The Universal Notebook: Deliver us from madmen

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As the world watched and waited for Vladimir Putin to make his move, you had to wonder what kind of madman would invade a neighboring country just to prevent it from joining NATO. All that potential death and destruction for an advantage at the bargaining table? 

Of course, Putin likely has undeclared, ulterior motives such as machismo, narcissism, or maybe even penis envy. Most of world history has little to do with empire building and military strategy and everything to do with warped male egos.

Edgar Allen BeemPersonally, I most fear the Big Bang Theory of madmen in power. That’s why Putin, Kim Jong Un, and Donald Trump scare me witless. They are the kind of deranged men who, should they suddenly see their own end in sight, might decide to take us all with them. All narcissism, no empathy.

Putin is said to be suffering from Parkinson’s disease and perhaps cancer. As he deteriorates, he may be asserting his grip on power to compensate for his own bodily weakness. The prospect of invading Ukraine may even arouse him.

Kim, as we all know, gets off on firing rockets into the Sea of Japan. He knows the world views him as an evil maniac, so sooner or later he’s apt to prove us right. This is, after all, a madman who had an uncle executed by an anti-aircraft gun firing squad. And Trump looks up to him.

Trump is the guy who inspired his followers to try to overthrow the 2020 election because he couldn’t stand losing. There have been several books written about his unbalanced mental state.

In “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump,” 27 psychiatrists and mental health professionals argued that Trump is both “delusional” and “emotionally fragile.” But you don’t need to be a psychiatrist to know that. His four years in office established his lunacy.

Trump described himself as a “very stable genius,” but, as with everything else in Trump World, just the opposite is true; he is a very unstable fool.

Now, as we watch Putin march into Ukraine, we can only imagine that Trump would be right there beside his man-crush were he still in office. The Trump-Fox News-MAGA wing of the Republican Party supports Putin and Russia while the rest of the free world supports Ukraine. Trust-fund yuppie Tucker Carlson is the head cheerleader for the Putin brigade and Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Missouri, who helped Trump spark the Jan. 6 coup attempt, sent a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken urging the U.S. to declare it will not support Ukraine joining NATO.

Putin claims there is a genocide going on in Ukraine in exactly the same way that Trump claims he won the 2020 election. There is not a shred of evidence of either. Both men are certifiable. Putin, however, is crazy like a fox, while Trump is crazy like a rabid fox. Putin knows what he is saying is a lie. Trump believes his own delusions.

Of course, good leaders have also suffered from mental illnesses. Lincoln was clinically depressed. Churchill was bipolar. And Kennedy was hyperthymic, which actually manifested itself in some positive ways: increased productivity, self-confidence, a strong will – and a very strong libido. 

What you don’t want in a world leader is a paranoid narcissist. That’s what Hitler and Stalin were and, unfortunately for us, so is Donald Trump.

Edgar Allen Beem has been writing The Universal Notebook weekly since 2003, first for The Forecaster and now for the Phoenix. He also writes the Art Seen feature.