I’ve never understood Trump’s appeal. I never saw his show on TV, but whenever I saw him on a talk show, he seemed like a buffoon to me. He was always spouting nonsense and bragging about himself. I dismissed him quite easily. When he was running for President, it seemed like more of the same. Just a publicity stunt; riding down the escalator like a king. It felt like a parody. I never thought he’d win of course, right up until election night. I couldn’t wrap my mind around how some people saw a great man who should lead a nation. I saw a complete asshole who lied every time he opened his mouth, was prone to conspiracy theories and was frequently, demonstrably just wrong about stuff.
Over the course of his presidency, I’ve tried to figure out what it is people like about him. When I see his approval ratings in the 40% range, while relatively low, I still can’t believe that many people approve of him. He has shown himself to be a racist, a Nazi sympathizer, a misogynist, a pathological liar, a tax cheat, as well as being an admitted sexual predator. I just don’t get it.
I’ve also struggled with understanding the man himself. How can he have no shame, no sense of embarrassment? How can he be so lacking in self awareness? How can be so convinced of his perceived superiority in the face of all his failures, missteps, and demonstrable lies? He tweeted about Senator Mitt Romney today because Romney had the nerve to be critical of him. Something he said clicked in my mind and I think I finally have answers to my questions. Here are the tweets:
Romney had taken a principled stand and commented, as a member of Congress, that Trump’s call to have China investigate one man; Joe Biden, was wrong and appalling. Regardless of one’s political persuasion, this statement is an arguably reasonable position to take after Trump stood on the White House lawn and actually said those words. He specifically called on China to launch an investigation into Joe Biden, who of course is running to be the Democratic nominee for the 2020 Presidential race. What does Trump do? Lie about what he did, and then insult Romney and say he didn’t know how to win. Aha! He didn’t know how to win. It suddenly makes sense to me!
Trump cares only about winning. Life is about winning or losing. People are either winners or losers. And he’s going to be a winner, no matter what he has to do. Even if he clearly, objectively loses, he will claim victory by playing the victim and claiming a bias against him. A few examples, just off the top of my head:
When the NY Times showed he had alleged over a billion dollars in losses in a decade of tax returns, showing him as the biggest loser in the country, he claimed it was a political hit job and the Times was fake news, failing and didn’t understand business. He “won” the exchange, regardless of the facts, i.e. that he was the biggest loser. What goes unsaid is that those “losses” are paper losses allowing him to pay $0 in taxes for a decade. He wins, everyone else is a bunch of losers for paying taxes. He said as much when Clinton called him out on it in one of their debates. She tried to show how disgraceful it was to cheat to avoid paying taxes. Contributing nothing to the military, infrastructure, and all the things we pay for together as Americans. Because he has no shame and cares only about winning, he said that just makes him smart. He wins.
When his airline when bankrupt, he claimed he got out at a great time and made lots of money. Never mind the investors, lenders and others hurt by the bankruptcy. He won. When Marco Rubio tried to paint him as a lousy businessman in a debate by pointing out his many bankrupt businesses, he responded by telling Rubio he knew nothing about business, and that all those bankruptcies were smart business moves. So much winning.
When a lawsuit went against him, it was because it was a very unfair ruling. The judge was biased against him, because he was Mexican and Trump was building a wall. Then he claims victory in defeat by saying he’ll appeal the decision and win. Never mind if he ever actually does. He won in the moment.
It’s why he couldn’t stop talking about his Electoral College victory in 2016. He even tweeted that he ran for President and won on his first try. Sure, other Presidents mocked him by replying that they all won on their first tries as well, but the man has no shame. He can’t be embarrassed. He won and that’s all that matters.
Speaking of the 2016 election, it’s why he and his campaign cooperated with Russia to defeat Clinton. The Russians contacted his campaign and asked if he wanted some dirt on Clinton. Are you kidding? To help him win?! Of course he did. Does it matter that it’s illegal to accept foreign help in a political race? Does it matter that it’s Russia, a long time adversary of the United States? Of course not. It’s going to help him win. Anyone who wouldn’t take the help is a loser. And Trump is not a loser.
It’s why now, after escaping from the Mueller investigation into his cooperation with Russia, he is using the Justice Department to go around the world trying to get foreign countries to investigate the United States! He wants them to show that Russia did not, in fact, help him win because some people may believe that and that makes him look like less of a winner. Does it matter that he’s the President of the United States and it’s his own government he’s asking these foreign nations to investigate? Of course not. He’s trying to win. If you were a winner, you’d do what it takes too. Loser.
He’s so caught up in winning, that he even projects his personal wins to the nation. He thinks we all feel like we’re winning if he wins. He fabricates stories that people walk up to him and say, Mr. President, please, we’re tired of all this winning.
In the ongoing investigation into the Trump Organization by the State of NY, his team of lawyers has taken the position that Trump can’t be investigated for any crimes while he’s President. An absurd argument of course, but it stalled the proceedings, therefore, you guessed it: a win.
The House of Representatives is currently running an Impeachment Inquiry and requesting documents from the White House. Of course they aren’t complying, even though they know ultimately that will just add an Obstruction of Congress charge to the Articles of Impeachment the House will ultimately take up. They will take the win now and expect to win in the trial by the Senate. Trump will then play the victim when he’s impeached by the House and claim it to be an anti-Trump biased political witch hunt because they can’t handle that he’s such a winner. Of course it won’t matter that he did in fact ask the government of Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden and his son, and apparently held up Congressionally approved military aid until they agreed to. He has no shame. He still won.
What is most frightening about this revelation of mine is something Trump has already said, when asked back in 2016 if he’d accept the results of the election:
“I would like to promise and pledge to all of my voters and supporters and to all of the people of the United States that I will totally accept the results of this great and historic presidential election, if I win,” Trump told supporters here in his first comments since the final debate.¹
What might happen if he loses his reelection bid in November 2020? The best case scenario will be that he leaves office claiming the election was rigged, he was treated unfairly, the House cheated him because of the Impeachment, millions of illegal immigrants voted for Democrats after they were brought across the border by George Soros, etc. At least he’ll leave and spend the rest of his days tweeting about how he actually won. I don’t want to imagine the worst case scenario.
¹ Donald Trump: ‘I will totally accept’ election results ‘if I win’