Damning with faint praise is one thing. Damning a sitting president with words spoken by Plato, Sandra Day O’Connor, Abraham Lincoln, Gandhi, W.C. Fields, Winston Churchill, Proverbs, Carl Sandburg and a hundred more is quite another.
In his eighth book quotemeister Dr. Mardy Grothe’s pen becomes a mighty sword slicing into the character and behaviors of Donald Trump.
In “Deconstructing Trump,” Grothe has collected 1,000 quotes from formidable minds which — although spoken in past centuries about other people — paint an insightful if ugly portrait.
Not that the quoted notables knew they were describing this controversial president. Applying their words was Grothe’s task. The result: staggering, stunning, suggesting that no aberrations are new under the sun.
Grothe will be at The Country Bookshop Wednesday, Sept. 25, at 5 p.m. to discuss his new book.
“Dr. Mardy” (Ph.D. in psychology, Columbia University) as he is known to followers, lives in Southern Pines but writes in a la-la land where intellect, not technology reigns and people laugh at wit, not potty jokes. His blog, “Dr. Mardy’s Quotes of the Week” is devoured by 10,000 followers worldwide. Other books explore “neverisms,” “ifferisms,” oxymorons and metaphors.
Politics wasn’t Grothe’s game until now, although he admits being inspired by JFK and Barack Obama. At the outset he considered the Trump candidacy a “fun exercise” carried out by a “clown.” Grothe, an independent who has voted both parties, had followed Trump’s debacles since the 1970s. However the book wasn’t born until 2015 when candidate Trump proclaimed, flippantly, that Sen. John McCain was not a war hero because he had been captured.
Grothe went into a rage.
“Once he won the election things went downhill for me,” he recalls. “I sank into a depression, had trouble sleeping, drank a bit too much.”
This only worsened as the new POTUS’s term progressed, storm after upheaval after scandal.
Then, by coincidence or serendipity, in his ongoing search through quotations Grothe began noticing some that fit Trump to a T. “Holy cow, this sounds like Donald Trump. This validated my impressions.”
The two-year sleuth became a therapy that lifted his depression while creating a passion to strip the pompous emperor of his new clothes, starting with the MAGA cap/crown.
Grothe was ready for a new book. Why not this?
The resulting quote file arranged alphabetically by person quoted provokes gasps: Margaret Mitchell: “…a liar was the hottest to defend his veracity, the coward his courage, the ill-bred his gentlemanliness and the cad his honor.”
This gem from Alexander Hamilton: “How often the great interests of society are sacrificed to the vanity, to the conceit and to the obstinacy of individuals.” Or, from Robert Ingersoll, “Nothing discloses real character like the use of power.” Ben Franklin weighs in with “Pardoning the bad is injuring the good.” Dwight Eisenhower contributes “You do not lead by hitting people over the head – that’s assault, not leadership.”
Clarence Darrow: “When I was a boy I was told that anybody could become president. I’m beginning to believe it.” Harken Shakespeare, that quintessential political commentator: “I did never know so full a voice issue from so empty a heart.”
Mark Twain hit the nail on the head with “My kind of loyalty was loyalty to one’s country, not to its institutions or its office-holders.”
Samuel Adams makes the book cover with “If ever the time should come when vain and aspiring men shall possess the highest seats in government our society will stand in need of its experienced patriots to prevent its ruin.”
Grothe expresses doubt that Trump knows who Hamilton, Adams, Darrow or Franklin were.
Still, the jaw-dropper has to be a Dr. Seuss cartoon from 1941 of a granny wearing an America First T-shirt reading to children from a book titled “Adolph the Wolf:”
“And the wolf chewed up the children and spit out their bones but they were foreign children so it really didn’t matter.”
America First, a slogan adopted early on by Trump, channels the movement associated with Nazi sympathizers as championed by Charles Lindbergh.
“Dr. Mardy,” previously published by Harper-Collins, was turned down by mainstream publishers citing a glut of Trump books. A literary angel impressed by his research and premise offered to cover publishing costs. The 288-page trade paperback was printed in the U.S.
Grothe and his wife Katherine Robinson have mobilized publicity and distribution. Pre-publication reaction from fellow wordsmiths include “A brilliant idea consummately executed” and “These ….historical quotations shine brightly on the hollowness of the man they so clearly bring to mind.”
Reading “Deconstructing Trump” is a bit like eating fudge — fabulous in small bites. Grothe himself recommends 15-minute increments. “But please read the introduction,” he says, to understand his mindset.
“I’m not writing to be famous or rich,” the psychologist muses. “I’m just happy that I wrote this book. At 77, I want to say to myself that I did something to speak up against Donald Trump.”
Christmas is coming. Note to Democrats, undecideds and disillusioned Republicans: What a stocking stuffer!
The Country Bookshop is located at 140 NW Broad St., Southern Pines. For information, call (910) 692-3211.
Contact Deborah Salomon at firstname.lastname@example.org