No end to the Trump need­i­ness

The Dominion Post - - Opinion - JENNI RUS­SELL

One of the most tire­some ex­pe­ri­ences of par­ent­ing is the stage, at three or four, when your child doesn’t want to do any­thing with­out be­ing watched and praised.

‘‘Look at me!’’ they call as they dig a hole in the sand­pit or pause at the top of a slide. Du­ti­fully you stop read­ing or talk­ing in or­der to re­as­sure them. You know they’ll grow out of this need to be seen and val­i­dated.

Un­less you’re Don­ald Trump who, it’s be­com­ing ap­par­ent, is 70 go­ing on three. Bri­tain, for in­stance, hopes to tempt him with a state visit, but that in it­self is not enough for him. Trump re­port­edly wants a grander visit than any of his pre­de­ces­sors. Ac­cord­ing to aides, he wants lunch at Churchill’s birth­place, the mag­nif­i­cent Blen­heim Palace, where the gilt and or­na­men­ta­tion pre­date Trump Tower by two cen­turies.

He wants a pri­vate tour of the Churchill War Rooms, with the for­eign sec­re­tary as his def­er­en­tial guide. Most au­da­ciously he wants the Queen to ask him not to Wind­sor or Buck­ing­ham Palace but to Bal­moral, which has al­ways been a pri­vate re­treat. To show that he can push the boundaries even fur­ther, he’s said to want to play a round of golf on its pri­vate course while the Queen, who is no golfer, is made to watch.

It’s the ul­ti­mate ex­pres­sion of in­fan­tile hunger to be the cen­tre of at­ten­tion; re­quir­ing the world’s best­known monarch to en­dure be­ing bored while you show off.

This is not an en­dear­ing hu­man foible from the leader of the free world. It’s a deep char­ac­ter flaw. Be­com­ing the most pow­er­ful per­son on the planet hasn’t calmed Don­ald Trump’s in­se­cu­ri­ties. This is a man so thin-skinned that he can­not bear any crit­i­cism. It’s led him this week to tell rank false­hoods to the CIA, ban parks staff from tweet­ing, and gov­ern­ment sci­en­tists from talk­ing to the press. In threat­en­ing the val­ues of open­ness and fair­ness that Amer­ica stands for, he’s act­ing on the ad­vice his fa­ther gave him as a teenager, quoted in the book Trump Re­vealed, that he was a ‘‘king’’ who needed to be­come a ‘‘killer’’.

Trump seems to have ex­pected that when he won the pres­i­dency he would re­ceive the same adu­la­tion he got at his cam­paign ral­lies, or on the set of The Ap­pren­tice, or within his com­pa­nies, where he has al­ways been an au­thor­i­tar­ian boss. It’s a fine irony that the man who spent years chal­leng­ing the le­git­i­macy of the for­mer pres­i­dent and jeer­ing at him has now dis­cov­ered that the job in­volves re­spond­ing to a con­stant stream of crit­i­cism.

In the weeks be­fore the in­au­gu­ra­tion his aide, Kellyanne Con­way, com­plained that Trump was not get­ting the re­spect he de­served from the me­dia. This week Sean Spicer, the White House press sec­re­tary, said that the pres­i­dent’s feel­ings were hurt. He was, we were told, ‘‘de­mor­alised that the pub­lic’s per­cep­tion of his pres­i­dency so far does not nec­es­sar­ily align with his own sense of ac­com­plish­ment’’. This is in­cred­i­ble. The pres­i­dent is so needy that his pri­or­ity ap­pears not to be do­ing what he can to make Amer­ica feel hap­pier, but what Amer­ica should be do­ing to make him feel hap­pier about him­self.

— The Times

US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump has been in­fu­ri­ated by cov­er­age of rel­a­tively small crowds at his in­au­gu­ra­tion cer­e­mony.

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