Trump supporters reflexively insist President Donald Trump's critics have "Trump Derangement Syndrome" and that their only argument is "Orange Man Bad."
By nearly every objective metric, Trump's presidency has been a failure, and he has contributed to this country's partisan division perhaps more than any single person over the past decade, from his birther slanders to his idiotic anti-mask posturing.
The real TDS is Trumpists and anti-anti-Trumpers evaluating his presidency and saying, in the face of all evidence, "Orange Man Good."
This is an opinion column. The thoughts expressed are those of the author.
Trump supporters reflexively insist President Donald Trump's critics have "Trump Derangement Syndrome," a condition in which the mere mention of the 45th president's name induces fits of hysteria.
"Orange Man Bad," they'll say, as a dismissive conversation-ending put-down.
Both Trumpists and crypto-Trumpists see his critics as so unhinged that they're simply incapable of rational thought about the 45th president. To them, TDS sufferers might as well be breathing into a paper bag at the sound of his name, with "Orange Man Bad" the zombie-grunt of those chronically afflicted with TDS.
It's understandable that any criticism directed at Trump is dismissed as "TDS" from dyed-in-the-wool, MAGA-till-they-die Trumpists.
More infuriating are the anti-anti-Trumpers, right-leaning contrarians too embarrassed to admit they support such a fiscally irresponsible, defiantly unintelligent, conscience-bereft hypocrite. Trump's their guy, whatever superficial objections to his vulgarity they may voice, because they appreciate that he did tax reform, moved the US embassy to Jerusalem, and, most important, triggers the real bad guys — "the left."
By nearly every objective metric Trump's presidency has been a failure, and he has contributed to this country's partisan division perhaps more than any single person over the past decade, from his birther slanders to his idiotic anti-mask posturing.
That's why the real Trump Derangement Syndrome is these reluctant Trumpists' knee-jerk defense of Trump just because he "triggers the libs."
And the truly mindless response isn't a resistance liberal crying, "Orange Man Bad." It's disingenuous conservatives droning "Orange Man Good."
Trumpists wear magic glasses that make them see his presidency as successful
To the outwardly reluctant Trumpist fact-based indictments of Trump's disastrous presidency are merely the rantings of deranged socialists. These anti-anti-Trumpers fancy themselves the enlightened seers of Trump's establishment-obliterating 4-D chess strategy. But there are more important distinctions among the pro-Trump camps.
Some Trump voters see in Joe Biden a "Weekend at Bernie's" candidate. He's a walking corpse, a puppet of the socialist left that will be the real power behind his presidency. (There are exactly five self-described democratic socialists in the 535-member Congress.)
To their minimally earned credit, at least their argument isn't "Trump's been a good president."
It's more that they see Trump as the bulwark against the culturally liberal George Soros-funded forces that will raise taxes to pay for abortions, send antifa stormtroopers to burn down the suburbs, and permanently open America's borders to caravans of "dirty" immigrants.
That's a political calculus not moored in reality, but it at least concedes the motivation isn't so much an affirmation of Trump's presidency as it is an expression of their brain-crippling fear of what the "bad Americans" will do when they're in power.
The truly deranged pro-Trump argument is one which was eloquently analyzed by Kevin Williamson in the conservative National Review:
"The unqualified — and indefensible — case for Trump goes: 'Donald Trump's presidency has been good for America — positively, on its own merits, rather than merely relative to what we might have expected from Mrs. Clinton.' That argument is partly dishonest, partly delusional."
Put another way, there is no real case for a second Trump term, no matter how liberal or conservative you may be, except for — say it with me — "Orange Man Good."
Defending the indefensible to own the libs
For voters whose sole concern is abortion-hostile federal judges and a couple generations of a right-leaning Supreme Court, this doesn't apply to you. Trump — the corrupt philanderer who mocks evangelicals behind their backs — has given you what you voted for.
But if things such as free trade, the national debt, robust foreign policy, scientific advancement, or the basic machinery of a competently run government are of any import — and you're still insistent that Trump has been a good president — you might be experiencing Trump Derangement Syndrome of the "Orange Man Good" variety.
Trump is flagrantly corrupt
Ever since Trump burst into the national conscious in the 1980s he's stiffed hundreds of other working people — from construction companies to dishwashers — on countless occasions over the years. He's also dripping with a history of corrupt chicanery.
So while Trump desperately wants to talk about Hunter Biden, Burisma, and some guy named Bobulinski, the last thing he wants to talk about is how he and his talentless children have shamelessly used his presidency to enhance their own financial interests.
It's an election year, so it's probably worth recalling that time he was impeached for trying to strong-arm a foreign leader into investigating a political opponent. Even honest Republicans admitted that was corrupt as hell, but fearing their "Orange Man Good" constituents, had to qualify that it wasn't "remove from office" corrupt.
Books will be written detailing just how many conflicts of interest Trump has exploited as president, but none is more in-your-face than the Trump International Hotel — a veritable swamp of influence-peddling, heavily subsidized by the American taxpayer, barely more than a mile from the White House.
Trump's coronavirus response was, and continues to be, criminally negligent
Trump initially denied the coronavirus existed.
Then he said it would go away like magic. Then he said we have it under control. Then he explicitly said we should slow down testing because the numbers were making him look bad.
Then he attacked the scientists and suggested that injecting bleach might be a good idea. Then he said masks were bad and lockdowns tyrannical. Then he said we're "rounding the corner," which he's insisted over and over and over for the past eight months. Then he got COVID.
Now his chief of staff Mark Meadows admits they've just given up.
In between all that, Trump put his son-in-law Jared Kushner in charge of securing the nation's restocking of personal protective equipment.
Kushner in turn tasked a small group of resourceless 20-somethings with personal laptops and Gmail accounts to do all the work. It didn't go well.
A recent study out of Columbia University estimated that at least half of the US death toll could have been avoided if the US had used the same COVID-mitigating policies and protocols as Canada. That didn't happen, and now 220,000 Americans and counting have died of the virus, and we couldn't escape to Canada if we tried.
Objectively, Trump is a liar, and he's incompetent, and he's caused untold destruction to his country. You'd have to be deranged to look at the available evidence and come to a more charitable conclusion.
Trump is the greatest promoter of left-wing identity-politics-driven 'wokeness'
If "wokeness" didn't exist we'd have to invent it because Donald Trump is president.
A certain portion of Trump voters claim to be put off by his Twitter feed and his shambolic press conferences, but in Trump they see the only bulwark against what they believe to be existential threats to Western civilization — identity politics, critical race theory, and other elements of progressive wokeness.
At times I've been vocally critical of certain punitive deployments of woke politics, particularly the variety that cancels first and asks questions later, thinks dissenting ideas are inherently problematic, or rationalizes theft and violence as righteous instruments of justice.
But as Andrew Sullivan, a far more strident critic of what he calls "left illiberalism," aptly put it this week: "Trump has facilitated, exacerbated and legitimized wokeness more than any other figure on the right or left. He has made anti-wokeness toxic by association."
In a world where this guy is the president, of course woke opposition would gain greater credibility and influence.
Trump is a sadistic thug and a sniveling coward
But among the few senior staffers to survive the entire administration is the white-nationalist Stephen Miller. Trump put him in charge of directing immigration policy and border enforcement, which included zero-tolerance prosecution of the misdemeanor crime of illegal border crossing, and the deliberate separation of children from their parents.
Now we know that the Trump administration lost track of 545 of those kids' parents. (If you're a "Save the Children" pro-life conservative for Trump, maybe read the previous sentence again.)
His ham-fisted "Muslim ban" disrupted thousands of lives, including American citizens', for no other reason than because the administration hoped — as Steve Bannon put it — "the snowflakes would show up at the airports and riot."
Trump is also your dangerously gullible uncle on Facebook. It doesn't matter how implausible the conspiracy theory, he's the target audience. His Twitter account is a national embarrassment, larded with hysterical tantrums, hoax conspiracy theories, and retweets of QAnoners, anti-Semites, and miscellaneous internet scumbags.
Another book can be written on all the asinine conspiracy theories Trump has tacitly endorsed — and how much damage was wrought by violent idiots who believe in the church of Trump.
But among the most despicable lies Trump has propagated is the slanderous accusation that MSNBC host Joe Scarborough murdered an aide two decades ago — who in fact tragically died at 28 in a freak accident as a result of an undiagnosed medical malady.
The deceased woman's family has kept mum about the leader of the free world pushing the theory that a famous man murdered their loved one, because they know how vicious and legitimately dangerous Trump's online minions can be.
Trump's brand is cruelty, but what his myopic supporters miss is that, like all bullies, he is a sniveling coward who rejects any honest inquiry that might reveal his lies, corruption, and incompetence.
Trump's idea of what makes America 'great' is un-American
Trumpists believe the president loves America, so much so that he wants to make it great again. Or keep it great. Or kick out all the people who don't like America, because the only good criticism of America is "Make America Great Again."
Sure, Trump started and lost a pointless trade war with China, then used taxpayer money to bail out the American industries battered by his trade war of choice.
And yes, he might disrespect the military by insulting veterans as "suckers," disparaging the generals under his command as "pussies," and using the armed forces as political props for a pre-election stunt.
But, many Trumpists argue, at least Trump respects free speech, unlike the censorious authoritarians on the left.
Trump has been an opponent of the First Amendment for his entire public life, openly musing that it should be easier to sue journalists for libel, while his campaign attacks media outlets with potentially ruinous lawsuits for running unflattering op-eds and political ads.
Even his nominal attempts at protecting speech are Trojan horses for censorship, such as his executive orders protecting conservative speech on college campuses while labeling other speech as beyond the pale.
Trump's recent EO regarding social-media companies was applauded by the right as a necessary pushback against Big Tech censorship, but as Adam Serwer put it in The Atlantic: "Trump's goal, though, is not honest debate. It is censorship. If the tech companies do not promote his propaganda, or maintain his exemption from their own rules, they will be punished."
'Orange Man Good'
Trump got elected by demonizing Muslims and Mexicans, supposedly to assuage the "economic anxiety" of a subset of working class Americans. How times have changed.
The president has enough self-awareness to know he has no political principles or guiding philosophy besides his own personal enrichment. Trump knows he can only appeal to fear and anger. That's why the supposed "American carnage" of 2016 is now packaged to the MAGA masses as the terror of antifa, wokeness, and lockdowns.
That's his only move because his presidency has been catastrophic and the damage he has done to this country is incalculable.
I can already see my Twitter mentions filling up with green frogs and TDS memes. But I have sympathy for the deranged.
Trumpism is a nihilistic cult believing in one falsifiable maxim: Orange Man Good.
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