Sadistic bully

39. His cruelty knows no bounds

The phenomenon of bullying has many facets and is hard to sum up succinctly. Bullies abuse people they believe to be weaker or more vulnerable than themselves. Their exact motivation may vary, but it often involves the perception of difference or otherness. For some reason—perhaps they learned it from parents or older siblings—people who seem different from them in some identifiable way tend to make them angry. The topic of school bullying has received much attention in recent years, and rightly so; it’s a continuing problem that ruins, even ends, young lives. But what about bullies who don’t outgrow their abusive behavior when they become adults? This happens all too often, it seems. A significant percentage of them run for public office. At least one of them has become president.

That president’s name rhymes with “chump,” and he fits the definition of a bully to a T. Of eleven common characteristics of bullies, DT checks ten of the boxes. (The one involving physical strength is irrelevant when someone has control of thousands of law enforcement agents ready to do his bidding.) His behavior has often been described as infantile or toddler-like, and there is some aptness to that characterization, but I think it misses the mark. What he reminds me most of is the classic schoolyard bully: angry, intolerant, duplicitous, and either indifferent to the damage he inflicts on his victims or openly gleeful about it. His attitude toward women and minorities ranges from condescending to outright sadistic. His policy decisions toward those groups are nothing short of cruel.

How did he get to be that way? Three-word answer: I don’t care. For those who are interested in the psychology of these things, Mary L. Trump’s book, Too Much and Never Enough, provides some useful insights. Yet in the end it doesn’t matter. There are no time machines, so we can’t go back and change history and give DT a happy, healthy childhood in the hope it would lead to a different outcome. Nor can we use the knowledge of causation to treat his long-entrenched emotional disorders and encourage him to turn over a new leaf. Much like the coronavirus pandemic, he is what he is. All we can do—and we must do it—is vote him out of office so that his bullying of the nation and the world will end promptly in less than four months’ time. Otherwise, we’ll have four more years of him upping the ante, and civil society will be in tatters, if it survives at all.

Escalations and extended metaphors

Let’s face it: this schoolyard bully isn’t content with inflicting a little pain and suffering on select victims. It’s now perfectly clear that he intends to burn down the school, with everybody except his fellow bullies and their sniveling sycophants trapped inside. The fire exits are chained and padlocked, the windows out of reach for nearly everyone. It’s not clear whether any effective fire suppression methods will be possible. Someone’s been tampering with the sprinkler system, and half the fire extinguishers have gone missing.

The alarm system is working—or is it?