subscribe: Posts | Comments      Facebook      Email Steve

Clarence Thomas and Lindsay Graham: Two basket cases


People assume that politicians take stances based on their beliefs, but sometimes, where they stand on an issue is a matter of psychology, not rational analysis.

There are two politicians in particular whom I’ve watched for a long period of time, both of whom seem to have mental imbalances that force them to take extreme, peculiar positions. One is Lindsay Graham; the other is Clarence Thomas.

Now, all of this is my opinion only, but this is my blog, and I have the right to express my opinions. So here goes.

I believe Lindsay Graham is a closeted homosexual. I’m not alone in this belief. It’s circulated in the rumor mill for many years. And I think this accounts for Graham’s relationship with Donald Trump, a relationship that’s perceived by many as bizarre and unhealthy. Closeted homosexuals are afraid to come out because they think doing so would hurt them. There’s nothing immoral about being afraid to come out. I was afraid to come out for a long time. I have enormous sympathy for “Auntie Lindsay.”

But hiding in the closet—while it may achieve the goal of avoiding being hurt—takes its toll in enormously costly ways. The energy one expends to having to hide is exhausting. One lie leads to another; pretty soon, the entire personality complex rests on the most fragile of foundations. The hiding soul recognizes the precariousness of its situation; it’s caught between a rock and a hard place: It can’t come out because it’s afraid to, but it can’t remain in hiding because to do so is tearing it apart. Living a lie is hard.

What many people do under such circumstances is what psychology calls “identifying with the aggressor.” This is a defense mechanism by which the victim (in this case, the closeted Graham) develops a feeling of gratitude and even love for the victimizer, in this case, Trump, a man who, by his actions and words, has sided with the deeply homophobic wing of the Republican Party. Trump and his homophobic allies—individuals like Franklin Graham, Ralph Reed and Jerry Falwell, Jr.—represent an existential threat to Auntie Lindsay’s safety, and Trump, as the boss of Republicans, is the mafia don who protects and enables his homophobic consiglieres. If Auntie Lindsay weren’t deathly afraid of being outed, he would denounce Trump and the homophobes, as all decent people already do. But Lindsay is deathly afraid of being outed; he thus bonds with his tormenters. This is a survival strategy: “If I treat them with respect, they’ll leave me alone,” is how Lindsay’s thinking goes. And so the more homophobic Trump and his homophobes get, the more Auntie Lindsay bonds with them. There’s no way out for Lindsay: we should feel sorry for him.

In Clarence Thomas’s case, there’s ample evidence he’s a self-hating Black man. His identification with the aggressor takes the form of siding with the most regressive elements of American society. In almost every case he’s ruled on, he’s shown sympathy for those who would take us back to pre-civil rights days. The shock of a Black jurist siding with white nationalists and states’-rights extremists is understandable; many have wondered why Thomas takes the positions he does. The explanation can only be that his discomfort with himself is so profound that he has transitioned from being the victim (of racism in this case) to being the aggressor (of other minorities in this case). It’s as if Clarence’s reasoning goes like this: “I can’t change my skin color, much as I might want to. But what I can do is act like a thuggish, brutal white nationalist. In that way, I can get as close to being white as I can, while necessarily remaining black.”

I suspect that most Trump supporters suffer from some similar form of mental illness. There’s no other way to account for it. It used to be that Americans elected the man they admired morally, ethically and personally. George Washington earned the esteem of his colleagues for being the most upright man most of them had ever met. Abraham Lincoln was opposed politically by many, even his fellow Republicans, during his presidency, but no one ever doubted his moral decency; he was “Honest Abe,” and that was enough to get him re-elected. Franklin Delano Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan—all were widely admired for their character, their integrity, the way they carried themselves, inspiring others and exemplifying the highest ideals of personhood.

And now, we have this disaster: a morally corrupt man, clearly unbalanced, with the ethical instincts of a skunk. There can be no explanation for supporting him, other than that his supporters are themselves deeply sick. But this is how dictatorships begin: the dictator strikes a satanic deal with the people: “I will express your deepest loathings, the feelings you are most ashamed of, your hatreds and resentments. I will give voice to them, and I will smash your enemies. All you have to do, in turn, is give me your souls.”

Lindsay Graham and Clarence Thomas have done just that. We should pray for them both. At the same time, we can’t be content to merely pray. We have to act.

  1. Bob Rossi says:

    “And now, we have this disaster: a morally corrupt man, clearly unbalanced, with the ethical instincts of a skunk.”
    Steve, I think you’re being very unfair to skunks. They’re adorable creatures, and don’t let loose with their ultimate weapon unless they’re threatened and have no escape. Contrast that with Trump.

  2. Dear Bob Rossi, I thought of alternatives to skunks: weasels, cockroaches, badgers, and in the end, I realize it would be unfair to any of them. So I stuck with skunks. Thanks.

Leave a Reply


Recent Comments

Recent Posts