If you’re a fan of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, you might know The D.E.N.N.I.S. System. It’s a sendup of Pick Up Artists (PUA) and their much-more-nerdy-than-they-want-to-admit systems of picking up girls (mostly) at nightclubs.
If you didn’t know already, the character of Dennis Reynolds is a narcissistic psychopath. While most television and movie psychopaths are depicted as being charming and manipulative, Dennis has more in common with real life narcissistic psychopaths than Hannibal Lecter and Dexter. He has a grandiose view of himself, but an emptiness inside him that he unsuccessfully tries to fill with sex, violence, and drugs. He thinks he can and has the right to control other people, and is frustrated when other people don’t do what he wants them to do. Also, keep in mind that Frank Reynolds, his legal father, made millions by screwing his business partners, which certainly taught Dennis how little to value other peoples’ feelings. With that as background,
Now, this is not going to be about the efficacy or morality of these systems in real life. This is more a thought experiment or an exploration of parody. Is President Trump following The D.E.N.N.I.S. System?
What is The D.E.N.N.I.S. System?
Trump, as a candidate, demonstrated his value by being The Donald. As a businessman, he was so-so. With the money and connections he had starting out, it was impossible for him to fail. (He got his start, so the joke goes, delivering newspapers from his father’s limo—oh wait, that’s not a joke?) He had some successes, but many failures, and was most successful when he was able to use other people’s money to buy and fix up real estate. But while Donald Trump the businessman will never pay for a meal he doesn’t have to, The Donald, host of The Apprentice and mascot to the Trump brand, is a billionaire who never wavers under adversity, and is never wrong. He has his name plastered on buildings around the world, and his face is on TV every week as the host and judge of a reality television show. Surely, he must be better than all of us, right?
Putting aside any references to the unwanted pussy grabbing, how can a person physically engage a country? He did it by traveling the country campaigning. He kissed hands and shook babies hardest in the battleground states, but he did it in 46 states (Neither Clinton or Trump visited Idaho, Wyoming, Hawaii, or Alaska). His largest campaign rally was in Mobile, AL, with 28,000 supporters. He got out there, you can’t deny it.
Trump made some big campaign promises. He is an expert at branding. His persona of toughness and Clint Eastwood manly-man-ness made people believe that he was the only one capable of protecting The United States from all its many enemies that were sneaking in. It could be Mexicans sneaking in across the border, or Isis militants hiding among the refugees from Syria. He was going to keep them OUT OUT OUT! And he was going to be on the offensive—he was going to “bomb the shit” out of Isis. Never mind that Obama was already setting records by dropping over 26,000 bombs in seven countries, Trump was the only man man enough, the only man who wasn’t corrupt like those crooked politicians, only a businessman can save America. He worked the narrative of the crooked politician vs the brilliant businessman and worked it hard. And it worked.
The next step is Neglect emotionally and Inspire hope. In other words, gas-lighting. This is where Trump is now. One minute, he’s hiring a fast-talking lawyer to be his mouthpiece, the next minute, he’s firing that very person. He hires Elon Musk as an advisor, only to have Musk resign. Trump fires FBI James Comey when he realizes he can’t push him around, only to put pressure on special counsel Robert Mueller to step back because of Mueller’s relationship to Comey. And, of course, he’s doing it to our side too. We think he’s done for, that Republicans will finally snap, and they don’t. And the smartest thing Trump has done in the past two years is to have a vice president who is such a religious nut job he won’t even have dinner alone with a woman besides his wife. So, we liberals are always second-guessing ourselves and arguing over who would be worse.
Which brings us to the next step, which will be to Separate entirely. At this stage, it’s impossible to predict what that will mean. He may be the first former president to have a prominent guest role at Wrestlemania, or he may simply become a guest speaker at conservative events and fundraisers. Whether he avoids the harsh glare of the spotlight, goes back to hosting television shows, or even ends up in jail, is yet to be seen.
Wow. We did it. We managed to keep satire one step further than real life. For now. If I see Trump getting out an easel and propping up a giant sign for the T.R.U.M.P. system, I’ll know where he got it from.