I thought North Korea and Kim Jong-un could do nothing more to surprise me. I wouldn’t be surprised if they launched a missile at Guam, at China or at me. But now they have officials contacting Americans close to President Donald Trump for help in figuring him out. Trumpology is a thing in North Korea now.
Remember Kremlinology? Back before cable TV, when saber-toothed tigers roamed the forests of Seattle, every network news department consulted American Kremlinologists to read how the Soviet leadership was shifting and what they were planning. They’d scour Pravda and Izvestia and other news outlets like Krasnaya Zvezda. Kremlinologists would analyze pictures showing who stood where at military reviews for hints at who the next premier might be. It never worked, but it was more fun than divining livestock entrails, especially for the chicken.
Now it’s Trumpology. Isn’t that what all of us have been practicing? When he started filling his Cabinet, people thought, “Oh, so that’s what he was saying he’d do” and they went back to campaign speeches saying what he’d do and matching the words up with the actual choices, and, using lines and graphs and compasses and little tiny notes in fine ink in margins, made giant satisfying diagrams that explained nothing.
Now Twitter may replace the 140 character limit with a 280-character limit. Will that help? Will it just double noise, or also increase signal? For every Trump-tweet that would have ended with “Sad,” might we get long strings of “Sad, sad, sad”? Then, we could count the sads and correlate the sad-count to the mood of the next press conference.
Trumpology offers a mind-reset. During the 2016 campaign, antagonism was natural. Everything he does and says, being unremittingly awful, provokes antagonism. It gets boring. Sure, sometimes I’m in the mood to watch reruns of “The Gong Show” or “The Jerry Springer Show.” But now and then it’s nice to settle in with a crossword puzzle, or watch “Jeopardy,” or listen to Shields and Brooks sound intelligent.
Trumpology might help me understand what Trump has been trying to do lately in connection with major league sports and anthem protests. OK, I’m overstating the case for Trumpology. No, it won’t help to understand, but you’ll feel better afterward than you would have felt if you spent the same time angry at the clips of Trump’s speeches on the subject.
Now he’s suggesting to his supporters that they boycott the NFL until the league starts firing players who kneel during the national anthem. What does he think a boycott will accomplish? Is “think” an appropriate word in this context? Do we care if Trump supporters go to football games? Wouldn’t that just make the games better for everyone else?
For the last 45 years of my life, I have not attended a single football game. One reason is I don’t care for a lot of the company. It isn’t terribly fun to be sitting next to some oafs who can only remain quiet during the anthem and spend the rest of the time piercing my eardrums, shouting as if they were drunks ringside at a WWE tag-team match. Is it wrong of me to assume that such oafs are now almost all Trump supporters? I’m not saying that all Trump supporters are such oafs, that’s definitely false, but that if all the Trump supporters boycott the NFL, the oafs will be gone. Maybe people like me could take the empty seats. Maybe the ticket prices would come down. Who would that hurt?
Meanwhile, what about Kimology? Kim’s foreign minister just asserted North Korea’s right to destroy U.S. bombers even if they aren’t in North Korean airspace. Let’s read this with an analytical mindset. Not only does he say it doesn’t matter whether the bombers destroyed were in North Korea’s airspace, he doesn’t really even make clear whether it matters if they were in the air at all! The translations say he’s talking about shooting them down, which would indicate they’d have to be up to be shot at, but could that have been a mistranslation? Is it a hint that Guam’s airbase is going to be attacked soon?
Isn’t asking questions like that more fun than freaking out about an impending conflagration? Analysis can be a fine tranquilizer. Try it! Works for White people all the time.
Dr. Wes Browning is a one time math professor and three times homeless. He has been involved with Real Change since he supplied the art for the first cover in November of 1994. This is his weekly column Adventures in Irony, a dry verbal romp of the absurd.
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