I have one or two thoughts on the phrase, “extremely stable genius,” that you may find helpful. If, when Donald Trump recently used that phrase to describe himself, you found the expression odd or awkward but could not put your finger on precisely why, I may be able to help you out here. You see, the whole problem is that the adjective “stable” does not lend itself easily to modifying superlative adverbs. It is, in effect, a digital, not an analog, word. You’re either stable or you aren’t. There is no “extremely” about it. One is no more “extremely stable” than one is, say, “extremely mediocre.” It just doesn’t work.
“Instability,” on the other hand, is definitely a quality that can be measured on a sliding scale. That is why it would be perfectly acceptable to say, “Donald Trump is an extremely unstable man.” Now that works in logic, in usage and in actual fact. Saying, “Donald Trump is somewhat unstable” or “Donald Trump is fairly unstable” doesn’t work, you see. He is, in fact, extremely unstable. Instability is a sliding scale, and for Donald Trump, “extremely” is the appropriate modifier.
Trump’s need to employ the modifier “extremely” with his self-pronounced stability, or the word “very” as he previously formulated it, is a figment of his massive insecurity. Trump can’t abide being ordinary at anything, even when he’s trying to convince people he is, in fact, ordinary.
When, in a farce with all the ingenuousness of a Stalin-era show trial, Trump went around the room and called on his various yes-men and yes-women to publicly vouchsafe his extreme stability, can any sane person doubt that they would have behaved any differently than they did? Of course they swore he had been calm, that he had been stable. They’re not about to tell the truth.
Trump, who has told ten thousand lies (that we know about) since taking office, was confirmed in his stability by the likes of Kellyanne Conway and Sarah Huckabee Sanders, two notorious liars. Before selling out to Donald Trump, Kellyanne Conway used to go on CNN and MSNBC and denounce him as a conman, a fraudster and a liar.
As Press Secretary Sarah Sanders habitually and shamelessly lies on Trump’s behalf, she shows absolutely no shame whatsoever when she’s caught in a lie. For example, when Sarah was recently interviewed by CNN’s Alisyn Camerota, she said, “I think it’s a complete lie that Democrats in Congress can do two things at once, so far we haven’t seen them do anything. Nancy Pelosi has had the majority in the House for months and has yet to accomplish a single thing.” To which Ms. Camerota replied, “From January third to present, which is not that long, the house has passed 248 bills … that’s not nothing.” Without missing a beat, Sarah retorted, “Tell me what significant pieces of legislation that they have passed. They were going to change the course of the country …”
But that wasn’t the point. Sarah Sanders said they hadn’t “accomplish[ed] a single thing.” Not a single thing. That is a deliberate lie and Alisyn Camerota caught her in that lie. These are the people defending Donald Trump’s “extreme stability.” As for Trump’s claim to being a genius? No genius would ever say such a thing. No genius would ever employ such obvious liars to back him up. Donald Trump is an idiot. So are the people who work for him. So are the people who support him.
Robert Harrington is an American expat living in Britain. He is a portrait painter.