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What’s the Opposite of Introspection?

August 8th, 2020 by dk

Our steady diet of Trump’s narcissistic ideations has demonstrated we need for a new verb. This became clear to me after watching President Obama give the eulogy at John Lewis’s funeral. Trump casts himself in every way the opposite of his professorial predecessor. Obama took Lewis’s funeral as an opportunity to introspect, but what is its opposite? Our current president extrospects.

Obama thinks about the world and his place in it. He doesn’t often reveal what he sees, but it’s clear to everyone that he’s doing it. Trump thinks about himself and then manifests a world where he is in the center. He clearly doesn’t realize how transparent he’s being.

When Obama was running for reelection, he was asked at a town hall meeting what had surprised him most after becoming president in 2008. Obama’s answer was pensive and profound. He was slow to recognize how powerful his voice had become. He had to learn to be cautious with every word. Trump takes the opposite tack, reveling in the commotion his words cause.

One bit of Obama’s eulogy has not drawn much attention, but it hints at how he’s been reflecting on his tenure. Americans must vote this fall to further the work of John Lewis. But then he went deeper. If Democrats to take control of the Senate, he called for them to end the filibuster.

He called the filibuster “another Jim Crow relic,” which may not be precisely true. The filibuster was not created by racists, but it certainly was effectively used by them. Thanks to the filibuster, the United States Senate has never voted against lynching crimes. Sen. Rand Paul foiled the latest attempt earlier this year.

We can’t be certain why Obama suggested that break with tradition, but we can guess. Is this the advice he wishes he’d gotten in 2008? If Harry Reid had eliminated the filibuster, legislation could have passed quickly in Obama’s first two years.

Democrats in 2008 were able to save the economy from a full-blown depression and formulate a health care bill. Then Ted Kennedy died and Republican Scott Brown replaced him. The Affordable Care Act was reworked as a budgetary bill, making it filibuster-proof, but also leaving it vulnerable to its current court challenges.

Reid eventually curtailed the filibuster modestly to prevent Republicans from obstructing everything. When Mitch McConnell then became the Senate Majority Leader, Pandora’s box was already open. He eliminated the filibuster for all court confirmations, enabling him to fill every available federal bench vacancy.

Meanwhile, Trump. He warns that the election could be stolen as he makes plans to steal it. He insists that he’s innocent of everything but has absolute immunity if he’s not. He calls the Postal Service a joke and then puts a joker in charge.

He describes the world as he wishes it to be and then marvels that he has the power to make it so. He has no inner world. Or, if he does, we’ve been living in it.

Karl Rove once claimed the George W. Bush administration was “creating new realities.” That extrospection must have piqued Trump’s interest.

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Don Kahle (fridays@dksez.com) writes a column each Friday for The Register-Guard and blogs at www.dksez.com.

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