Tuesday, October 24, 2017
Our Narcissist in Chief
I stumbled across an article this morning which tries to explain why Trump is still fighting with Frederica Wilson and Myeshia Johnson. Simple enough explanation -- "he's a cruel bigot." The article references a piece Nate Silver wrote at the end of last month when Trump was similarly engaged in a twitter war with Carmen Cruz, the mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico. Silver added irrational and incompetent.
Nate said there is no point looking for some broader story, as Rachel Maddow and other liberal conspiracy theorists do. The truth of the matter is that we are dealing with a man-toddler prone to impulsive outbursts, especially when criticized for his rude behavior. Silver noted an ominous trend in the targets: women and minorities.
However, Trump hasn't been very kind to white males either. He continues his feud with John McCain, has been particularly harsh on Bob Corker, and has hurled all kinds of abuse at Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan. Maybe money is a factor as well? Being a Fortune 500 billionaire, he feels he is above everyone, even those above him on the list like Jeff Bezos, who he has teed off on in the past. Fortune offers this explanation for Trump's surly tweets, although Alana Abramson is forced to admit there isn't much logic to his arguments.
Psychologists have provided a clinical explanation for his erratic behavior, labeling him a malignant narcissist, evidenced by his "grandiose sense of self-importance," no doubt fostered at a very young age. His father tried to instill some military discipline in teenage Donald, but it is hard to believe his record is real. How could Donald be good at all those sports given his bone spurs, which he used as deferments from the draft? The Washington Post tried to get to the bottom of this military prep record, forever earning his enmity.
It doesn't do much good to get in a twitter war, as he simply refuses to acknowledge any shortcomings, even when so obviously in the wrong. Instead, his staff feeds stories to the press of war widows who have been content with his phone calls and letters, making Myeshia Johnson appear like an embittered war widow with a grudge to bear. This will only lead to more anguish on her part.
This kind of bullying fits with his psychological profile, which includes narcissism, paranoia, antisocial personality and sadism, according to psychoanalyst Otto Kernberg. Making matters worse, it is not just Trump you are going up against but a veritable "clown posse," which goes out of its way to reinforce his behavior, much like one can imagine his mother did all those years ago.
What seems to be missing in all these assessments is the high degree of resentment Trump exhibits, probably aimed at his father who so often bailed him out of financial crises and no doubt thought less of his son in the process. It has also been directed at specific individuals who slighted him in the past, notably Barack Obama who turned the 2011 Correspondents Dinner into one of the most humiliating experiences in Donald Trump's life. A grudge he has harbored for 6 long years and is carrying out his revenge with all the gusto of a sociopath. It has been said that he even wanted to change the name of Mt. Denali back to McKinley just to spite Obama, but Alaskan senators said no way.
This pettiness combined with his position of power makes Trump a very dangerous man, which is why so many psychoanalysts are doing what they have said they would never do -- diagnose a patient based on what they see on television. After all, we can't be 100% certain it is not an act.
Rachel Maddow continues to insist Donald is playing some dark Machiavellian game and that we shouldn't take our eye off the ball. Each week, she tries to dissect his seemingly erratic behavior as part of a much larger conspiracy with Trump fully aware of the role he is playing. After all, he has managed to stay out of jail all these years despite the many shady deals he has been part of.
However, I would posit that it isn't so much Trump is aware of what he is doing as it is other persons are able to use him for their own deceitful purposes. Steve Bannon saw a golden race horse in Trump and rode him to the White House. Granted, it was a bumpy ride but Bannon is still using "Trumpism" to get rogue conservatives elected in Republican primaries, and if he is true to his word will challenge each and everyone of the incumbent Republican senators up for re-election in 2018, save Ted Cruz. All Trump has to do is be his own troubled self, as he was at an Alabama rally back in September, even if he was endorsing the wrong candidate.
Trump relishes these twitter moments. He will face off against any person who impugns his imagined integrity. Myeshia Johnson is just the latest victim, and if she persists, he will persist, just like he did with the Khan family last year. She will never get any soothing words from this president, only more anguish.
However, it isn't so much that Trump is a bigot. He's just not responsible for his actions. He truly believes he is above everyone on this planet. He has taken his malignant narcissism to a level normally associated with sociopath killers.