Donald Trump's biggest fear

In ...

Posted: Dec 11, 2017 7:13 PM
Updated: Dec 11, 2017 7:13 PM

In this terrific New York Times piece on Donald Trump in the White House, one line stood out to me as absolutely critical to understanding how the 45th President of the United States approaches the job.

It's this one: "Before taking office, Mr. Trump told top aides to think of each presidential day as an episode in a television show in which he vanquishes rivals."

There's so much to unpack there.

Start with the fact that TV is the frame through which Trump sees not only his presidency but his broader life. If something or someone is on TV, it matters. If not, then not. The equation for Trump is that simple.

You see that focus-bordering-on-obsession manifested in all sorts of ways during Trump's first near-year in office.

* His habit of praising some member of Congress in a crowd for how he or she did on television. Example: I saw Congressman Gaetz on TV the other day. He did a great job. Really great.

* He is uniquely focused on how cable covers his events and pronouncements. This, from CNN's Dylan Byers, is hugely illuminating on that front: "In the wake of almost every event he holds, whether it be a rally, a bilateral press conference or a White House ceremony, Trump is presented with a packet of screen-shots showing how the television networks covered the event."

* He makes constant reference -- in virtually every speech -- to the number of cameras covering the event. One example: "Look at all those red lights," Trump said when he was in Alabama earlier this year to campaign for appointed Sen. Luther Strange. "Ay yai yai. It's always fun to see a red light."

Now, take a step back. It's not just that Trump judges success or failure via TV. It's deeper than that. It's that he views his entire presidency as one big reality TV show in which the goals are only: a) to be perceived as "winning" in the eyes of the audience and b) to keep people watching.

Go back and read that sentence from the Times' piece. "Before taking office, Mr. Trump told top aides to think of each presidential day as an episode in a television show in which he vanquishes rivals." (Italics are mine.)

The key for Trump is to win the day in the eyes of the people watching on TV. But, it's more than that. It's also to vanquish his political enemies. To be seen as the victor, the tough guy, the winner. It's like he sees the presidency as a daily singing competition where he always wants to win the people's vote.

What's important about Trump's view of the presidency is that winning a cable news cycle -- or a daily singing competition -- is, at best, a tactic. It's nothing close to a strategy.

Which jibes with the difficulty that arises any time someone tries to put a narrative arc on this presidency. There really isn't one. The secret plan is that there is no secret plan. Trump acts and reacts in real time with a very short-term goal: Win the moment.

Being talked about is enough. As long as he is a subject of the national conversation, Trump is relevant. (Witness Trump's insistence that Barack Obama wasn't born in the U.S.)

And, in Trump's world, being relevant is the only thing that matters. Death for him is not mattering.

West Lafayette
Overcast
71° wxIcon
Hi: 86° Lo: 63°
Feels Like: 71°
Kokomo
Overcast
70° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 61°
Feels Like: 70°
Rensselaer
Overcast
70° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 60°
Feels Like: 70°
Fowler
Overcast
70° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 62°
Feels Like: 70°
Williamsport
Overcast
70° wxIcon
Hi: 84° Lo: 62°
Feels Like: 70°
Crawfordsville
Overcast
67° wxIcon
Hi: 84° Lo: 64°
Feels Like: 67°
Frankfort
Overcast
72° wxIcon
Hi: 84° Lo: 63°
Feels Like: 72°
Delphi
Overcast
72° wxIcon
Hi: 84° Lo: 62°
Feels Like: 72°
Monticello
Overcast
72° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 61°
Feels Like: 72°
Logansport
Overcast
73° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 60°
Feels Like: 73°
Storms & another heat wave is ahead!
WLFI Radar
WLFI Temps
WLFI Planner

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 53370

Reported Deaths: 2785
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion12276699
Lake5831252
Elkhart379462
Allen3013136
St. Joseph229470
Hamilton1800101
Cass16559
Hendricks1496102
Johnson1379118
Vanderburgh9056
Porter87338
Tippecanoe80210
Clark73644
Madison69364
LaPorte64828
Howard62158
Bartholomew61245
Marshall60112
Kosciusko5984
Noble53028
Boone50144
LaGrange49110
Delaware48752
Jackson4853
Hancock47636
Shelby46425
Floyd43544
Monroe38528
Dubois3657
Grant34726
Morgan34731
Henry30718
Montgomery29920
Clinton2953
Dearborn28924
Warrick28529
White28310
Vigo2658
Decatur25732
Lawrence25425
Harrison22122
Greene20033
Miami2002
Jennings18112
Putnam1798
DeKalb1714
Scott1679
Wayne1676
Perry16411
Daviess15517
Jasper1422
Steuben1413
Orange14023
Gibson1382
Ripley1377
Franklin1328
Wabash1233
Starke1183
Carroll1152
Whitley1116
Fayette1097
Newton10110
Jefferson982
Huntington942
Wells851
Fulton811
Randolph814
Knox770
Posey750
Jay720
Washington701
Clay675
Pulaski661
Rush653
Spencer641
Sullivan581
Owen541
Adams521
Benton510
Brown461
Blackford412
Fountain382
Crawford350
Tipton351
Switzerland310
Martin280
Parke280
Ohio230
Vermillion200
Union170
Pike160
Warren161
Unassigned0193

COVID-19 Important links and resources

As the spread of COVID-19, or as it's more commonly known as the coronavirus continues, this page will serve as your one-stop for the resources you need to stay informed and to keep you and your family safe. CLICK HERE

Closings related to the prevention of the COVID-19 can be found on our Closings page.

Community Events