I confess that until recently I did not believe covering the Donald Trump administration and my physical proximity to the president during the last 18 months had given me any great insight. Most days are spent reacting to a variety of stimuli and scandals that give one little time for deep analytic thought beyond retching. […]
I confess that until recently I did not believe covering the Donald Trump administration and my physical proximity to the president during the last 18 months had given me any great insight.
Most days are spent reacting to a variety of stimuli and scandals that give one little time for deep analytic thought beyond retching.
But CNN’s Chris Cuomo, Thursday night on his show, in a segment called “Closing Argument” crystalized my thoughts regarding our president.
Using a Trump Tweet (I call these choice little Trump brain droppings “Twitter Litter”) Cuomo declared the president hates this country.
The tweet was frightening, anti-American, anti-free press, and alarming. In part it said, “The Summit with Russia was a great success, except with the real enemy of the people, the Fake News Media.”
I replied to the president’s twitter litter, “Let no one mistake what this man is saying: He believes a man who murders journalists, who criminally invaded another country, who poisons his enemies is NOT the enemy of the people – but those who point out these crimes are. @realDonaldTrump who is the real enemy of the people?”
Like Cuomo, I found Trump’s tweet undermining and demeaning – particularly after I recently lost friends and colleagues in Annapolis when a crazed gunman entered the Capital Gazette and killed five people with a shotgun.
That loss still stings and the president’s inability to summon even a modicum of respect for the dead is unnerving.
“This is ugly and it is unoriginal. But most importantly it is an admission that you hate your country,” Cuomo said before citing several historic references that show attacking a free press is a bullying tactic used by demagogues, despots and dictators. All of this is true. I found Cuomo’s argument lawyerly, logical and air tight – if you accept the premise.
But making the logical leap to Trump hating his own country?
I don’t think so.
In fact, I believe Donald Trump believes that he loves his country. Certainly those who support him believe this and telling them point blank their favorite president hates America will not make any headway with them. It will only add to the divisive nature of our country and keep us from meeting somewhere in the middle to hash out our differences.
Cuomo, a man I respect and call a friend, once recounted the old morality tale of unknown origin attributed to the Cherokees and succinctly described in the movie “Tomorrowland”:
Casey Newton: “There are two wolves” … You told me this story my entire life, and now I’m telling you: There are two wolves and they are always fighting. One is darkness and despair, the other is light and hope. Which wolf wins?
Eddie Newton: C’mon, Casey.
Casey Newton: Okay, fine, don’t answer.
Eddie Newton: Whichever one you feed.
In the case of Trump and his anti-media sentiments, it is awfully tempting to call the tweet “boring” as some have or evidence of hatred against our country as Cuomo has. I confess upon first seeing this particular bit of Twitter Litter, I too was angry, but after watching Cuomo, I was forced to re-evaluate this opinion for I believe it is feeding the wrong wolf.
Again I say, I do not think Trump hates our country.
Far from it. He was raised here, revels in his notoriety and public profile and firmly believes he is the embodiment of what’s great about this country.
But after observing him for the last 18 months from the unique vantage point of being a member of the White House press corps, I believe he’s ignorant, scared and narcissistic.
Coming from the world of commercial real estate – a world well known for the need of the gift of blarney, combined with being born with a silver foot in his mouth (Apologies to the late Ann Richards), Trump has never understood nor faced the consequences of his actions.
He’s always been able to buy his way out of any trouble he’s run into, usually by hiring lawyers to assist in the cleanup.
He cannot do that as president and he displays his ignorance and inability to change by continuing to try and do so.
As a “counter puncher” – or “fighter” to use Sarah Huckabee Sanders description, Trump is always in need of an enemy to provide a counter to whatever narrative he wishes to spin.
The media are a natural group of enemies. Amorphous and generally considered ubiquitous, we provide a foil to his foibles, faults and mistakes.
It is a classic case of “shooting the messenger.”
He’s been doing it for years and he does it with the instinct of a cornered, rabies infested muskrat.
In truth, Trump does not know what America is for he’s never had to live in it. Sheltered, pampered, rich and with a great gift of spinning a tale, America to him is something to sell – no more and no less.
The shining citadel on the hill is only valuable to Donald Trump if he can sell it, brand it and post a “Trump Tower” sign on it.
It’s not that he hates America, it is that he’s ignorant of America.
He has no great plans for America because he understands very little outside of instant gratification. He has no long term plans because he is ignorant of how to execute them. It is part of the reason why his communication staff stumbles so badly on a daily basis to craft a message.
No one knows what he’s going to say or how to defend what he says.
Val Kilmer as Doc Holliday in “Tombstone” describes his enemy Johnny Ringo this way:
Doc Holliday: A man like Ringo has got a great big hole, right in the middle of him. He can never kill enough, or steal enough, or inflict enough pain to ever fill it.
Wyatt Earp: What does he need?
Doc Holliday: Revenge.
Wyatt Earp: For what?
Doc Holliday: Bein’ born.
Our president is insecure and constantly craves attention. I have openly wondered what his father did to him as a child that turned him into the man he seems to be.
Trump gravitates toward people like Russian President Vladmir Putin and North Korean Leader Kim Jong-un because he sees them as strong, firm examples of men who bend others to their will. He loves that. He needs that.
For the truth is Donald Trump is filled with self-loathing. I believe he wakes up each morning frightened people will find out he’s the fraud he knows himself to be and nothing scares him more.
Donald Trump doesn’t hate America.
Donald Trump hates himself – and he’s in a position to make the rest of us pay for it.
So again, I ask – Who is the real enemy of the people?