Let me begin with two unrelated thoughts:
1. Finally watched The Irishman Saturday.
2. The president has 71 million Twitter followers.
1. I steer clear of writing movie reviews, mainly because in my own house, with only two (re)viewers, it’s hard to arrive at consensus. And even though this time we both agreed that The Irishman was terrific, well, again, I steer clear of movie reviews.
But watching that film reminded me of how well the Godfather series and The Sopranos portrayed the minds of criminals, and reminded me again of how something in our nature allows us to root for the most despicable human beings (the Corleones, Tony Soprano) so long as they’re fictional, and yet to despise them in real life.
(I’m getting to number 2, really.)
When I wrote Absolute Truth in 2014, I did have a legitimate “bad guy” and I’m as satisfied as I allow myself to be with my portrayal of him. But if I were writing the novel again, he would have a more significant role, and there would be more opportunities to see inside his head, to follow the thought processes that allow him to justify the most heinous acts. I thank Twitter and the president for those insights.
So now number 2. If you don’t follow Trump on Twitter, you are missing out; for if you want a clearer understanding (thought not a feel-good experience) of how the lizard brain functions, you must read his tweets. It’s the most direct entrance into the thought processes of a man consumed by aggression, dominance, and territoriality. It is, like many of the characters in The Irishman, the quintessence of the criminal viewpoint. It's a world most of us choose not to live in, and when it impinges upon us, we are often uncomfortable...or we call the cops. In that world loyalty exists only out of fear and intimidation. Look at the Republican senators—consiglieri traipsing along behind the boss.
Fear and intimidation—it is endemic and pervasive. Here, for instance, is Trump tweeting about Adam Schiff:
He will pay the price.
Marie Yovanovitch should be taken out.
Was that Paulie Walnuts talking? Nope, just Trump.
Last week Mike Pompeo, a member of the “family,” lashed out at an NPR reporter who asked him questions about Ukraine, questions, which if answered truthfully, would have implicated (and annoyed the hell out of) the boss. So Pompeo, (West Point, 1986, Harvard Law, 1994) screamed at her in a fusillade of vulgarities, then issued a statement about the unhinged media. Another criminal strategy: when caught, blame others. Pompeo’s accusations of the reporter’s dishonesty are laughable (witnesses and emails repudiate his claims) , but in the world of Trump, laughable is not a deal breaker. Laughable is forgotten in a few moments as the next lie approaches.
Full disclosure: despite my suggestion that you follow Trump on Twitter, there are many days I do not check his tweets...or anyone's. Nevertheless, as a window into the thought processes of a disturbed, amoral, and dangerous mind, @realdonaldtrump is an eye-opener, especially when he readily admits, it’s the real Donald Trump. I can believe it—I remember the real Michael Corleone and the real Tony Soprano, and believe me, I liked being separated from them by the camera, the TV screen, and reality.