Donald Trump is pitiful. Given the hatred he generates both for himself and his opponents, it’s easy to overlook how small and pathetic the man is.
A video on July 4th saw him step off Air Force One and wander off in an apparently random direction, before being directed to the car right in front of the plane (emblazoned with the presidential seal and with American flags on the front). Did he not understand that the car was there for him? If not, how little comprehension does he have of the world around him?
Two days previously he shared a video of himself beating up a representation of the CNN news channel. There has been much discussion about the implications of this – was he advocating violence, does it encourage those who might commit violent acts against the media to believe that the president has their back, and so on. There didn’t seem to be as much discussion about how pathetically sad it was. Trump has the luxury and opportunity of being both a multi-millionaire and one of the most politically powerful people in the world. Yet this was how he chose to entertain himself – by tweeting childlike nicknames “Crazy Joe Scarborough” and “FNN”.
A response from the Australian comedian Mark Humphries was objectively funnier than the video Trump shared, taking the conceit (CNN as a person who Trump physically beats up) and going further with it.
The humour of Donald Trump is a faint, constant low-level, low-wit whine, praised only by those who would admire literally anything he says, does or shares. Between July 1st and 3rd Trump tweeted complaints about media coverage nine times – this was in the run-up to both an international political conference and his country’s national holiday.*4 Forget about whether he was tasteful, and just think about how small that makes him and his office look.
Studies by the Pew Research Centre show that the number of Germans who view USA favourably have dropped from 57% to 35% under Trump. Justin Trudeau has positioned Canada as a potential world leader in America’s place. Several states have reacted to America pulling out of the Paris Agreement by going around the White House, and committing to upholding their part of the agreement. Trump was apparently the last adult in America to realise that “health care could be so complicated”. For a large number of top positions (384 of 564 vacancies) Trump has yet to nominate a candidate. Yet somehow he accuses Democrats of obstructing the appointments he hasn’t nominated.
George W Bush was a man of warmth and personal decency – an everyman charm, albeit a charm that was misused by his necon advisors. Like Trump, Bush was a man born into privilege, a man who never should have became president but whose family advantages propelled him into the White House. But to hear Bush talk in his post-presidential years is to see that he is a man capable of feeling and giving love, who through his painting is able to appreciate the small things in life, and who has the self-assurance to cope with the knowledge that a great number of people dislike him, without it crushing his psyche.
Instead, Trump has had a lifetime surrounded by sycophants. His personal doctor Harold Bornstein made the ludicrous claim that this elderly and overweight man would be the fittest president ever. He regularly tweets praise for TV presenters who praise him, rather than treating the medium as being mostly irrelevant. Why waste so much time on this stuff, unless it’s important to him?
According to his wife Donald Trump is a man who hits his opponents ten times harder than they hit him. Yet Trump still sees himself as the victim – he seems to feel a genuine pain that there are parts of the world that refuse to praise him. For all the pain he has caused and is likely to continue causing before his presidency is over, Trump is a man crippled by the need of approval from others. When he lashes out it’s unlikely to be a strategic choice, it’s more likely to be motivated by a deep and unfixable chasm within his own psyche.