April 12, 2024

Narcissism combined with paranoia is explosive

Today’s Events in Historical Perspective
America’s Longest-Running Column Founded 1932
Narcissism combined with paranoia is explosive
By Douglas Cohn and Eleanor Clift
          WASHINGTON – The President is a known narcist, but is there more, some combining trait that is creating a volatile mixture?
           He was only on the White House payroll for 11 days, but financier Anthony Scaramucci knows Donald Trump. They moved in the same moneyed circles in New York for years, where “the mooch” was a trusted confidante, though not anymore.
         After defending Trump for the past two years, Scaramucci has turned on the president, calling him unfit for the office he holds. He cites Trump’s erratic behavior and his “declining mental facilities.” He says he doesn’t listen to anybody and that he’s “worse than a racist” because he’s “so narcissistic.”
         Scaramucci isn’t telling us anything we didn’t already know, but when presented by a former insider, it’s best to take heed.
         Trump is acting increasingly bizarre, declaring himself “the chosen one” to deal with China, musing about buying Greenland (without offering a plausible reason), and floating various cockamamie ideas to pump up the economy. He’s even fighting with Fox News after the network’s polling last week showed Trump losing in 2020 by 10 points to Democrat Joe Biden (49% to 39%).
         Trump regards any news not favorable to him as “fake” or biased. It makes one wonder if the intelligence community tells him the truth about what’s happening in the world, particularly in North Korea where Trump’s policy to de-nuclearize the country is not working.
         As the 2020 election draws closer, and Trump’s reelection is not assured, our institutions and our leaders must be mindful about what he might do to improve his standing with the voters. He is already looking for scapegoats, regularly lashing out against the Federal Reserve and its chairman, Jerome Powell, for not taking more aggressive preemptive actions against a possible recession.
         This is a president who likely will do whatever it takes to win reelection.  Acting on the economy will be difficult since he would need Congress to pass even a temporary reduction in payroll taxes (which he suggested before denying a day later), for example, and a Democratic House is not inclined to go along with a rescue mission designed to save Trump.
         Foreign affairs are where a president has more latitude to act unilaterally, and Trump’s recent musings about inviting Russian President Putin back into the G-7 falls into this category. Trump says Putin got kicked out because “he outsmarted Obama.”
         More to the point, Putin got kicked out by the other global leaders because he violated international law by annexing Crimea and starting a phony war in Ukraine.
         When President Nixon grew increasingly erratic during his final months in office, military leaders quietly instructed those in the chain of command not to take orders directly from the president. So far, two and a half years into this presidency, Trump has not started any new wars and seems determined to get out of Afghanistan.
         Even so, he has at his disposal a fearsome military force, and he has a limited understanding of the intricacies of global warfare in all its forms from economic to cyber to conventional warfare.
         The dynamics of this presidency are only going to intensify as the verdict of the voters grows closer. No one disputes that Trump is a world-class narcissist, everything comes back to him and how it affects him.
         He is the rare president who didn’t gain in the polls after visiting gunshot victims in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio. He struck the wrong notes when he focused on the size of his crowds and gave a thumbs-up as he posed with an orphaned baby whose parents were gunned down.
         Lack of empathy is part of narcissism, and now as Trump sees enemies even on Fox News, paranoia becomes part of the picture as Trump proclaims himself “the chosen one” to wage a trade war with China. And narcissistic-paranoid combination has moved the needle from disruption to dangerous.
         Douglas Cohn’s latest books are World War 4: Nine Scenarios (endorsed by seven flag officers) and The President’s First Year: The Only School for Presidents Is the Presidency.
          Twitter:  @douglas_cohn
          © 2019 U.S. News Syndicate, Inc.
          Distributed by U.S. News Syndicate, Inc.

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