Thursday, October 15, 2020


Politico's John Harris is worried about President Trump's emotional well-being.
Just consider what Trump is facing in his life right now:

— He was just hospitalized with trouble breathing from a disease that has killed many people his age. How could he not have experienced some intimation of mortality?

— A person who has made an obsession of “winning” is facing the possibility, and even the probability, of an electoral repudiation.

— In either scenario, but especially if he loses, he is facing fearsome legal and financial challenges.
Okay, I'll grant that Trump is probably concerned about all of these things. We know from Olivia Nuzzi's reporting in New York magazine that at the height of his illness he said to someone on the phone, “I could be one of the diers.” And we know he's obsessed with winning this election (although he'll believe he really won even if Joe Biden beats him by double digits) and with staying solvent and out of prison (though he's has a lifelong run of luck on both counts, so there's no reason to believe that -- in a country that gives the wealthy endless do-overs -- his luck will run out in his post-presidency).

But here's where Harris loses me:
— He is the public-health equivalent of a wartime president. Even if he genuinely believes that he has done a superb job battling the coronavirus pandemic, he lives with the knowledge that words he says and actions in balancing health and economic imperatives will have life-and-death consequences. These are not abstractions but actual individuals with names and addresses.

Who would not be carrying an awesome psychological burden under these circumstances?
Donald Trump? A guy who stiffed contractors his entire life? Who defrauded veterans and pensioners with a scam "university"? Who's so self-absorbed he calls his adolescent son by his full name?

I'm not sure Trump needs to be excessively narcissistic to regard 210,000 COVID-19 dead as mere statistics -- he just has to be a CEO. Much of the plutocrat community has always felt utter indifference about individual lives. Corporation chieftains kill people all the time, whether in sub-Saharan Africa or Cancer Alley in Louisiana, and then experience untroubled sleep. Trump is a CEO and a clinical narcissist. He doesn't care about "actual individuals with names and addresses" who should have survived this year and didn't.

Harris continues:
Consider some other questions. Given how thoroughly Trump has merged his personal life with the Trump brand, with his own children working for Trump Inc., is there even one person in his life who would say, “You know, no matter what happens, I love you for the person you are—not because you are rich or you are president”? Does he have one friend close to him who would have the nerve to say: “Man, I’m worried about all the stress you are under. How about I come up to Camp David, we shoot the breeze and maybe go for a stroll, and the only rule will be we don’t talk politics or business”?
First, this supposes that Trump's idea of relaxation is to avoid talking politics or business. We know his idea of fun -- besides golf, it's watching endless hours of Fox News and tweeting about politics and his enemies, often hundreds of times a day.

And he regularly golfs with people who are unlikely to treat the outings as work. Tiger Woods. Kid Rock. Brett Favre. I'm supposed to feel sorry for a guy with a lot of famous friends?

Should I really be concerned that Trump might lose all these friends if he's no longer president, struggling with debt, and being regularly hauled into court? I'm not. The New York swells welcomed Jeffrey Epstein back after prison. I don't worry at all that the Mar-a-Lago swells will reject Trump if he faces a few disappointments. Many of them watch Fox News, too -- they'll believe he's the target of the Deep State and voter fraud. Thery'll believe he's still the rightful president. They'll never abandon him.

Trump continues to have a nice life, even if the rest of us don't. He probably always will.

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