There’s a reason most Republicans and a vast majority of voters loathe Donald Trump: his vulgarity, his blistering ignorance, his constant dishonesty, his venality, and his utter lack of the knowledge, judgment, or temperament to be president of the United States. But of all his ugly characteristics, his endless stream of self-pity has become the most irritating feature of the most irritating candidate in modern political history.
For the last couple of weeks, Trump has tried to play the grown-up in the run-up to his big hometown victory Tuesday in New York. Still, he can’t get rid of the Trump Tower-sized chip on his shoulder. “Nobody can take an election away with the way they’re doing it in the Republican Party,” he cried in his victory speech, along with complaining about how the press chooses to misunderstand his campaign.
Trump has always been thin-skinned, but before he ran for president he lived in two carefully controlled environments. As a creation of the tabloid media in New York City and then of reality television, Trump has until now always been in on the joke. He knows the rituals of those worlds are as explicable as professional wrestling, and he’s always used them to his advantage. An insult or a slight then was a part of the show. There’s always a good guy and a bad guy, and a battle royale with a predetermined outcome. Even when he was occasionally cast as the bad guy (to wit, tabloid coverage of his divorces and bankruptcies), Trump always assumed his entertainment value would see him through.
Politics has surprised this man-baby in a lot of ways, but most fundamentally in that people not only take shots, but land them. He always seems stunned that people are calling his bullshit and shocked that the GOP isn’t tossing rose petals in his path. He expresses endless outrage that the RNC hasn’t cut to the chase and named him the nominee—even saying darkly about the party’s convention, “I hope it doesn’t involve violence”—and it’s pretty clear that the 67 percent of Republicans who have cast a vote against him are on his enemies list.
Actual pressure has made Trump brittle, bitter, and reflexively nasty. When you look at Trump’s public dialogue this election cycle, it consists of two streams; the “build duh wall take duh oil” boob-bait his mouth-breathing rally audiences love, and whining. Mostly whining.
His Twitter timeline (when he’s not busy re-tweeting alt-white supremacists or announcing his next Trumpenproletariat rally) is littered with complaints about the media, the RNC, conservative critics, and the political process. Trump expected he would be treated as the entitled, rules-are-for-the-little-people billionaire brat he plays on television.
At first I thought it was Trump capitalizing on the value of the strategic tantrum, but it’s more pathological than that. Beginning in June of 2015, he was working the RNC’s terrified leadership with threats to stomp off and run as a third-party candidate if he wasn’t “treated properly.” From Megyn Kelly to Reince Preibus to every other candidate in the field and to any person in the political process who failed to genuflect, no one is ever obsequious enough for Mr. Trump, and their failure to bow deeply enough enrages him.
In fairness, two groups of media enablers fueled Trump’s belief he could act this way. Some of this is the mainstream media’s fault; they continually let him get away with otherwise disqualifying shenanigans for the first eight months of this campaign. They focused, as they are wont to do, on the process stories: “X said this, Trump exploded. Trump said something else crazy, X replied” instead of asking, over and over again, “Is Donald Trump sane? Is he qualified to be in control of nuclear weapons, given his crazy narcissism and poor impulse control?”
His cheerleaders in the fever-swamp side of the conservative media ecosystem, (including his nightly tongue-bath by certain Fox hosts) fed his sense of entitlement and lack of accountability. As the field of candidates has winnowed down to one-and-a-half opponents and Trump seems to have a harder path to 1,237 delegates at the RNC convention than he imagined, his whining has grown ever louder.
After his richly deserved losses in delegate fights in Colorado, the man who promises his fans that he’ll be “a much different person” once they make him president went on a shrill, four-day media meltdown. He didn’t lose Colorado for any reason other than his team’s inability to understand the clearly defined rules of the delegate selection process, but that doesn’t stop the billionaire whiner from adding it to his endless recitation of real and imagined slights and grievances.
Sure, some of it is an act in which Trump tosses more red meat about the evil establishment to his conspiracy-minded base. While Colorado is a good example of how reality is a triggering event for Trump, the horror of this behavior on the campaign trail is nothing compared to what would happen with him as president.
Imagine this complainer in chief in the Oval Office. The constant petulance and vindictive whining about Supreme Court justices. His attorney general pursuing critics in the press and elsewhere. Imagine when this petty, vindictive, and shallow man directs his minions to use the power of his office to destroy his political opponents.
Consider what happens when the famous deal-maker gets pantsed by the wily mandarins of Congress. More importantly, imagine world leaders who understand how easily controlled Trump is by slights to his delicate ego.
“And that, kids, is how we nuked Pyongyang.”
Richard Nixon is typically considered the modern exemplar of a dark and vindictive president. President Trump would be Nixon minus the keen intellect and work ethic.
As a petty, vengeful man surrounded by even more petty, vindictive bootlickers, Trump’s thugocracy would make his own enemies list a central feature of his administration, powered by a social media army perfectly comfortable doxxing and attacking the families of his opponents.
It’s always about Trump, and nothing else. It’s always about Trump’s ego, his narcissism, a black hole of endless need for adulation and praise. For Trump, there’s always a dark conspiracy arrayed against him. Someone is always doing him an injustice by not treating him with the required deference.
Instead of showing even a scintilla of self-awareness as to why his grotesque language and behavior toward women, minorities, veterans, and the disabled have left him with eye-poppingly terrible polling numbers, he instead complains that Megyn Kelly is mean to him.
It’s horrible enough to look ahead to President Trump ushering in an era of misery, scandal, racial strife, economic collapse, and war—let alone having our national collapse set to a soundtrack of his poor-pitiful-me whining.