Perhaps because of my background as a therapist, I think it is important to sometimes look beyond the political games and understand what is going on inside a politician’s head. Never has that been more true of a president than Donald Trump. If we simply analyze his posturing from a political perspective, we’ll miss the story.
Something Martin just wrote triggered my thoughts in that direction: “the Washington Establishment didn’t accept him irrespective of which party they represented.” I was reminded of a fascinating piece Garrison Keillor wrote about Trump during the election, which basically explored what goes on inside Trump’s head.
The fans in the arenas are wild about you, and Sean Hannity is as loyal as they come, but Rudy and Christie and Newt are reassuring in that stilted way of hospital visitors. And The New York Times treats you like the village idiot. This is painful for a Queens boy trying to win respect in Manhattan where the Times is the Supreme Liberal Jewish Anglican Arbiter of Who Has The Smarts and What Goes Where…In Queens, blacks were a threat to property values — they belonged in the Bronx, not down the street. To the Times, Queens is Cleveland. Bush league. You are Queens. The casinos were totally Queens, the gold faucets in your triplex, the bragging, the insults, but you wanted to be liked by Those People…
Running for president is your last bid for the respect of Manhattan…
What the fans don’t know is that it’s not much fun being a billionaire. You own a lot of big houses and you wander around in them, followed by a waiter, a bartender, a masseuse, three housekeepers, and a concierge, and they probably gossip about you behind your back. Just like nine-tenths of your campaign staff. You’re losing and they know it and they’re telling mean stories about you to everybody and his brother.
Meanwhile, you keep plugging away. It’s the hardest work you’ve ever done. You walk out in the white cap and you rant for an hour about stuff that means nothing and the fans scream and wave their signs and you wish you could level with them for once and say one true thing: I love you to death and when this is over I will have nothing that I want.
Trump has always felt like he is “bush league” in a world of Manhattanites. Even the Washington Establishment rejected him – no matter how much money he donated to their causes/campaigns. The voices inside his head (predominantly his father Fred Trump and Roy Cohn) are constantly questioning his legitimacy and telling him to view every situation as a battle to the death. No amount of money he could make or attention he could garner ever silenced those voices.
In the end, the calculation that Trump made was that winning the presidency was the one thing that would finally validate him. After all, you can’t get any bigger than POTUS.
But it didn’t work.
That’s why yesterday, three months after the election and in the midst of failure on health care, initial work on tax reform, another missile test in North Korea, the use of chemical weapons by Assad in Syria and an ongoing counter-intelligence investigation by the FBI into his campaign, Donald Trump wanted to talk about how bigly he won.
If his lies, incompetence and distorted world view weren’t so dangerous, that would be a truly sad portrait of an elderly man still clinging to the hope of finally proving something to himself. But we don’t have the luxury of pity.
Trump will never silence the voices in his head that question his legitimacy. So he’ll never get what he wants. Over time, that will simply make him even more dangerous.