The State of Donald Trump's Ego is Bruised, Insecure, Afraid
Donald Trump’s speech at the State of the Union address last night had a lot of moments. He tried to take credit for the economic boom started under President Obama. He reminded people of the Republican tax giveaways he enacted just as people are filing their taxes and finding out they owe more in taxes this year. He tried to tout women’s employment numbers, and it blew up in his face as the newly strengthened House Democratic women pointed to themselves as the holders of those jobs. He babbled on and on about his vanity wall on the border. He professed his love for dictators like North Korea’s Kim Jung-Un and claimed to be the savior of America from thermo-nuclear war.
In other words, the speech was what you would expect from Trump: a lot of crazy, albeit delivered in better prose than his usual screeds.
But there was one thing in particular that showed how insecure and scared Donald Trump is. It was something he inserted into the speech that neither belonged there nor had to be spoken at all. It was the one thing Trump threatened Congress over, essentially saying that this one thing would preempt any willingness to get legislative agenda accomplished. And that one thing was not the wall.
It was investigations. He couldn’t help himself.
"An economic miracle is taking place in the United States — and the only thing that can stop it are foolish wars, politics, or ridiculous partisan investigations. If there is going to be peace and legislation, there cannot be war and investigation. It just doesn't work that way."
I am not going to waste my time delineating all the substantive reasons this is a ridiculous statement, or pointing out all the previous instances in previous presidencies that this was proven false for.
Instead, I am going to discuss the mindset - or the combination of states of mind - that it takes to make such a superbly authoritarian yet categorically dumb statement at a State of the Union address.
First, it takes dense, egotistical authoritarianism for any president to believe that he is either above the law (and thus immune to the Special Counsel’s investigation) or above the Article I powers the Constitution grants to a coequal branch of government (and thus should not be subject to being investigated by Congress). It involves breathtaking ignorance of the oath of office that he and every other elected official takes to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic, of which Donald Trump is likely both.
But that’s not all it takes. An authoritarian who confidently believes in the unchecked nature of his powers would not need to plead with Congress, or even threaten legislative progress, to try to stop such investigations. A confident authoritarian would not even tacitly, let alone publicly, recognize the legitimacy of the investigations, which Donald Trump did by ceding that Congress, not he, can stop it. Lastly, an authoritarian with confidence would never let it be known that those investigations are affecting his ability to work on the country’s business.
That Donald Trump did all of this shows that Trump is an authoritarian in his own bubble, but he’s been taught a lesson by Speaker Nancy Pelosi who both forced him to surrender on the government shutdown and delayed his State of the Union address. That bruised his ego. He learned the hard way that Congress - at least the House of Representatives - was no longer his willing servant. He learned that he had no control over what Pelosi does as the head of a coequal branch.
Trump’s bruised ego led to insecurity because he now knows for a fact that there will be no more Devin Nunes running to the White House with House intel reports on the Russia investigation. Even the Republican senate seems to want at least lip service from Trump’s AG nominee that he will not shut down the Mueller’s Russia investigation, which makes him insecure within his own branch of government. And, he knows whatever amount of success he might (or might not) have in keeping the Mueller report from public view, he will not be able to keep it from the powerful Speaker and chairmen in the House committees.
Then there is his tax returns. The law is clear that Treasury shall produce Trump’s tax returns upon request from a Congressional committee. Just like the Mueller probe and Congressional Russia investigations, Trump knows deep down that it’s ultimately out of his hands.
Which, of course, engenders the last of the set of emotions: fear. He’s egotistical about his conduct and insecure about what will be found out, but he is downright afraid about the consequences when all the evidence is in. Will it be indictment? Impeachment? A landslide re-election loss? Trump has no idea, and that is petrifying for him.
Behind a face trying to appear to be in command of his bearings, the truth of Donald Trump became clear when through his pleas and threats about the investigations, he acknowledged that other people - and another branch of government headed by a powerful and unafraid woman - has power over him. He is a naked emperor with a bruised ego, insecure and afraid.
Like what you read? Chip in, keep us going.