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Uday and Qusay Trump motif traces back to Bill Maher

[ by Charles Cameron — more striking examples of form in the news, “pressed down and flowing over” ]

Michael Wolff‘s book Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House has been quoted extensively, but one accusation struck me forcibly, both because of its viciousnes and because it has a formal property of double, parallel construction. The comparison was between Trump‘s sons Donald Jr. and Eric, and Saddam‘s sons, Uday and Qusay:

Don Jr. and Eric — behind their backs known to Trump insiders as Uday and Qusay, after the sons of Saddam Hussein — wondered if there couldn’t somehow be two parallel White House structures, one dedicated to their father’s big-picture views, personal appearance and salesmanship, and the other concerned with day-to-day management issues.

Crudely but vividly put in a Pinterest graphgc [I’ve reduced its scale, but you get the idea]:


Under the header, Maher Rips Trump Sons — Calls Them ‘Uday and Qusay’, Breitbart reported in September 2016 what seems to me most likely the original source of Wolff’s unsourced remark:

On the Friday airing of HBO’s “Real Time,” host Bill Maher slammed the two sons of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, Donald Trump, Jr. and Eric Trump.

Maher partially cited a Trump quote from his 2008 book, “Think Big,” which he used as a segue to attack the Trump children.

“Donald Trump also once said, ’Sometimes people will come into my office and they will be great. They will look great, they’ll sound great, they dress beautifully. Everything is great. Then after you hire them they turn out to be morons,’ which explains his sons Uday and Qusay.”

“I mean Trump, Sr. at the what House is bad enough without these two American psychos putting plastic over the furniture so that they can axe murder prostitutes while discussing Phil Collins,” he continued.

According to Breitbart, then, Maher would seem to be the ur-source — with just a hint that Trump himself may be partially responsible at that:

which explains his sons Uday and Qusay.

The Trump sourcing strikes me as so attenuated as to be worthless, but the tie to Maher seems undeniable — whether it’s Wolff’s only source or not.


Here are a couple of other items in the news which have caught my eye on account of their formal propeties. Here, from Real clear Politics, is the first:

President Trump said there was no collusion between himself on the Russians, but there was collusion between Hillary Clinton and the Russians and the Democratic National Committee and the Russians.

That strrikes me as a clear instance of what psychologists term projectionAri Melber writes in his intro to psychologist Dr. Justin Frank, who discusses the issue with him:

Trump uses ‘projection’ as a defense tactic

Trump is an expert at projecting his own faults onto his political rivals as a defense mechanism

There are plenty of other arguable examples of Trump’s likely instinctive use of projection, but to my mind the most powerful are those that use the same words or phrases — eg: “collusion between [self, other] and the Russians” — in a short span to contrast the denial [against self] and accusation {against the other].

It’s a widely-found psychological trick — and a beautiful formal setup. The saying about “the pot calling the kettle black” summarizes it nicely, as Ari Melber obviously knows:

And dig this example:


A second form to keep an eye out for, and one of my own favorites, is the serpent-bites-its-tail motif, or ouroboros.

Discussing Trump saying he’llannounce his “Dishonest and Corrupt Media Awards” tomorroww:–

“I will be announcing THE MOST DISHONEST & CORRUPT MEDIA AWARDS OF THE YEAR on Monday at 5:00 o’clock,” Trump wrote. “Subjects will cover Dishonesty & Bad Reporting in various categories from the Fake News Media. Stay tuned!

Everyone in comedy took immediate advantage, proposing themslves (!) for awards:

but it was Ari Melber, host of MSNBC’s The Beat, who nailed the ouroboric implications of Trump’s challenge with this question:

Will he be physically able to give an award to anyone other than himself?

It may not feature groovy graphics, like the two late-night comedians’ tweets do — but that explicit Trumpian self-reference really stings!

Enough. I’m getting dizzy, and that’s something my doctors would scribble about it I mentioned it. Gotta save them pencil-wear — I’m not so simple as a list of symptoms, added to a single numbered diagnosis,

5 Responses to “Uday and Qusay Trump motif traces back to Bill Maher”

  1. Charles Cameron Says:

    I didn’t want to intrerrupt the dizzying (at least to me) flow above, but here are some readings on Trump and projection, aka defensive mirroring:
    Psychologicl projection:

    Psychological projection is a theory in psychology in which humans defend themselves against their own unconscious impulses or qualities (both positive and negative) by denying their existence in themselves while attributing them to others. For example, a person who is habitually intolerant may constantly accuse other people of being intolerant.

    RCP, Trump: The Only Collusion Was Between Hillary Clinton And The Russians
    Peter Beinart, The Projection President
    James Fallows, Why does Trump ‘Project” so much — a hypothesis
    Steve Benen, Donald Trump’s fondness for projection proves to be a problem

  2. Charles Cameron Says:

    I suspect the phenomenon of Blaming the Jews for Acting Like Nazis is a kindred phenomenon to projection / mirroring.
    Need to get my concepts straight, which is not assisted by my daily doses of memory-sapping medicines. I had a fall today, trying to save my computer from my bowl of tomato soup — I think I was more concerned for the soup. Anyway, they had to write the episode up and report it up to the Joint Nursing Command. I hope they don’t cut off my supply of hot chocolate!

  3. Zen Says:

    Well projection aside, the two situations are not the same, yet both are troubling.
    Officials with the Trump campaign and Trump family at various times and purported reasons met with Russian officials and businessmen with ties to Russian intelligence agencies and/or Russian organized crime or had conflicts of interest that would make them subject to influence or blackmail.
    Hillary and Bill Clinton’s foundation and former President Clinton personally solicited and received multimillion dollar donations or fees from foreign governments and state corporations – including Russia – while these entities had important business before the State Department while HRC was SECSTATE. These funds were not used in their entirety for the purposes reported to the IRS either but that’s small beer.
    Which is worse? That’s not the right question. The correct question is why are either of these situations considered acceptable and tolerable by half of the respective electorate? Why aren’t both viewed as deal-breakers by everyone?

  4. Charles Cameron Says:

    Trump Delays Fake News Awards

    U.S. President Donald Trump has postponed his “Fake News Awards” to later in the month, instead of Monday so he can attend the college national championship football game.
    Trump tweeted last week that he would be “announcing THE MOST DISHONEST & CORRUPT MEDIA AWARDS OF THE YEAR on Monday at 5:00 o’clock. Subjects will cover Dishonesty and Bad Reporting in various categories from the Fake News Media. Stay tuned!”
    Trump had promised to hold the mock awards show to castigate mainstream news organizations for their coverage of his presidency. But now his fans and the journalists will have to wait another 10 days.
    On Sunday, Trump tweeted: “The Fake News Award, those going to the most corrupt and biased of the Mainstream Media, will be presented to the losers on Wednesday, January 17th, rather than this coming Monday. The interest in and importance of, these awards is far greater than anyone could have anticipated.”

  5. Grurray Says:

    The issue with how to combine big picture views and day to day administration is an inherent problem with the presidency because the president serves as both the Head of State and Head of Government. Formulating a plan to deal with it doesn’t sound like a bad idea. It would be similar to a Cheng/Chi dazzle/stroke strategy that Chet Richards writes about.
    To Zen’s question, scale is the issue. Flynn was an advisor. Trump Jr is a nice bumbler. Most reasonable people recognized they couldn’t do too much damage, and they were right. The system worked and caught them.
    Bill and Hillary, on the other hand, put the whole world at risk with their immense global pay-to-play operation. Since they’re above the law, the system can’t contain any damage they do.

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