The two Donalds

bob_franken_cWhat I’m about to describe is Fake News — it hasn’t happened, at least so far. However, I think it’s just a matter of time. At some Nazi/KKK rally where some of President Donald Trump’s “good people” are joining the lunatic-fringe types in hateful demonstrations, they are confronted by angry counterprotestors. Someone pulls a gun and starts firing. The violence escalates, and people die.

You say that it has already occurred, in Charlottesville, Virginia? True, that’s where an angry right-wing lunatic took his car and slammed into a crowd of innocents, killing Heather Heyer and injuring 19 others. But this might be even worse, believe it or not. It’s hard to conceive that a vehicular attack would be met by another in response. It is not hard to speculate that when one armed wacko pulls out a pistol or rifle and starts shooting, those on the other side will pull out theirs, and bullets will be flying everywhere, leaving many casualties.

With so many people packin’ heat these days, and with the anger escalating in this country, it seems almost inevitable. I don’t think we are yet on the brink of another civil war in the barely United States, but we are fast reaching the point. Since the campaign and election of Donald Trump, civilized political debate is becoming impossible. It is shouted down by the intense antagonisms that are spiraling out of control, their flames fanned by a president whose fragile ego and inner demons override any semblance of reason.

Like so many individuals with mental health issues, Trump has wide mood swings. There he was one night, outlining a new, albeit vague, Afghanistan policy. But at least he stuck to the teleprompter script. Then, just one night later, he was in Phoenix, addressing a rally of his supporters — and ignoring the prompter — to rant insanely about anything that crossed his angry mind.

He went on for over an hour, looking like someone badly in need of an exorcism. Then he departed, leaving supporters and their adversaries to snarl at each other. They did keep their guns holstered. This time.

But get this: Time marched on to the next day, and so had the mind of Donald Trump. Apparently he was back on his meds as he spoke to an American Legion gathering. Now he was talking national reconciliation: “It is time to heal the wounds that divide us and to seek a new unity based on the common values that unite us …” I kid you not, that’s what he said, just like it read on his prompter.

But then later he careened to the dark side again, sending out a Twitter storm that targeted his current usual enemies and included some bizarre retweets. It’s not worth the bother of describing them because the larger question is whether these are symptoms of some severe emotional problems.

The other possibility is that Trump, the consummate deal-maker, is employing one of the oldest tricks in the negotiating game: cognitive dissonance, aka “good cop-bad cop.” If so, Trump is playing both cops. We’d better hope so, because otherwise he’s crumbling before our eyes. The real news will be that he’s dragging our country into the abyss of that American versus American shootout.

© 2017 Bob Franken
Distributed by King Features Synd.