This morning’s twitter droppings from the president of the United States include this apercu:
Nothing funny about tired Saturday Night Live on Fake News NBC! Question is, how do the Networks get away with these total Republican hit jobs without retribution? Likewise for many other shows? Very unfair and should be looked into. This is the real Collusion!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 17, 2019
Now it’s screamingly obvious that Trump is mentally dysfunctional in a variety of ways, and people can and do argue about which of those dysfunctions fit into the recognized categories of mental illness. But what interests me about this tweet is that it reflects one of those dysfunctions in a striking way: I don’t think Donald Trump understands humor. As in, at all.
Play this mental game: Try to imagine Trump making a witty remark. I’m not talking Oscar Wilde here — a snarky comment on an LGM post that makes you internally smile for a second is a plenty high standard for this purpose. Can’t be done, right? It’s impossible to imagine Trump saying something genuinely funny, because genuine wit requires a modicum of various qualities — self-awareness, a sense of the absurd, a sense that other people actually exist, an ability to imagine that there are interesting things in the world other than oneself etc. — that Trump lacks in profound ways.
I’m not saying this is his most important dysfunction or anything, but I do think it’s an especially revelatory one in some way. It goes to his fundamental lack of humanity. He lacks various qualities that a minimally well-functioning person should have, and this is perhaps the most glaring.