely, Fred Trump shaped Donald’s relentless pursuit of status, money, and dominance*3 much more than Mary Trump, Donald Trump has to answer for his crimes on his own. Bringing in the fringe Freudians over and over doesn’t change that at all.
*1: For example, this is how the article relates the description of one friend:
the kids spent most of their time in the basement, where the Trumps had an impressive model train set—“just splendid, trains going through tunnels and over buildings and all around,” Golding told me. “It took up a couple ping-pong tables, a lot bigger than anything I had ever seen.” Mary Trump usually was not a part of this playtime tableau—it was Fred Trump who would come down to say hello after work. “He was more willing to play with us, if you will, than his mom,” Golding says.
Yeah, I wonder whose model train set that was?
*2: There are so many damn APA’s, but please take note of this one. It’s not the Psychiatric or Psychological association, this one is the Psychoanalytic association. Psychoanalysis, for those not in the know, is the group that is strictly all Freud all the time. Note that the reporter spoke to at least 3 different APsychoanalyticA past presidents. No Psychological or Psychiatric president or past president is quoted.
*3: often, but not exclusively sexist dominance