Using Trump’s personality against him

Love this post from Drum on Trump’s freakout on twitter about losing the popular vote so much.  Some good analysis of the crazy people he’s re-tweeting along the way, but here’s the summary:

What kind of person is so unhinged that even though he won a presidential election, he goes nuts when he’s reminded that he lost the popular vote and (a) demands that all his minions start writing sycophantic tweets about his historic landslide victory, (b) continues stewing about it anyway and fabricates an allegation of massive voter fraud perpetrated by the Democratic Party, (c) flips out at an anodyne segment from a CNN reporter about his lies, and (d) spends his evening hunched over his smartphone rounding up a motley crew of racists, nutbags, and teenagers to assure him that he’s right?

What kind of person does this? And how easy is it to manipulate someone like this? We have a helluva scary four years ahead of us.

Meanwhile, William Saletan has a piece entitled “How to Manipulate Donald Trump: He’s an emotional weakling, and his recent interviews give us models for dealing with it.”  I think his amazingly fragile ego is a real key here:

3. His ego is fragile. After winning the Republican nomination in May, Trump gloated about it for months. Now he’s gloating about the election. In tweets and interviews, he has crowed that he beat Clinton “easily.” On Tuesday, he ran another victory lap, trumpeting the addition of Michigan to his “landslide.” To understand how central this is to Trump’s sense of himself, check out the first 19 paragraphs of his interview with the Times. Invited by the publisher to give opening remarks, Trump spoke at length, not about the future but about his genius and prowess on the campaign trail. In his Nov. 11 interview with 60 Minutes, he bragged about the number of Twitter followers he had gained.

A president-elect who is self-assured doesn’t behave this way. Nor does he snap at a late-night sketch comedy show. Nor does he summon TV executives to complain that particular pictures they have aired are unflattering to him. Trump does these things because he’s deeply insecure and easily wounded.

4. He craves approval. Trump often comes across as indifferent to the feelings of others. That’s misleading. He cares intensely about being respected and loved. Consider his twisted relationship with the Times. For two weeks after the election, he tweeted that the paper was “nasty,” “failing,” and “looked like fools in their coverage of me.” Despite this, he requested a meeting and showed up at the paper’s offices to wag his tail. He promised Times staffers an immigration bill that “even the people in this room can be happy” with. He told them “it would be, to me, a great achievement if I could come back here in a year or two years … and have a lot of the folks here say, ‘You’ve done a great job.’ And I don’t mean just a conservative job, ’cause I’m not talking conservative. I mean just, we’ve done a good job.” Yes, Mr. President. Good boy.

Yep.  He really is staggeringly insecure.  Yes, that can be used him.  But these sure as hell aren’t traits you want in a president (among other things, Putin and others can also use this against him).  I’ve always loved the quote, “First-rate people hire first-rate people; second-rate people hire third-rate people.”  So true.  And safe to say– and evidence so far eminently backs this up– Trump is not getting the best people.

About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State

2 Responses to Using Trump’s personality against him

  1. Stefan says:

    In an interview with Ben Smith of BuzzFeed, Stanley Renshon made the point that there are two pillars of Trump’s character–a need to be liked and a need for validation.

  2. R. Jenrette says:

    We Democrats need to start building up our Presidential bench right away. I’m thinking we need a celebrity like Trump seems in some ways (making money). Two possibles are Mark Cuban of “Shark Tank” fame and George Clooney, of film fame.

    In this fast moving media world a candidate who is already well known with a positive image has a good start on name recognition. Democrats in Congress and state governments need to learn to grab the headlines and sound bites starting now.

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