The crowning spasm of narcissism

Jack Holmes on Trump’s galactic narcissism:

It’s not just that the president knows nothing about anything and cares less. This was an astounding showcase for his malignant narcissism, his inability to process anything except as it directly relates to him. The whole world of observable reality is filtered through how it affects him, and him only. You and everyone you know and love are not relevant. The task of thinking about himself is all-consuming. When Swan pressed him on his decision to hold an indoor rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in June—the culmination of a prolonged spasm of happy talk on the pandemic—he went immediately to how big the crowd was, and how Fox News got its best ratings ever for his speech.

“I’m asking about the public health,” Swan said.

And Trump is answering about Trump.

That’s always the case.

But by all indications, the president may not be capable of caring about these people’s lives. It is not within him. It takes a particular kind of damaged psyche to turn a question about the public-health risks of holding a stadium rally in a pandemic into a diatribe about how great the ratings were. This person is not well. It goes far beyond the fact that he doesn’t know anything, a bare fact that rose again in an exchange on testing. (Trump suggested many people are saying you can test too much. Swan wisely asked who says that. “Read the manuals, read the books,” the American president said.) It goes beyond his preposterous claims he’s done more for African-Americans than anybody, “with the possible exception of Abraham Lincoln.” It was a generous caveat in an exchange where Swan ultimately led the president to demonstrate he has no idea what the Civil Rights Act is.

Which is interesting because he ignored it (and the Fair Housing Act) when he refused to rent to black people.

But the crowning spasm of narcissism came at the end, when Swan asked about the passing of John Lewis, civil-rights icon and genuine hero of the American experiment, who at the time of the interview was lying in state at the United States Capitol. “How do you think history will remember John Lewis?” Swan asked, offering up a softball for any reasonably well-adjusted politician to knock out of the park. Here was the American president’s answer:

TRUMP: I don’t know. I really don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know John Lewis. He chose not to come to my inauguration. He chose—I never met John Lewis, actually, I don’t believe.

SWAN: Do you find him impressive?

TRUMP: Uh, I can’t say one way or another. I find a lot of people impressive, I find a lot of people not impressive…He didn’t come to my inauguration, he didn’t come to my State of the Union speeches, and that’s OK, that’s his right. And again, nobody has done more for Black Americans than I have. He should have come. I think he made a big mistake—

In fairness, the president did offer he has “no objection” to renaming the Edmund Pettus Bridge after Lewis. But this is an astounding demonstration of his inability to consider anything except as it relates to him. John Lewis, towering figure of American history who fought for his entire life to make this a full democracy that lived up to its founding values, is reduced to his Trump Event Attendance Record. After prodding, Trump grants that Lewis may have done things in the world that did not directly involve Trump, though he of course cannot name a single one. Why would he know about that? It’s got nothing to do with him.

Pinned like a butterfly.

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