The biggest myth about Donald Trump is that he’s a tough guy (news.com.au link): WHAT a small, pitiful man Donald Trump is. The US President thinks he’s a real tough guy, presumably because he spent so many years pretending to fire people on reality TV.
But that is, and always has been, a lie. Trump’s supporters mistake his petty, spiteful aggression for strength, when it is in fact the exact opposite. His endless spats and Twitter tantrums reveal a man who is thin-skinned, self-obsessed and pathetically insecure. Trump, who has more power and responsibility than anyone else on the planet, wastes his days in the White House obsessing over pointless feuds and satisfying his compulsive need to whine about every perceived grievance.
Why? Because the only thing Trump truly cares about is making himself look good. No policy is more important than boosting his ego. No lie is too outrageous if it’s in service to his self-esteem.
Consider the depressingly stupid week-long spat over Trump’s condolence call to a fallen soldier’s widow.
A Democratic Congresswoman, who was present for the call, said Trump seemed to forget Sergeant La David Johnson’s name and told Sgt Johnson’s wife Myeshia he “knew what he was getting into when he signed up”.
Trump accused her of “totally fabricating” his words. “I did not say what she said,” he insisted, over and over again. Well, Ms Johnson herself later confirmed the Congresswoman’s account. So unless you’re prepared to impugn the motives of a grieving widow, it is clear that Trump was lying.
The phone call itself is not the problem here. We all occasionally stumble over our words or blurt out the wrong thing, and that’s without the immense pressure of speaking to a tearful spouse. Trump’s clumsiness during the call is entirely forgivable.
That would have ended the controversy, but of course, Trump was never going to say it. Even now he continues to imply that Ms Johnson is the one lying, despite a car full of witnesses contradicting him, because he is pathologically incapable of admitting to a mistake.
This isn’t the kind of arrogance you usually see in politics. If you want an example of an arrogant president, look at Barack Obama, who genuinely believed he could change the world by making a few pretty speeches.
Trump is different. His ego is gigantic, yes, but it’s also pathetically fragile. That is why he has such an overwhelming impulse to get back at anyone who criticises him.
At the start of October, you may recall, he came under fire for jetting off on a golf trip while the mayor of Puerto Rico’s biggest city, San Juan, pleaded for more help dealing with the devastating aftermath of two hurricanes.
“I will do what I never thought I was going to do — begging. Begging anyone that can hear us to save us from dying. If anybody out there is listening to us, we are dying, and you are killing us with the inefficiency and the bureaucracy,” Mayor Carmen Cruz said.
A normal person would have asked whether he really could do more, or at the very least, empathised with Ms Cruz over her desperate situation. But while she slept in a shelter because her house had been wrecked, and waded through floodwaters trying to help survivors, Trump mocked her from the comfort of his golf club in New Jersey.
“The mayor of San Juan, who was very complimentary only a few days ago, has now been told by Democrats that you must be nasty to Trump,” he said.
“Such poor leadership ability by the mayor of San Juan, and others in Puerto Rico, who are not able to get their workers to help. They want everything to be done for them when it should be a community effort.”
Puerto Rico is a US territory. So just to be clear, that was the President of the United States attacking American disaster victims for wanting his help.
In Trump’s mind, he was the victim. He always is. When his words offend a grieving widow, he’s the victim. When the media quotes him word-for-word and he doesn’t like how it sounds, he’s the victim.
Maddening hypocrisy has always been at the core of Trump’s political brand. The guy who scammed poor Americans so he could live in a penthouse made of gold and marble somehow anointed himself the champion of the white working class.
Trump repeatedly whaled on Obama for taking too many golf trips when he should have been working, and has spent a quarter of his own days in office playing golf.
He accused the Clintons of being corrupt, and has used his presidency to funnel millions of dollars into his own businesses.
He constantly, shamelessly lies, and spent years spreading the ridiculous conspiracy theory that Obama was not an American citizen, but has the gall to label any facts that make him look bad “fake news”.
But no Trumpian hypocrisy is more infuriating than the people who called Obama a narcissist because he used the word “I” too much — yes, really, that was a thing — now fawning over a man whose defining character trait is a compulsive need to make everything about himself.
Trump’s fragile narcissism has corrupted his movement. There is only one condition for membership of the Trump personality cult — absolute loyalty. You must praise everything he says and does. If you criticise him, no matter how impeccably conservative your credentials, you’re labelled a leftist; a Republican in name only; a traitor.
Political and moral principles are sacrificed in service to the only thing that matters — Trump’s ego. It would be deliciously ironic if it weren’t so sad. Trump’s fans love to mock the “snowflakes” who are “triggered” by his juvenile insults and political incorrectness, yet somehow they remain blind to the thin-skinned snowflake in their midst.
Trump’s constant, unquenchable thirst for adulation isn’t tough, it is pathetic. A bigger man, and a better president, would have enough self-confidence and respect to ignore the petty fights and get on with his job.
And if, after ten months of Trump’s compulsive whining, you still believe he is as tough as he claims, you have not been paying attention.