The old proverb states, “People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.” This saying typically means that one should not criticize others for faults that he or she also possesses. However, with regard to President Trump, there are alternative ways at looking at this adage. In his first five weeks in the Oval Office (or at Mar-a-Lago), Trump has repeatedly attacked the media, the intelligence community, and nearly all of his critics as purveyors of “fake news” and the spreaders of lies.
Psychologically speaking and at its simplest level, a mental health professional might say that Trump is projecting his own faults onto others and is doing so with increased frequency. For example, this morning the President tweeted his criticism of leakers and how they could be devastating to the U.S.
You need only change one word in that sentence for it to read that the leaks would be devastating to Donald Trump and his brief term in office.
This afternoon, Trump took the unprecedented step of barring CNN, the New York Times, the LA Times, Buzzfeed, the BBC, the Guardian, and Politico from a White House press briefing. This move escalated an increasingly intense feud between Trump and the free press while also raising concerns about First Amendment violations.
As I pointed out in a column last month, this radical step by Trump likely reflects two parallel forces at play here. First, Trump’s limitation of the media outlets that were represented today is a transparent play to control the amount of criticism to which he is exposed; an action that protects his vulnerable ego and is consistent with his malignant narcissism.
It is no secret that the outlets that were barred have also been heavily covering Trump’s potentially treasonous ties to Russia. It is also of little surprise that the exclusion of certain media groups today is straight out of the fascist playbook when it comes to rising to an authoritarian position and staying there.
Yet, remember what we know about our 45th President. Those with whom he has worked closely report that he has a short attention span, he does not read, he has an insatiable diet for cable news, and he is overly concerned with how he “performs” at public events. He also shows two-dimensional thinking and has a limited use of the English language and the vast possibilities afforded by an expanded vocabulary.
Updated 2/25/17 11:30 pm: President Trump has decided not to attend the White House Correspondent’s Dinner becoming the first since Ronald Reagan (who missed the event after being shot in the chest) not to attend. This decision also appears to be the result of separate lines of thinking. One, it neutralizes the potential criticism toward and vulnerability of the hyper-sensitive President in the form of the ribbing that often accompanies this dinner. Second, it reinforces the use of the fascist playbook in its dismissal of the popular media. Lastly, the increasing scrutiny of the President’s ties to Russia would most certainly be a topic of conversation or satire during the event.
In other words, he does not have the capacity or desire to “do the heavy lifting” when it comes to being an authoritarian leader… he just wants the adulation. His senior advisers, spokespeople, Cabinet, and permissive Congress are there to plan, execute, and maintain the strategies that will keep King Donald atop his throne while the Court pursues its own individual agendas (e.g., Steve Bannon’s deconstruction of Washington, Stephen Miller’s nationalist state, Betsy DeVos and her interpretation of God’s plan for schools).
The man is solely concerned with being the best and the biggest even when shown conflicting evidence. I am proud to see the marches, town hall meetings, and the activist groups that are opposing the President’s narcissistic, inexperienced, immature, delusional, and dangerous behaviors. I believe it is becoming increasingly effective and that his projections (or throwing stones from his own glass house) will be his undoing politically.