After the incredible report from Axios’ Jonathan Swan that highlighted Donald Trump’s proclivity for purposely undermining those to whom he — or the Constitution — has previously delegated authority over certain things, it’s hard not to imagine the President as a boy sitting on his front step on a summer day with a magnifying glass, looking for ants.
If that seems like hyperbole, consider some examples of the way that Trump wields his authority, and how he exhibits all of the signs of a terrible boss and a classic abuser:
Because firing people in real life — as opposed to the television show where he made the phrase “You’re Fired!” famous — makes Trump deeply uncomfortable, he chooses instead to bully people until they quit. He did it with Rex Tillerson and tried to do it with Jeff Sessions, and even had an employee named Louise Sunshine in his real estate business from 1973 to 1985 of whom he would keep a picture in his desk drawer from when she was overweight. He would pull it out when he was displeased with her, she once told the Washington Post.
But all of that behavior stems from a much deeper narcissism than just being a bully. Trump didn’t slap the moniker “Sloppy Steve” on his former advisor Steve Bannon just to be a jerk — he did it because he truly believes his appearance is what other men should aspire to. He didn’t tell Betsy DeVos to cut Special Olympics funding, then tell the world he had “overridden his people” because he changed his mind — he did it because he thinks it makes him look like a hero.
And to a certain degree, he’s correct: Trump’s base eats that narcissism up with a spoon. In their small worlds, they are simply temporarily embarrassed millionaires themselves, and can definitely see themselves at the pinnacle of success they see him as having achieved. An egomaniac leading egomaniacs, with all of the evidence of their pathos wrapped up in a vote that says with a loud, clear voice “Only my opinion matters about anything.”
And there is nothing that his base loves more than watching him “own the libs,” the term that trolls and MAGA-wearing rally-goers have developed for anything that causes outrage on the left. Ban transgender soldiers? That’s owning the libs. Take money from disaster relief in Puerto Rico and use it to build a wall that would keep out folks that speak the same language as the Puerto Ricans? Owning the libs.
That’s why Trump needs cameras. His ego could never be satisfied with a single chief of staff to humiliate, or just one body-conscious woman to torment, or only one child whose birthday to completely publicly ignore. He needs his whole base to see him at all times, owning the libs.
Earlier this month, in fact, he displayed the ultimate presidential version of this. After Congress voted down his “national emergency” declaration — rightfully fearing how easily such a tactic might be abused in the future by either or both political parties — he made quite a show of publicly signing the veto of that resolution, demanding cameras, demanding that his aides coordinate an entire event around his utter and complete humiliation of any who dared to oppose his wishes.
When CNN’s Jim Acosta reported that White House staffers were scrambling to put something together as a stage for Trump’s veto show, he used a phrase that said it all:
Aides are hashing out plans for Trump to veto the resolution blocking his national emergency declaration in front of the cameras as soon as tomorrow, I’m told. Official said it would be unusual for Trump not to do so.
— Jim Acosta (@Acosta) March 14, 2019
“It would be unusual for Trump not to do so.” Yes, I believe it would.
Featured image is a screen capture.