“Vanity is the quicksand of reason” – George Sand
The face of vanity writ-large in the 21st century
Many might feel there are more than one thing that makes Trump Un-great, like his tiny fingers, his cocaine snorts during the debates or that he is now the Joe Biden of his own administration and Pence is the serious one (just kidding Joe. We love you). But the fact he can flag his arms like a penguin when disparaging reporters, possibly have pissed on a whore while in Russia and brag about grabbing women’s pussies and still get elected is to say that he has a strong base of support among those who seem to think that none of this detracts from one’s character.
There is one character flaw of Trump’s however that could be his undoing – his over-the-top vanity. People who can support a pussy grabber can believe that his vanity is not an obstruction to serving as POTUS, but that would be a short-sighted take on what the outcome of a high-speed train will be rounding a sharp curve.
As I read the details of how big the inaugural crowd was at Trump’s event, one thing became starkly clear. A minor detail in the role of President resulted in a major performance from key players in his new administration. At the heart of it is a president with an ego so huge that nothing, not even the size of his inaugural crowd, is ever too small a detail that can make his over-inflated image of himself seem insignificant. He literally “grew increasingly and visibly enraged” at the news reports that diminished his inaugural crowd over Obama’s in 2009 and demanded that “a fiery public response” be issued forthwith.
Reuters published a combination of the two pictures. (1902 GMT). The caption read: “A combination of photos taken at the National Mall shows the crowds attending the inauguration ceremonies to swear in U.S. President Donald Trump at 12:01 p.m. (L) on January 20, 2017 and President Barack Obama on January 20, 2009, in Washington, DC.” The caption did not state which crowd was larger.
The fact that defenders of his, like Press secretary Sean Spicer and personal confidant, Kellyanne Conway were willing to openly lie about this shows more, it seems, about how they anticipate Trump’s views concerning such minutiae than any sense of loyalty to him. To put themselves in a position to defend so-called “alternate facts”, as Ms. Conway so dismissively referred to them on NBC’s “Meet The Press” is to know the small-minded, self-inflated view of Trump himself.
And over the last few days the evidence of Trump’s obsession with himself has loomed large. Further details of Trump’s obsession with his inaugural crowd size shows Trump personally demanding National Park Service director Michael T. Reynolds “to produce additional photographs of the previous day’s crowds on the Mall.” Then in a later interview with ABC’s David Muir Trump touted that the only reason he didn’t win the popular vote was because millions of votes were illegal.
“You have people that are registered who are dead, who are illegals,” said Trump, who has called for an investigation. “You have people registered in two states. They’re registered in New York and New Jersey. They vote twice. There are millions of votes, in my opinion.”
Herein lies a core fact. It is Trump’s “opinion” that carries more weight than fact, not only with himself, but apparently with major members of his staff. Another clever verbal tool he uses to sustain his overly bloated view of self is to suggest that when his word is being challenged by the media then it’s an offense to all the people who voted for him.
An example of this was also in the Muir, ABC interview when Trump accused the media of falsely asserting a smaller crowd attended his inaugural than Obama’s.
“That was some crowd,” Trump said. ” When I looked at the numbers that happened to come in from all of the various sources, we had the biggest audience in the history of inaugural speeches. I said, the men and women that I was talking to who came out and voted will never be forgotten again. Therefore, I won’t allow you or other people like you to demean that crowd and to demean the people that came to Washington, D.C., from faraway places because they like me.”
This keeps his alt-right supporters stoked and ready to defend their fake news sites.
So in 2017 and beyond, as he tries to present himself as the people’s choice, he still exhibits the brat behavior of a privileged childhood towards anything that calls into question his sense of importance. For someone who has convinced many naive people how his wealth reflects a man with grand stature, he continues to allow niggling details that threaten a super-inflated image of himself to take front and center stage. In a life that now encompasses a scale far greater than when he was a little known power broker in the 1980’s Manhattan Real Estate market, such self-obsession can only detract from the needs of his new office.
Some may think this is more of a non-issue and to a certain degree they may be right. If Trump does accomplish many of the goals that improves the broken political system in this country his vanity will be seen less as a character weakness. But it will always reflect a core element of the man-boy and to that degree it can only subtract from that which might have made him truly great.
Feeling that he’s “loved” by millions of people and who agree with him on everything blinds him to what’s necessary to run an efficient and effective government. Trump’s prior experience as a bully in the commercial world had its advantages but such tactics in government will begin to isolate him and make him a mockery by all those he has to rely on to achieve great things.
“Whoever undertakes to set himself up as a judge of Truth and Knowledge is shipwrecked by the laughter of the gods.” – Edmund Burke