Back over a year ago or so, I was talking with my friend Myles Berkowitz, who I've mentioned here many times. (a filmmaker and writer-director-star of the movie 20 Dates, the inventor of LifeSize diet product; political worker, fundraising guru, entrepreneur, real estate something or other, professional Dad's Club president, and more.) Despite his insistence to the contrary, his politics are not libertarian as he says they are. He is, instead, a Mylsist, following a political foundation known to no one else in the world. It is part very liberal, part a touch conservative, quite a bit libertarian certainly, and it also follows positions unknown to most mortal men. And twists them all together. He occasionally begins a sentence, "I know you'll disagree with this and scream at me..." and more often than not, I say, "No, I actually agree," which tends to stun him. In fact, I agree with him about 60% of the time. Maybe 25% of the time, it's worth considering. And the remaining 15%, while I may disagree, I always admire his thinking that gets him to that place. His ideas don't appear randomly, everything is given intense thought (giving rise to my oft-used admonition, "You are seriously over-thinking this, and driving yourself deep into the weeds.") He is a Mylsist.
Another phrase that begins many of his sentences is, "You know what I'd do if I was in his place..." -- and I always stop him now and stay how much I dearly love that lead-in, because what follows is always a joy. It's usually something that's incredibly smart, and has absolutely no practical bearing. "That's great, Myles, it makes perfect sense," is usually the first part of my reply. The second part generally is one of the following: "You do know, of course, that you'd be..." -- and here you can fill in the blank -- "fired immediately / thrown out of the building / never re-elected for public office / sued / arrested for disturbing the peace / beaten to a pulp." To which, to his credit, he usually laughs and says, "Yeah, probably."
I actually don't get into a screaming match with him over this outlandish ideas. As I said, even when I disagree, he has really smart thinking that gets him there. The only time I find myself yelling at him is when he says something that's, in fact, incredibly fair-minded, thoroughly disagreeing with Trump or a Trump flunky, but trying to figure out how they could instead possibly have made a somewhat-similar point but done so in a sane way that would make sense and not be racist or misogynistic or fascist. I've finally begun to scream at those and cut him off, because I can't deal with the over-reaching attempt to to explain the inexplicable. My response is generally along the lines of, "MYLES!! STOP!!! I can't take it anymore! Quit trying to figure out what they should have said. We KNOW what they 'should have said,' but they Don't Ever Say That because they're racists and misogynists and fascists. Which is why they say the hate-filled things they do! So, trying to figure out what they should have said is pointless. You are getting lost in the weeds. Stop it!! Stop it now!!!!!!!" And usually, to his credit, he laughs (Myles laughs a lot) and says, "Yeah, you're right."
Two days ago, Myles called me up. He said he had checked out my website here and caught up on a lot of what I'd been writing lately. (It did not pass my observation that this meant he doesn't read my site here often, a point I mentioned. In fairness, he doesn't have to since we discuss so much of what I'm going to write anyway that he has a pretty good idea. But still -- that's no excuse. But I digress...) And he said, "Y'know, I didn't realize you write as much as you do. You have an article every single day. Sometimes even two. And after reading all these articles you have here all the time -- I finally see why you yell at me to stop trying to figure out what Trump and his people 'should' have said. When I do that, I see why it sort of makes your head explode."
"Yes, Myles. That's it," I replied. And yes, he laughed. ("And by the way, you should read my site more often.")
I must add too that in the recent California primary, his ex-wife from years back was on the ballot. (And no, I won't say for which race.) Myles is still in touch with her, and -- bizarre as it may seem -- even was giving her advice for her campaign. (I told you he dabbled in politics. I left out that he's a mensch, though I've explained that in other articles. An annoying mensch, but a mensch nonetheless.) I told him, however, that I couldn't vote for her. And didn't. And since she made the November ballot, I won't. For all the positive things he told me about her, I said that I couldn't vote for someone who divorced him. It wasn't just because of the general principle of friendship, it was more that, to me, it showed a profound lack of judgement on her part...
I bring all this up for two reasons. One is that I enjoy writing about Myles when the spirit moves me, since he's such a unique piece of work. The other is because of that conversation I mentioned in the first sentence above that we had 10 months ago or so.
That's when he gave me one of this theories. I always listen to his theories, pay them close attention, and either immediately accept them as really smart, or put them in limbo to see how they pan out. Many crash-and-burn, and do so quickly, almost immediately, in fact. But some flourish and show brilliance. This is one of those latter.
What he said those 10 months ago was, "You know who Trump reminds me of? I had this boss, and he was a maniac. He would intentionally cause these horrible problems in the office. Things would be a disaster. And then he'd come in and fix them and say, 'See, look at how I fixed the problem.' The problem that he created. He loved intentionally creating chaos, and then telling everyone how brilliant and invaluable he was fixing it all."
The theory was interesting as to how it related to Trump , but I wasn't 100% sure if I agreed with the "it's all intentional" part. Maybe one or two things, but I thought Trump was so maniacal that the chaos he created was mostly a result of his disordered, sick mind. And I still tend to think that. But -- I now don't think it's just "some of the time." But a lot of the time. Much of the time. Maybe I'm even nearing the point of saying, "Most of the time." (Maybe.) However, it's become clear to me that Myles was right, long ago -- that Trump is indeed someone who at least likes to intentionally create problems, chaos and disasters so that he can come in and say, "I alone can fix it." That may be some obvious today to some, but Myles was insistent over a year ago.
What we have is a man who brought the world close to nuclear war by prodding Kim Jong-un, calling him crazy and "Rocket Man," threatening him with "fire and fury." And then as the world starts pushing towards red alert, he says, "Hey, let's have a summit" and what an honor it is to meet you and how that terrific Kim Jong-un has got a great sense of humor, that he really loves his people -- and we no longer have anything to worry about nuclear war and can now sleep at night. Well, of course, the reality is we have a massive amount to worry about, since the murderous repressive dictator who killed his half-brother and uncle still has nukes and got a deal from Trump without giving anything up -- and rather than sleeping at night, we have to stay wide awake and vigilant. But to the Trump sycophant cultists, they see the world was on the verge of nuclear was and he "fixed it" (sic). Never mind that he was the one who brought the world to the edge of nuclear war. And that that hasn't even remotely gone away.
Even some professional analysts have come around the the Myles Theory from long ago. I heard one on MSNBC after the summit who said, "When an arsonist starts a fire, he doesn't deserve praise for putting it out."
I told this to Myles. He didn't laugh, though, but immediately said, "YES!! That's what I've been saying!"
Who knows what he'll say next time? It may be...oh, a wee bit questionable, or really smart, but it will absolutely be worth listening to. But I think that what he said more than a full-year ago about intentional, he was most definitely onto something early. I still think a good part of Trump's chaos is merely the natural by-product of a chaotic mind, that can't help but be the case with a mind so diseased. But it seems clear to me now that there's actually often a method in his madness, and intentionally creating problems -- whether to fix or blame on others -- is indeed a deep part of the sickness that is Trump.
Happily, I have a Myles Berkowitz to help get me through it all. Not necessarily because he says things that are so wise and comforting -- he does, some of the time, though not remotely most -- but more because talking with Myles is such a thoughtful, insightful, and wondrously-observant distraction. Not that it's necessarily way off-topic, indeed it can be utterly laser-focused on-topic...but that it comes from an angle that is off in its own Myles direction.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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