The Narcissist in Chief, II

This could be a very long series.

“President Trump Departs for Louisiana” by The White House is in the Public Domain

Last week, I noted several examples of Trump making the crisis about himself. Here is another example:

This is a remarkably gross display that encapsulates so much that is wrong with him and his presidency. His simple-minded focus on the DJIA and his childlike fascination with “records” is, as I said last week, continually stunning even as it is unsurprising.

To focus on a one-day gain like it was somehow a huge fix is to ignore the last several weeks. Here’s the last six months of the Dow:

Yes, fantastic, after the Trump administration finally was seen as doing something, the market rebounded somewhat. As USAT reported:

Stocks accelerated gains in the final half hour of trading in the midst of Trump’s remarks to post their biggest one-day gain since the financial crisis. Traders and analysts said the latest developments removed some uncertainty that was hanging over financial markets. 

“The change in tone shows that the Trump administration is taking this more seriously now,” says Thomas Martin, senior portfolio manager at Atlanta-based GLOBALT Investments. “This still isn’t over by any stretch, but it’s a better sign.”

Stocks stabilized after Wall Street’s worst day since the “Black Monday” crash of 1987. The Dow Jones industrial average jumped 1,985 points to close at 23,185.62, a day after plunging 2,352 points, or 10%, for its worst loss since its nearly 23% drop on Oct. 19, 1987. 

The Standard & Poor’s 500 soared 9.3% to end at 2,711.02. The broad index tumbled more than 20% from its February record Thursday, sliding into a bear market and officially ending Wall Street’s historic 11-year bull market run.

To take credit for a record surge at a specific moment in time without acknowledging the context of that surge is illustrative of a self-centered simpleton (and writing that sentence without expletives or with an even more vituperative description was difficult).

A normal person doesn’t brag about a blip of a surge given the tumble the market just had–especially when we are very much in the early stages of this crisis. Worse, the reason for much of the decline in the market has been the utter absences of a clear response to the crisis by this administration.

The fact that all that seems to matter to him in the DJIA is also a clear sign of his lack of qualification for the office he holds. It is truly distressing to watch.


Update II:

Via CNN: Trump sends signed chart showing stock market gains to supporters after he declared coronavirus a national emergency

The note, which was also sent to some members of Congress, included screenshots of television coverage of the stock market closing much higher than Thursday.

“The President would like to share the attached image with you, and passes along the following message: ‘From opening of press conference, biggest day in stock market history!’ ” read the note, a copy of which was obtained by CNN from a source with familiar with it.

The message did not mention the overall coronavirus crisis, the number of people who have died or are sick, nor the fact that he had just declared a national emergency. More than 2,200 people had been diagnosed with coronavirus as of late Friday night and 49 have died.

The only proper response is: WTF?

FILED UNDER: *FEATURED, Health, US Politics, , , , , , , ,
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter


  1. Michael Reynolds says:

    Yep. Here we are in a genuine crisis and the single best thing the President of the United States could do for the country is resign and take his Bible-thumping Easter Island head of a Vice President with him.

    Trump is as feckless as Buchanan, as corrupt as Harding, as malicious as Jackson, as sleazy as Bill Clinton, as stupid as George W. Bush, and when it comes to lying he blows Nixon out of the water. He is the sum of all bad presidents.

  2. grumpy realist says:

    @Michael Reynolds: And he’s supported by far too many Americans who should know better.

  3. CSK says:

    Trump has also said that if the press reported on him honestly, his approval rating would be at least 75%.

  4. Jay L Gischer says:

    Well, I think that the main thing keeping his approval numbers up (if you call 40ish percent up) is that the economy is doing well. But it looks like that won’t be true now, so he finds it disturbing. Not that I’m contradicting your analysis of childish and narcissistic, just fleshing it out. To me, it isn’t so much stupid as it is immature.

  5. mattbernius says:

    Steven, I love the idea of a series, but I think Dan Drezner might take a little issue with the title/concept. but what was that about how “Talent borrows. Genius Steals!”?

    BTW, this isn’t complete without a mention of the signed printout of the stock market chart he sent to Fox News last night.

  6. Gustopher says:

    @Michael Reynolds: George W. Bush wasn’t stupid, he was lazy. He wanted to be President, but he didn’t really want to do the job, so he left it to his underlings who he didn’t watch over very well.

    And Trump has the same quality, plus being stupid.

    Plus a few qualities all his own — I don’t think we have ever had a president who so firmly believed that he was a victim.

  7. Kathy says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    He is the sum of all bad presidents.

    Unfortunately, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

  8. Lounsbury says:

    @Michael Reynolds: Come now, while no fan of Bush Ibn Bush, Trump is truly stupid. Bush was merely lazy.

  9. gVOR08 says:

    Much as I’d like to do this like Trump and blame all market drops on Trump and credit all rises to Obama, I don’t think Trump’s day to day pronouncements have much to do with it. Chinese and Japanese stocks were also up Friday. If a reaction to non-economic news at all, more likely to the dramatic drop in new cases in China and South Korea.

  10. @mattbernius: I don’t think I have Drezener’s perservance on this topic…

    And I have added the CNN story to the post. Just freakin’ insane. It is truly disturbing, to be honest.

  11. @gVOR08: To be clear, I do not blame Trump for all of the drops, although I do think his generally terrible approach to this crisis has made it all worse.

  12. JohnMcC says:

    @Michael Reynolds: Stolen from someone at Balloon-Juice this morning: This week has been like experiencing the Spanish Flu while also having the Wall Street Crash of ’29 and having an administration that combines Harding’s incompetence with Nixon’s pettiness and paranoia.

    My reaction to this administration and this week in particular is to be grateful for my childhood in a firmly Calvinist home. The certainty of everything going to Hell lets one relax find wonder and amusement in the circus performance of the so-called-conservative party and the leader they found who came down to their values.

  13. Paine says:

    I like how when the reporter asked if he was going to get tested he said he would, but not because she was asking. He was going to do it for other reasons. Like a 12-year old who agrees to clean his room not because his mom was nagging him… because he was planning on doing it anyway.

  14. Teve says:

    @JohnMcC: Kevin Kruse tweeted that a few days ago. 😀

  15. Paine says:

    This whole sad episode is an excellent case study in how the electoral college distorts public policy decisions. Does anyone doubt that if the epicenter were Florida as opposed to Washington State that Trump would have been a lot more quicker in coming up with a response? No doubt Trump is looking at this stupid red/blue map of America and making decisions based on preferred electoral outcomes as opposed to the wider general welfare. The people in the deep blue states matter a lot less…

  16. Modulo Myself says:

    Trump lacks psychological bandwidth, and he literally does not understand how fear actually works. Quarantining a city is different than getting caught trying to frame Hunter Biden. You can bullshit about the latter because how many people are affected by abuse of power? But you can’t bullshit about the former. You do it and take responsibility or you don’t and you take responsibility. This last week has destroyed him completely. The spread of Coronavirus is the first thing that’s happened to him that he didn’t create, and he’s too dumb to grasp even that.

  17. mattbernius says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    And I have added the CNN story to the post. Just freakin’ insane. It is truly disturbing, to be honest.

    Agreed. Additionally, if you apply PoTUS logic, that that jump was also preceded by three of the greatest ever drops in the markets (two of which were both greater drops in terms of points than this “accomplishment”).

  18. Modulo Myself says:

    Also, I just saw a screenshot of a text from someone who works at a hospital in California. Basically, every ICU bed has a Covid-19 patient in it. Elective surgeries are cancelled, and they’re talking about a quarantine of the city.

  19. Scott F. says:

    @grumpy realist:

    And he’s supported by far too many Americans who should know better.

    From the day he came down to escalator to announce, Trump has been exactly what he has always been. That he is a narcissistic grifter is a constant.

    The outcome in the Trumpism equation only changes when the variables change – like the lockstep support of Congressional Republicans or the blind sycophancy of the Trumpkins.

    The Narcissist in Chief series is already old news. I’m watching for the break in his support.

  20. Michael Reynolds says:

    Calvinists got nothing on Jews when it comes to assuming shit will go to hell eventually.

  21. grumpy realist says:

    So far the only damage I’ve taken from this whole coronavirus thing is dropping a can of tomatoes on my foot. Ow!

  22. Teve says:

    My friend the Lit professor on FB:

    If you think Trump’s colossal failure in a crisis means he can’t be reelected, remember: the mayor in Jaws was still the mayor in Jaws 2

  23. Teve says:

    Some of you may know I sell cell phones and data plans in Florida.

    I just had a 60 something woman and her 80 something mother tell me that it’s no worse than the flu. Fox News poisonings.

  24. @Kathy: I’d argue he’s actually the product of all bad presidents…

  25. Joe says:

    If by “as,” Michael Reynolds, you mean “more,” I agree with you entirely.

  26. DrDaveT says:

    @Scott F.:

    The Narcissist in Chief series is already old news. I’m watching for the break in his suppor


    Trump has no floor; we know that. America’s future depends on whether his voters have a floor, and which subbasement it lives on.

  27. Mister Bluster says:

    WTOP Radio Washington DC is reporting that Trump has tested negative for COVID-19.

  28. Just nutha ignint cracker says:


    the leader they found who came down to their values.

    You really think Trump had higher values than the Republicans he represents? Hmmmm… Seems like a stretch to me.

  29. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Mister Bluster: Shit…

  30. JohnMcC says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: No, no. I meant to say what I assume you are implying: That Mr Trump was low character enough to actually represent himself as the Tea Party candidate and with that, to sweep the R-party into his pocket like stealing the next table’s tip.

  31. Teve says:

    My friend the Lit professor 2:

    Peeked in on a friend who after the news conference yesterday posted “Best President of my lifetime!” and similar sentiments.

    The many comments on the post were of like mind. Everybody thought Trump was brilliant and decisive.

    It’s like gazing at a completely different world.

  32. CSK says:

    Or taking a trip over to “Best president of my life” is a constant refrain over there.

  33. Kathy says:


    Who knew there were so many literate three-year olds.

  34. charon says:
  35. Teve says:

    @charon: @Kathy: @CSK:

    I am a terrible person I suppose, but I want Donald Trump to reject all of these DemonCrap hoax lies and have lots and lots of rallies with lots of elderly supporters for the next six months.

  36. charon says:


    I am not any less terrible than you


    people getting sick, even Trumpers, will overwhelm the hospitals and force triage of ventilators, ICU etc. and beyond that any sort of care at all for the elderly. People, not just Trumpers, will be on their own with no access to care.

    Which is why I am going prepper re groceries, not intending to do much more shopping for the next few months, as the elderly especially will get triaged to no care at all based on less remaining years of life – it’s what is happening in Italy.

    IOW, Trump rallies hurt everyone, creating lots of COVID-19 Typhoid Marys.

  37. Jax says:

    It feels weird that I shop for Armageddon when I hit Sam’s Club or Costco, because that’s just how it is out here. 100 to 170 miles, depending on the roads.

    Do people actually buy only 4 rolls of toilet paper at a time? I have my “main order” set up before I get to the store, then I buy the fresh and frozen stuff on the fly. I generally drop a grand or so, and don’t need to worry about anything for ingredients or paper products for 6 months.

  38. rachel says:

    @Lounsbury: Lazy and easily manipulated, so Boss Tweet is like him in that, too.

  39. Lynn says:

    @CSK: Or taking a trip over to

    I will never unsee what I saw there. 🙁

  40. Mu Yixiao says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Calvinists got nothing on Jews when it comes to assuming shit will go to hell eventually.

    And the Catholics feel really guilty about all of it. 🙂

  41. Mu Yixiao says:

    Honest question:

    How would Hillary have handled this? My impression of her has always been that she’s just as much a narcissist as Trump–just more shrewd about it.

  42. Mikey says:

    @Mu Yixiao: Hillary wouldn’t have fired anyone and everyone who knew what to do and then replaced them with obsequious, incompetent toadies.

  43. Mikey says:

    @Mikey: I should have phrased this as “anyone and everyone who would have known what to do.”

  44. @Michael Reynolds:

    He is the sum of all bad presidents.

    Worse. Voltron. Ever.

  45. DrDaveT says:

    @Mu Yixiao:

    My impression of her has always been that she’s just as much a narcissist as Trump

    Can you point to any specific act or statement that makes you feel this way, or is your “impression” baseless? It’s an outrageous claim, you know — Trump is off the scale in this regard.

    (I have been generally impressed by the quality of your commentary on this site, so this one really came out of left field for me…)

  46. Mu Yixiao says:


    It started when she moved to NY state–one with a very short residency requirement so she could run for congress.

    The whole bit about using her own e-mail servers. I don’t think it’s a “scandal”, but it’s bad security and directly against established protocols. But.. she’s Hillary so she didn’t have to follow the rules.

    Her campaigns in both 2008 and 2016 came across as “I deserve this”, “Women must vote for me because I’m a woman”, and ‘”you owe me.” The campaign wasn’t about what she would do for the country, but that she would be the first woman president. I wasn’t at all surprised when Obama stepped up and took the nomination from her. He spoke to the people.

    And it never seems to be her fault (What Happened).

    Harris, Warren, and Gabbard built campaigns on what they would do for America (whether I find their plans good or not). Hillary built hers on “being Hillary”.

    I was overseas during the 2016 campaign season, and the news I saw was certainly different than what was being shown here, but–as I said–my impression goes back to her moving to NY and her primary campaign against Obama.

  47. DrDaveT says:

    @Mu Yixiao: Thanks for the detailed response. I certainly perceived some of those things differently, and I don’t think any of them would make Trump’s top 10 list in terms of flagrant narcissism, but I appreciate you taking the time to explain.

  48. Mu Yixiao says:


    I don’t think any of them would make Trump’s top 10 list in terms of flagrant narcissism

    That’s because Trump is idiotic about his narcissism. Hillary is crafty about hers.

    That being said: My belief is that if Hillary had been president for this, she would have handled it just as badly– badly in different ways–but just as badly. I see her taking the “Get out of my way. I’ll handle this.” approach rather than listening to the experts.

    I think Obama would have had a slow start, but would have done the right thing. I think Bill Clinton would have had a slow start, stepped aside to let the experts handle it, and then take the credit himself. And we saw how Bush II handled a crisis.

  49. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Mu Yixiao:
    The essential difference is that Clinton or Obama or even George W., would not have lied for weeks. They’d have been smart enough to know that was going to bite them in the ass.

    The issue with Trump is not just that he made bad decisions about testing, about funding, about firing our pandemic experts, but that he has lied for four years and continues to lie so that nothing he says can be believed. Narcissism is pretty common amongst people who think they should be leaders of the free world, but as you suggest, there’s smart narcissism, and then there’s Trump.

  50. Mu Yixiao says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    You’ll get no argument from me on any of that.

  51. Mu Yixiao says:


    (I have been generally impressed by the quality of your commentary on this site, so this one really came out of left field for me…)

    I meant to say “Thank you” for this comment earlier, but got distracted by laundry, cats, and scotch.

    I know I’m out of my league here. I’m just a guy who’s lived a really long time, seen more shit than he probably should have, seen more countries than most where I live have seen symphony concerts, and has strong opinions.

    In the areas where I’m knowledgeable, I sound like Michael Reynolds (And before I stopped posting drunk, I’d occasionally sound like a rabid redditor). Around here, I’m just trying to keep up and learn what I can (and toss in the odd bad joke).

    I disagree with a lot of people here about a wide range of topics. But y’all are helping me to understand why I disagree, and articulate it in appropriate context. And despite my mid-western penchant for having a head made of granite, I’m sometimes changing my mind.

    ETA: missing comma

  52. MarkedMan says:

    @Mu Yixiao: You comment that Hillary Clinton was a sociopathic narcissist on par with Donal Trump because she only moved to New York State because it had a short residency requirement for Senate runs. My reaction: “WTF!!??”

    When Bill’s presidency was over they decided they weren’t moving back to Arkansas. They chose an area that matched their political, business and personal interests. They bought a house in upstate NY and they started the Clinton Institute in Harlem, bringing hundreds of jobs there. She ran for Senate in an election. You know those things where the residents of an area get to vote on whether or not they want someone to represent them? One of those. I voted for her, twice. And was very satisfied with the way she represented us, and not just on the national and global issues but on the local ones that were raised during frequent trips around the state.

    How you can take that history and trot it out as proof of a vile and corrupt intent is beyond me.

  53. MarkedMan says:

    @Mu Yixiao: By the way, I have been wondering: where does your handle come from?

  54. Mu Yixiao says:


    You comment that Hillary Clinton was a sociopathic narcissist

    Didn’t say that. You added an adjective which changes the narrative.

    How you can take that history and trot it out as proof of a vile and corrupt intent is beyond me

    Didn’t do that. I said I don’t trust her or her motives. The excessive adjectives (and the implications) are yours, not mine.

  55. Mu Yixiao says:


    By the way, I have been wondering: where does your handle come from?

    It’s my Chinese name.

    I spent 6 years in China and needed a name I could use for a host of online stuff (lots of Chinese databases only allow 6-8 characters for a field–because that’s all they need for pinyin).

    My family name starts with an M. The options are limited (and I would never associate myself with Mao) so… okay. Plus it means “revered”.

    Yi Xiao:
    Yi(4) means “a great fire”–I’m passionate and sometimes “hot headed”.
    Xiao(1) means “the roar of a tiger”–I’ve got a rather booming voice.

    Plus… any transliterations of my actual name were… really unappealing.

  56. MarkedMan says:

    @Mu Yixiao: I wasn’t trying to put words in your mouth. Here’s what you said:

    My impression of her has always been that she’s just as much a narcissist as Trump–just more shrewd about it.

    The only leap I made was assuming you agreed with the commenters above that Trump was dangerously narcissistic, to the point where he is a sociopathic narcissist. So now I’m curious. Do you think Trump is less narcissistic than that? Because it’s pretty apparent that concern for others has not been in his mind whatsoever as thousands around the world die, and that death lands on our shores. Or do you think that Clinton is equally uncaring about other people?

    Were you aware that Hillary Rodham, raised a middle class Republican in Chicago’s prosperous North Side, first got involved in politics campaigning for Barry Goldwater? And that at the age of 16 she was sent into the poor black neighborhoods (because, hey, you gotta do something with the kid) and that forever changed her outlook? Did you know that at the age of 24, Hillary Rodham went undercover in Alabama, risking her life (remember, Southerners killed civil rights workers, even white ones, to the cheers and accolades of the citizens) to investigate whether the federal policies were being enforced in racist Alabama? Did you know that you can still go down to New Orleans and locals will point out the tiny hotel she and Bill Clinton stayed in when they were working on Civil Rights issues down there. And for crying out loud, do you think she and Bill really sat down all those years ago and said to themselves, “What’s the easiest way to rise to state wide power in Arkansas? I know, let’s speak out for poor blacks!”

    Hillary Clinton is no Donald Trump, and whatever narcissism she has totals no more than most of us. And despite the constant smears that she is a phony and never did anything that wasn’t to her advantage, she actually has done more for others than 95% of us, including me.

  57. MarkedMan says:

    @Mu Yixiao: What part of China, and when? I was in Shanghai 2011-2015. Bao Jie Ming at your service.

  58. Teve says:

    @Mu Yixiao:

    I see her taking the “Get out of my way. I’ll handle this.” approach rather than listening to the experts.

    Before developing the healthcare plan they released in 1994, Hillary spent literally months dialoguing with hundreds of experts.

  59. mattbernius says:

    @Mu Yixiao:
    just wanted to say “thank you” — I was wondering about your handle as well. Thank you for sharing.

  60. Mu Yixiao says:


    I was in a couple “small” cities in Suzhou. 2011-2017

  61. mattbernius says:

    After less than 30 minutes of trading, the market drop triggered another circuit-breaker and all of the gains from Friday are apparently gone.

  62. mattbernius says:


    After less than 30 minutes of trading

    Opps, make that 3 minutes of trading…