So I’m sitting here looking at pictures of Matthew Whitaker, our acting Attorney General. The stress is on the word acting, because the legality of his appointment is disputed, and, if we’re very, very lucky, he’ll be gone the time you read this (I’m writing on November 13th.)
But whether he goes or stays, what strikes me as I look at his image is that he works very hard to look, well, very hard. He shaves his head, he affects blocky suits that accent his build, and he almost never smiles. (The official portrait above is a rare exception, and even there he is hardly jolly.) The over all effect is that he looks a bit like Bond villain. Not the big guy at the top, but one of the more vicious henchmen, the hitman that 007 takes out the in the third act.
The question is why? Why go to all that trouble to look like a cheap gangster? And let’s face it. He has made that choice. He could look very different if he wished.
The answer: I think because he, like a lot of Trump’s minions, desperately wants to look like a tough guy. He wants people to be a little bit afraid of him. He wants to intimidate others. He wants, in other words, to look like a bully.
Which, given the number of people in the Trump’s administration who are rather the same way (though not so obviously), that is a very interesting thing. It means that the Trumpsters clutch their toughness like a security blanket. They must broadcast their steeliness by any means necessary and as far afield as possible.
But that brings up another question. To wit: what is it that they fear? Why are they so frightened that they have gone to such lengths to prevent anyone from seeing them as vulnerable?
I can’t say for certain. But, here’s a guess. Maybe it is the terror of being found out. Of being discovered to be hollow, and banal, and utterly insignificant…