The Narcissistic, Hypersensitive Presidency Of Donald Trump
Donald Trump is turning out to be a man uniquely obsessed with appearances, and it's impacting his entire Administration.
The parody of White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer, performed by comedian Melissa McCarthy this past Saturday on Saturday Night Live, has apparently ruffled feathers in the White House:
As the press secretary for a president who’s obsessed with how things play on cable TV, Sean Spicer’s real audience during his daily televised press briefings has always been an audience of one.
And the devastating “Saturday Night Live” caricature of Spicer that aired over the weekend — in which a belligerent Spicer was spoofed by a gum-chomping, super soaker-wielding Melissa McCarthy in drag — did not go over well internally at a White House in which looks matter.
More than being lampooned as a press secretary who makes up facts, it was Spicer’s portrayal by a woman that was most problematic in the president’s eyes, according to sources close to him. And the unflattering send-up by a female comedian was not considered helpful for Spicer’s longevity in the grueling, high-profile job in which he has struggled to strike the right balance between representing an administration that considers the media the “opposition party,” and developing a functional relationship with the press.
“Trump doesn’t like his people to look weak,” added a top Trump donor.
Trump’s uncharacteristic Twitter silence over the weekend about the “Saturday Night Live” sketch was seen internally as a sign of how uncomfortable it made the White House feel. Sources said the caricature of Spicer by McCarthy struck a nerve and was upsetting to the press secretary and to his allies, who immediately saw how damaging it could be in Trump world.
Spicer on Monday was traveling aboard Air Force One from Florida to Washington, D.C., and gamely shrugged off the spoof that was playing in loops on cable news throughout the day.
McCarthy “needs to slow down on the gum chewing; way too many pieces in there,” he joked in an interview with Extra.
And on Monday, Spicer’s allies were trying to put a happy face on the incident. “He takes the job seriously but doesn’t take himself that seriously,” said a person close to Spicer, who said he also understood the instant-viral skit helped him reach a new level of fame. “He knows that put him up on the stratosphere of recognition on a level,” this person said. “You’ve got to embrace it.”
But on Tuesday, Spicer has the uncomfortable task of facing reporters once again in the briefing room — where the elephant in the room will be the unflattering McCarthy caricature.
In a rational universe, of course, the parody on SNL would be shrugged off by the White House and dismissed by Spicer with some good-natured humor when he gets back before the White House press corps later today. More importantly, ordinarily this would be something that any other President would simply not worry about. Politicians and their aides have long been the subjects of jokes and ridicule and, since he is the public face of the Administration on a daily bais, it’s only natural that Spicer would end up being the subject of some jokes on a show that take particular delight in making fun of politicians. This is especially true in light of the fact that Spicer’s first two weeks on the job have been, to say the least, less than ideal. To some extent, this can be attributed to the fact that he’s obviously still adjusting to having a position that gives him such a high public profile and that it would be extremely hard for anyone to defend some of the things Trump has done in the past two weeks.
In the world of Donald Trump, though, this is apparently seen as a serious problem, and as Chris Cillizza notes this says as much about the President as it does about Spicer:
So, the fact that “Saturday Night Live” chose a woman to play Spicer was Trump’s biggest problem with the sketch. And, according to a major Trump donor, that’s because a woman playing a man makes Spicer look weak. (That idea deserves its own blog post, or maybe book.) Spicer’s long-term viability in the job could also be affected by the impression, which a) he had nothing to do with and b) he had zero control or influence over.
This isn’t the first time that Spicer has come under Trump’s withering glare for not measuring up. This comes from an Axios report: “Unfortunately for Spicer, Trump is obsessed with his press secretary’s performance art. Our Jonathan Swan hears that Trump hasn’t been impressed with how Spicer dresses, once asking an aide: ‘Doesn’t the guy own a dark suit?'”
In any past presidency, such a focused view on appearance — or, more accurately, a willingness to be so looks-obsessed in public — would be remarkable. Not so in the Trump White House, where, if we’ve learned anything over the past two weeks, it’s that appearances matter more than anything else to this president. He picked a Cabinet, in part, based on whether they looked like the best and the brightest. He fought a factually empty argument for days over how big (or small) the crowd was at his inauguration. He ran the announcement of his Supreme Court selection like an episode of “The Apprentice.”
The line running through almost everything that Trump has done in his early days in the White House is appearances. He is someone who has been consumed by the look of things for his entire adult life. A creature of the New York tabloid press, Trump always spent time crafting his own image — sometimes using a nom de plume to sell himself as a much-coveted playboy. Trump’s second act — as a reality TV star — only cemented his belief that appearances and perception were the most important things to master. Trump as the hard-assed boss — with an occasional heart of gold — was the image being sold on “The Apprentice.” And people ate it up.
It should come as no surprise, of course, that President Donald Trump is obsessed with appearances and how he and his Administration appear to the public as a whole. He has demonstrated this same obsession throughout the thirty-odd years that he has been in the public eye, and we can see it in everything from the banal ostentatiousness of his properties and the views he’s permitted of his home at the top of Trump Tower to the fact that everything he touches ends up being stamped with his name on it, as if he’s so insecure that people will forget who he is. It’s the reason that he’s sold everything from Trump Steaks and Trump wine to Trump branded clothing and even bottled water with the Trump name on it. In fact, as we learned when he was running for President, licensing of the “Trump” name has become a significant portion of Trump’s income and wealth stream. Given all of that, it’s not really a surprise that he would continue to be obsessed by appearances once he became President.
What this bodes for the future only time will tell. If the President, and the White House, can get this rattled by a five-minute skit on Saturday Night Live then how are they going to respond when something truly serious happens and they come across as being as bumbling and incompetent as they’ve appeared to be in the past two weeks?
Much of this, of course, can be blamed on the fact that Trump apparently has few hobbies or outside interests and, with his wife and youngest son staying in New York City at least until the end of the school year, nothing to do after hours when most of the staff has gone home and there isn’t some crisis that demands his attention. According to numerous reports since he took office, Trump apparently spends a good part of his morning, and his evenings, watching cable news networks, In the mornings, it’s Morning Joe and Fox & Friends, in the evening’s it’s apparently a channel surfing adventure that includes Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity on Fox News Channel and Anderson Cooper and Don Lemon on CNN. Indeed, several reporters have noted a correlation between stories that have been featured on one of these shows and the timing of many of Trump’s more recent Twitter rants. Not unlike the images of Lyndon Johnson during the darkest days of the Vietnam War, when he would watch all three evening broadcast network news shows simultaneously, Trump is a man who has become so narcissistic and obsessed with his image that anything that makes him look bad comes under immediate attack. That’s a dangerous quality in a President that a lead to no good whatsoever.
“Trump is a man who
has becomehas always been so narcissistic and obsessed with his image that anything that makes him look bad comes under immediate attack.”
I love you Alec Baldwin, but you need to be fired and replaced with a female Trump impersonator immediately.
I thought SNL regular Mary Gross played one of the male Democratic presidential candidates a while back (88-96?), but I couldn’t track it down. It was embarrassing to the candidate at the time, as I recall.
Good fix. Trump has always been that way.
I suggest Rosie O’Donnell to play Trump.
Is he narcissistic, insecure, and hypersensitive? Sure, of course he is. If only that was the extent of it.
Those traits are symptoms of a much larger problem for the American people; Narcissistic Personality Disorder is just one piece of the extremely damaged psychology of the so-called president. That troubled psychology is going to be tragic for a great number of us. Really…who knows how tragic? He’s already sent one Seal Team member needlessly to his death. Now the target of that botched raid is publicly taunting Trump. How does this child-like man respond? Where does it all end?
The man is obviously deluded. Crowds that don’t exist. Conspiracy theories that are easily disproved. The inability to accept anything that disagrees with his world-view.
The only ones who can stop Trump at this point are Republicans. Will one of them step up and be a hero? Will one of them save us from this mad man? I sincerely doubt it.
What does this saggy-jowled, weak-chinned, baggy-eyed, orange-skinned, turkey-necked, anus-mouthed creature see when he looks in the mirror?
Rock Hudson? Cary Grant?
@CSK: I suggest Rosie O’Donnell to play Trump.
I see Rosie O’Donnell more as Steve Bannon. In drag with the right sort of hair, she could do a pretty good job of that Bannon “I look like I just woke up after a weekend bender” look.
For Trump, I’d go with a male female impersonator. I think he would find that quite humiliating.
Time for review class:
This creature is a PIG and a PERVERT!
For Trump, I’d go with Kirk Douglas, Bill Cosby, Hugh Hefner, or Gary Busey.
For Steve Bannon, I ‘d go with Christopher Walken , Jon Voight, or Nick Nolte.
Don’t forget that he cheerfully gave Howard Stern permission to refer to his daughter Ivanka as “a piece of ass.” And, when asked by Wendy Williams what he and Ivanka had in common, replied, “Id like to say ‘sex’.”
Reddit this morning was suggesting Rosie play Trump on a skit, but have Alec Baldwin watching the skit on television and losing his mind.
This is gold!
Judging by Nolte’s most recent mug shot, he has the Bannon look down pat.
SNL really needs to jump on this! Get Rosie O’Donnell to play Trump next!
I hope the staff writers are working on this as we speak. Trump will have to be restrained, sedated, and carted off to St.Elizabeth’s.
I don’t know. Some of these stories about Trump overreacting to things like SNL skits or fat Miss Universes or whatever, they just seem too ridiculous to be true. Could it be that his team is intentionally throwing everybody off by getting them to concentrate on this nonsense?
@Stormy Dragon: Atrios has the best idea. He wants Meryl Streep.
@LaMont: Oops – looks like I was beaten to the punch – twice! Great minds think alike…
@Tony W: THAT would be awesome!!!
Trump has a 35-year history of overreacting to perceived slights and insults. The depths of his insecurity are nearly unfathomable. Why do you think he has to plaster his name all over those hideous phallic buildings he erects–you should pardon the expression–all over the globe.
For Gawd’s sake, he assured us during one presidential debate that he has a big dick. What other evidence do you need that this is his overriding compulsion?
I think the people who are cowering in front of Trump, worried that he is going to send a nasty tweet about them, need to watch this. Trump hates Saturday Night Live and has been heaping abuse on them for months now. But they are just getting stronger. For the first time in years people I know are talking about the show through the week. That has not happened since I was in university 30 years ago.
Whether Trump and his administration are intentionally doing it or not, this is exactly what is happening. No one is talking about any of Trump’s remaining and deplorable cabinet members waiting to be confirmed. No one is talking about the gag orders Trump placed on different levels of government (ex. EPA). No ones talking about that soldier who needlessly loss his life on a mission that was doomed before Trump said “go”! And that’s just to name a few!
There has been and will be a ton of smoke and mirrors coming from this administration. It is ours and the media’s job to bring those things to light.
I just read that Rosie O’Donnell has offered to play Bannon.
But I still like the idea of Rosie playing Trump, and Baldwin playing Trump going nuts watching her play him.
I keep thinking that a normal politician who rises high in the US has to be able to laugh at him/her self. They just can’t be thin skinned. SNL and the like will spend the next 4 years making fun of Trump, especially since he acts like an ignorant buffoon so much of the time. If he really takes this stuff to heart, I think he’ll have a very unhappy presidency.
The narcissist isn’t going to like this…new approve/disapprove numbers are out and while his approval only dropped 3 points (only!!!) his disapprove numbers are climbing rapidly.
Clearly the ones who were undecided are staring to decide.
@Daryl’s other brother Darryl:
Aw, Daryl. This is fake news. Trump already Tweeted yesterday that any polls that showed him declining in approval were fake news, because the American people WANT extreme vetting and borders closed to Muslims.
Except if Rosie plays Bannon and makes him look “weak” to His Petulancy, it puts Bannon’s job security in jeopardy the same way Spicer’s feeling the heat. Bannon’s sitting pretty comfy in the Big Chair when Donald’s not looking so anything to help destabilize him is good. Trump takes the hit to the ego and suddenly Mr. Breitbart is a weak laughing stock instead of the power behind the throne.
Do it, SNL. Do it for America.
Well, not ALL people, but enough to put our country in the hands of PT Trump. We’re getting all show and no horse, because people love a show. We keep getting back to bread and circuses, because it works.
It’s hard not to be overcome with cynicism.
I want this so bad it hurts.
Granted the most important thing is that the damage Trump would do needs to be minimized and reversible. But, it’s also really important that Trump’s experience be a publicly miserable one. He needs to be made an example for any other narcissistic hucksters who might follow his precedent.
This pathetic little man needs validation like air. It’s blatant to anyone with eyes or ears. Some of the stories being leaked might be too outlandish to be believed (the lightswitch story is one) but Orange-Aid throwing fits that he’s being mocked non-stop? If anything, it’s being *under-reported*. He’s the kind who thinks he’s an Alpha Male: Always Awesome, Always Badass, Always Sexy and Always Right. The world exists to serve him and give him what he wants. The *slightest* hint that’s not true will cause psychological and emotional pain that must be repaid thrice.
This guy thought he had Tiger Blood before Sheen coined it. Whatever tantrums we’re seeing, I promise you it’s x100 worse behind closed doors.
Trump is probably realizing that he is in way, way, way over his head and intellectual capacity, so he’s focusing on what he does understand: boiling everything down to appearances.
@KM: I mentioned the Politico piece earlier today to my husband and noted that SNL is almost morally obligated to cast Rosie O’Donnell as Bannon. I also think that having Dennis O’Leary play Kellyanne Conway would likely send him over the edge too.
@Franklin: Truth is always stranger than fiction because fiction has to make sense. I tilt toward real on your question. Trump’s people would not be likely to think of these types of stories for a diversion.
@CSK: OOH…that might even be better. Rosie as Bannon and Baldwin as Trump with the focus of the skit being the idea of Trump getting shouted down and cowed by Bannon as Bannon is the real “brains” of the WH.
I think that may tag all of the bases.
Dear Mr. Trump:
Reality doesn’t give a crap about your ego. Which you will quickly learn (zika, tsunami, asteroid).
(One of the reasons I’m ecstatic about having had the experience of being a grad student in physics. As my boyfriend–another theoretical physicist–told me when I was complaining about the failure rate in research: “95% of the time you’re running up blind alleys. Get used to it or get out of the field. Reality doesn’t care.” )
Or maybe a Bannon as ventroquilist Trump as dummy schtick…
This. Yes. If they balk, can we start a GoFundME to pay for them? We could raise some serious cash to tempt them PDQ……
@CSK: I certainly agree with all of you that all available evidence points to this being some sort of actual problem he has. I’m just hoping he’s not one step ahead of us rather than being several evolutionary steps behind us.
And as LaMont says, it doesn’t really matter. Most of us *are* getting distracted from the truly important issues. This stuff is good for a laugh, but we can’t concentrate on it.
No. I don’t think he’s smart enough to be playing the kind of four-dimensional chess his admirers claim he’s mastered. That would also require patience and attention to detail, and he possesses neither quality.
He’s an infant with an infant’s ego and an infant’s endless need for attention.
Interestingly, back when the Trumpkins were worshiping Sarah Palin, they attributed to her the same qualities.
@KM: Willem Dafoe Could do Conway just as well. Remember his Boondock Saints FBI guy?
@KM: Willem Dafoe could do Conway just as well.
One silver lining of the Trump Administration: it’s reminding us of why free speech, a free-wheeling culture, a tradition of satire and a disrespect toward authority are so critical.
At some point, Trump is going to have a very public and very ugly meltdown.
I see comments about how “we” are being distracted by all of Trump’s ridiculous twitter outbursts. I’m not and I believe than one can be amused and / or appalled by his actions AND work towards resisting him. Mocking Trump continuously and mercilessly is an effective strategy in dealing with this man-child.
Truer than you know. This person requires validation like we require air to breath.
Now he’s locked into the insular bunker that is the White House, essentially alone without his family, surrounded by toadies pursuing their own agendas and besieged on all sides by protest, ridicule and vilification. He will crack sooner rather than later.
I just want to watch it happen. If we’re lucky he’ll take his politically revanchist looney bin of a party down with him.
Most people, even those who detest Trump, have no real idea how dangerously unstable this man is, or of the level of rage his failure to crash Old New York Society has engendered in him. You do. I do.
As for him being alone in the WH bunker: I suspect that Ivanka and Jared decided to move to Washington to keep an eye on him when Melania made it clear she was staying put in NY, possibly permanently.
I never knew Donald Trump had led such a sheltered and serene existence. He must have hired a much more tough-minded double to build a business empire, which oddly seems to shift from incredibly massive and substantial to flimsy and fraudulent depending on what his critics had for breakfast, spend 30+ years in the public eye in one of the toughest media markets in the world, and then endure over a year of non-stop abuse and ridicule running for President. I mean, the guy who did all that couldn’t possibly be the same one described over and over by the oh so insightful folks who congregate here.
You could all be wrong about him, I guess, but it’s not like anything horrible ever happened because people like you underestimated Donald Trump, so what does it matter?
He didn’t build a business empire, he inherited a metric assload of money and declared bankruptcy so many times nobody will lend to him anymore and he resorts to licensing his name.
He paid a LOT of money to settle the fraud lawsuits.
And he won’t release his tax returns, so you can’t see a) who owns him or b) how little he’s actually worth.
And is heavily documented to be temperamental, impulsive, self-centered and petty. The internet never forgets. There was even a TV show about his pettiness in business – I hear you can watch it on Netflix if you don’t trust print or the internet. Now, you might be one of those sad souls who think asshat = badass = authority but I assure you, the vast majority of people wouldn’t want their direct supervisor to act the way he does. Much like with the Big Bang Theory, Sheldon might be your favorite character but you’d never want to room with him IRL.
He’s been a well-known fraudulent jerk for decades to the point he’s been a caricature of a petty, wealthy screwup for the Simpsons since the early 90s.
That is one of the unspoken consequences of the job. It’s the most monitored public position in the world and so everyone in the world has an opinion or twenty. Not everyone will like you so if you can’t take the abuse, don’t bother to run for office. If he’s not mentally strong enough to take criticism, he’s not strong enough to be President.
N. Korea and Russia’s gonna make fun of him eventually. Is he going to take that super personally too?
Never say “what’s the worst that can happen” because the gods take that as a challenge. Every week shows he’s not what he sold the public. He picked a fight with Australia for god’s sake. One day soon, he’s going to cross a line even you can’t explain away. The “I told you so”‘s will persist after the grave.
Why the narcissistic, hypersensitivity to the Presidency of Donald Trump?
She has already volunteered to play Bannon. In light of Trump`s attitude that being played by a woman in a skit makes a man look weak, SNL should hire her stat in the national interest…
@MBunge: I believe that you would find that most of us are not actually ‘underestimating’ Pres Trump. Based on his first couple of weeks I personally was overestimating him. His actual performance is considerably worse than I’d have predicted.
Any ‘underestimating’ on my part was counting on the American electorate to see through an obvious fraud before casting their ballot.
@MBunge: WHAT business empire?! The man had to have capital injections from Dad to bail him out every so often, he started this whole circus with $100 M in the pot back in the 1970s (hello, anyone could have succeeded with that as a background) and he’s taken advantage of every tax loophole which was specifically written for the real estate market.
You’re praising someone who started a race 15 feet from the finish line and had jet-assisted shoes. Sorry, but that doesn’t impress me.
Please let me help you out here:
“Why the narcissistic, hypersensitivity
toof the Presidency of Donald Trump?”
There, you’re welcome.
Answer: Because Trump is who he is. He is the same person he has always been; vain, petty, narcissistic, and a vindictive autocrat. Many people expected that Trump would change once he was inaugurated. I never understood people who believed that fantasy.
Shameless plug: Ezra Klein has a terrific article on vox-dot-com “How to Stop an Autocracy” pointing out the obvious but generally overlooked fact that Pres Trump has very little authority that cannot be severely limited by Congress. And in the present circumstance that means ‘by Congressional Republicans.’
May I suggest that there is nothing supernatural going on here.
Whether or not the republic survives this cretin will rest solely on human endeavor.
The god Murphy heard that. Sh!t.
Too little too late for this thread, but I saw this recently and had to share it: a photo of a British protester wearing a sign that said
(Think “Mary Poppins”, for those of you who didn’t get it immediately…)
A deity I am unfamiliar with. Must be some sort of potato worship.
Call Any Vegetable
Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention/Absolutely Free
Wish I had thought of that.
@Mr. Bluster: I think the deity in question is The Lady. (Don’t call her–she might show up, or she might decide to have an asteroid fall on your head. She’s like that.).
Her eyes flash green.
And she likes the sound of rattling dice.
When The Economist is calling you a sucker for Putin….
Too bad little Donald doesn’t read anything more complicated than a page of bullet points.
I think Randy Rainbow might have been first out of the gate with that. He modifies show tunes to skewer Trump, and has had several very funny ones.
Yeah, well I didn’t call her and when she did show up
I sent her packin’.