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Latest Report on the "Caligula Presidency": Is Impeachment on its Way?
by Dr. Emanuel Paparella
2017-02-02 11:39:50
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One can just imagine a conversation between two interlocutors as they walk in the streets of Rome some 2000 years ago: emperor Caligula did what? He made his horse senator of Rome.

Today the quip in American cities and around the world seems to be: President Trump did what?

It has been approximately ten days since what I dub “Caligula redivivus” (Caligula reincarnated) has assumed the Presidency as arguably the most powerful man on earth. That in itself is scary enough.

True to form, and quite predictably he has been performing one enormity after the other on a daily, even hourly basis, governing by childish whim and impulse, by executive fiats and decrees, with an eyes to corporate profits, to personal vendettas and slanderous vituperations, often hurled via twits. Clearly, this deranged form of governing is not working very well. The wheels seem to be wobbling and ready to come off, for the man seems to be constitutionally and psychiatrically incapable of distinguishing what is legal and what is illegal, what is normative and what is abnormal. The issue of torture, which he continues to support publicly even when he hypocritically deferring to his aide General Maddox’s views, is a glaring example.

It’s as if the Electoral College had elected him dictator of the US. Certainly, the majority of the people, by some three million votes, did not, albeit many misguided people did thus putting in peril democracy itself. But of course they don’t know it yet and continue to praise the sartorial splendor of emperor Caligula strutting through the streets of Rome or Washington, as the case may be.

Indeed, the first president of the US must be turning in his grave at the sight of how low the Office of the US Presidency has sunk. One courageous prominent citizen has publicly shouted “The Emperor is illegitimate,” which is equivalent to the little boy shouting “the President is naked” in the famous tale. He has been soundly rebuked by the emperor for the impertinence of that kind of suggestion.


He continues to court Putin considering him a trustworthy ally and claims massive voter fraud despite the ridicule of his own party on those claims. The panic in the party seems to be setting in. It is now frantically trying to figure out how to kill Obamacare without killing patients or Republican re-election hopes. They also see themselves mired in a trade war with Mexico which is not a good omen on their re-election prospects either.

All this after ten days, mind you. What will be left of the American Republic after four years, or, perhaps eight years? The question gaining ground now seems to be: how do we get the man out and avoid a potential unmitigated political disaster? We know how the Praetorean guards in Rome, after five years of sheer abuses, ultimately solved the problem with their mad emperor. In modern CIA parlance, “with extreme prejudice.” That is not something feasible or even desirable in a  democracy governed by the rule of law where assassinations are illegal.

What seems to be left is impeachment. Even Republicans seem to be deserting in droves. It has become quite clear to many of them that the man is unfit for office and trying to rein him in is an exercise in futility.  Reality is now pushing back. They could have imagined that before they nominated him and elected him, but better late than never.

At this point one can hope that the constitutional legal checks on tyranny hold. So far they are. After the deranged effort of Caligula redivivus to selectively ban refugees as potential terrorists (except those terrorist countries like Saudi Arabia and Egypt which have Trump business interests), he has discovered, eureka, that American has courts. Get a hold of that.

The reality is that the courts are now the only barrier to Trump’s dictatorial style of governing. Hopefully, the people will also intervene by starting popular impeachment procedures. Free Speech for People has launched a citizens’ campaign to impeach Trump. About 400,000 people have already signed the petition.

Senior legal scholars associated with CREW (Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington) have filed a legal brief  documenting the several ways Trump is in violation of the Emoluments Clause, which prohibits a president from profiting from the actions of foreign governments.


One can retort to the above with the reminder that impeachment is a political as well as a legal process and it was designed that way deliberately by the country’s founding fathers. That is true. We can only hope now that as the deranged emperor in town deserts the Constitutions, pari passu, his loyal sycophants will begin deserting him, as they realize that they cannot use Trump for their own ends; that, to the contrary, he has and will continue to use them for his own agenda.

If the Caligula episode in Roman history teaches anything is that malignant narcissism (as described by psychiatrist Otto Kernberg) is more severe than ordinary narcissism. It is a pathology characterize by an absence of conscience, grandiosity and a desperate quest for power and validation, not to speak of a sadistic enjoyment of cruelty and the suffering of others.

So, Trump’s impeachment seems almost inevitable. The only question remaining then will be: how much damage will the US have to withstand before it happens. 



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