The Primping President
America has always been proud, but its presidents have usually been humble. What will change under a narcissistic commander in chief?
By Rachael Seamands IUPUI
While the slogan did not appear on the front of a red baseball hat during Reagan’s campaign, the wording itself suggested the same challenge.
Reagan, like Trump, used the phrase in order to appeal to Americans who felt that their country was due for an administration that would restore their faith in the political system. Similarly, many Americans rallied behind Trump’s resurrection of the phrase as he began his political campaign for presidency.
However, the real curiosity behind Trump’s repeated usage of the phrase lies not with the origins, but rather with the connotations surrounding the concept. Donald Trump lives, by every standard, as a personification of modern America. He is never satisfied with what he possesses or achieves, but rather continues to take whatever he can get his hands on.
He was born into a wealthy family, benefiting from his father’s real estate business in New York. Fred Trump’s is a story of rags to riches, while his son Donald’s path went from wealthy to wealthier. Prior to his presidential campaign, Donald Trump found himself involved in a sex scandal scattered across tabloids, resulting in the end of his first marriage to Ivana Trump and publicizing his affair with Marla Maples.
Almost a decade later, he became a reality television star as the host of “The Apprentice.” As if the resulting publicity wasn’t enough, the following year he opened Trump University, which was shut down after only five years due to lawsuits involving students and the attorney general of New York.
After announcing his intentions to run for president, Trump’s number of Twitter followers skyrocketed, and the average number of Trump retweets went from seventy-nine to over twenty-two thousand within a year.
Trump’s pride in his own image, and in those of the family members sharing his name, often seems to cause the president to act a certain way in the public eye. In February, Donald Trump announced that he did not plan on attending the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner in April due to his aggressive stance against the media. The president tweeted, “I will not be attending the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner this year. Please wish everyone well and have a great evening!”
Trump claimed as his reasoning that the media was the enemy of the people, and referred to their reporting as “fake news,” a phrase now as familiar as the MAGA slogan.
The skipping of the Correspondent’s Association dinner last occurred during the Reagan presidency. During that time, however, President Reagan was recovering from an assassination attempt. The White House Correspondent’s Association (WHCA) reacted to Trump’s Twitter RSVP-NO by releasing a statement of their own, letting readers know that while they noted the president’s choice not to attend, the dinner would go on as it always had in celebration of “the best political journalism of the past year.”
While the WHCA’s announcement appeared gracious and respectful of Trump’s wishes, you have to recognize the arrogance surrounding the president’s refusal to attend a function of such importance, a function that only one other president in history did not attend.
With these facts in mind, you have to wonder what exactly Trump means when he vows to make America great again. In other words, what would Trump consider to be a “great” America?
Trump’s personal life has been publicized since a relatively young age, and he did not always attempt to hide in the shadows. Furthermore, while the Trump name is linked to various successes in the business world, uglier stories can also be found with a google search. The latter searches turn up details of narcissism, lust, tax evasion and many other unpleasant topics. A controversial recording of Trump detailing what he could and would do to women was leaked during his campaign for president, sparking outrage among many American citizens and causing potential voters to rethink their image of him.
Trump is very open about his opinions on the appearances of people. Historically, his remarks about the attractiveness of the women with whom he surrounds himself have settled into the memories of the American public. When discussing Carly Fiorina, Trump reportedly said, “Look at that face. Would anybody vote for that? Can you imagine that, the face of our next president?”
The words were in reference to his personal opinion on Fiorina’s appearance, and they had very little to do with her political beliefs and ideologies. Trump also commented on Rosie O’Donnell’s figure: “We’re all a little chubby but Rosie’s just worse than most of us.”
Again, Trump missed the boat entirely on what a prospective presidential candidate should be discussing—the issues. The apparent fascination with the physique and overall look of the people surrounding him, opposition or not, speaks to Trump’s inability to look beyond the superficial.
So what does it mean for the country to have a president with such self-centered and vain core values? In school, you always learned that bullies behaved in the ways they did because they were secretly insecure and needed to take out their fears on those weaker then they were. Donald Trump is one such bully, and he harbors a fear foreboding enough to explain why he behaves in the way that he does.
Purposefully and loudly skipping White House dinners, insulting opposing political activists and keeping his tweets unfiltered have become the various curtains behind which his darkest fears lurk; his presidential status is not legitimate.
Trump still feels the need to defend himself as president and lash out at the miscreants rejecting his office, because he does not feel as secure in the position as he claims to. From interjecting during press conferences with the phrase “fake news” whenever he doesn’t like the question, to continuing to target Barack Obama and make unfounded accusations about the former president involving wiretapping, Trump cannot seem to move past his own ego. The insecurity fueling Trump’s bullying is the product of the vain and superficial lifestyle that Trump has led thus far, contrasting greatly against the new way in which he is expected to behave as the political figurehead of America.
Having a vain president is dangerous, and having an insecure one means the citizens of America are in for further justifications from the horse’s mouth detailing exactly why it is that he deserves to be there. Thus far, the promise to return America to its so-called former greatness has proven to be an empty one, and Americans should not expect to see it come true anytime soon.
First, like an uneasy child going back to school after a play ground fight, Donald Trump must find his own inner stability and justifiable purpose as to why he finds himself in the president’s chair, and realize exactly what he has to bring to the table to make America great again. And America, it would be best not to hold your breath.