On Why Character Matters
The predictions game is especially chancy nowadays. Most people predicted that the Brexit vote would fail and that Donald J Trump would not be elected president.
Still, I’m going to make a prediction: The Trump presidency will implode and he will, at most, serve four years in office. And the source of Trump’s implosion will be rooted in his fundamentally flawed character.
Although the character of Trump has been much discussed, presidential character is the foundation of any presidency. More than any specific foreign or domestic policies Trump may champion, Trump’s deeply and widely flawed character will be the source of his downfall.
Donald Trump is a deeply incurious man. At a base level, he knows virtually nothing about foreign affairs and he is ignorant about most domestic policy matters. For example, with regard to Israel, he said, “So I’m looking at two-state and one-state, and I like the one that both parties like. I’m very happy with the one that both parties like. I can live with either one.” He has no position on the issue and he almost certainly has no understanding of the many and nuanced pluses and minuses of either solution. Ignorance is a handicap that many presidents have coming into office, at least in some areas. But Trump’s lack of intellectual curiosity makes it impossible for him to obtain the basic knowledge about foreign and domestic matters that are needed for him to make even modestly informed decisions. He doesn’t read books – and he probably reads little else of substance. He shows little interest in policy briefings. He’s simply uninterested in learning. So, he is ignorant and his utter lack of intellectual curiosity will leave him in ignorance.
Donald Trump is a towering narcissist. Despite his ignorance about a wide array of subjects, he is so narcissistic and arrogant that he said, for example, “I know more about ISIS than the generals do.” This complete lack of self-awareness about his shortfalls (and we all have shortfalls) is rooted in his narcissism. He cannot tolerate appearing ignorant.
Donald Trump is a serial liar. He lies about the size of his inauguration crowds; he lies about the size of his electoral college victory; he lies about refugees (“72% of refugees admitted to the U.S. during COURT BREAKDOWN are from seven countries” [meaning the seven countries he wanted to temporarily bar immigration from]), he lied about the US murder rate (“The murder rate in our country is the highest it’s been in 47 years” – when, in fact, it’s about as low as it’s been in 47 years); he lies about terrorism (terror attacks in the US have “gotten to the point where it’s not even being reported”); and he makes promises that are so outrageous that they can only be properly called lies (such as his promise to bring back “millions” of well-paying manufacturing jobs or that he’s going to provide “insurance for everybody” that will be “much less expensive and much better” – how the hell is that even possible?!).
Donald Trump is a mean-spirited man and this will be his ultimate undoing. Trump has few close friends whom he can really trust. He trusts his family (particularly his daughter Ivanka and his son-in-law Jared Kushner – but they have zero political or policy experience). He hasn’t known the other people who are closest to him (Stephen Bannon, Reince Priebus, Sean Spicer, and Kellyanne Conway) for more than a few months. He has no close ties with people in Congress. He has made no effort to reach out to people who have different views than him. He just calls them names and insults them. He attacks, attacks, and attacks (which is largely due to being a narcissist with thin skin). As a result, he’s isolated himself on an island. So, when the going gets tough, and it will get tough, the political knives will come out and he will be all alone.
So, I predict that the Trump administration is going to collapse and it will be due to Trump’s deeply flawed character – not because of fake news or fake polls; not because of “socialist” opponents; not because the public “failed to support him” or didn’t “give him a chance;” and not, remarkably, because of his policies.