A pilgrimage to the Sunshine State of Florida is one that is undertaken by millions of Americans each year to escape the daily realities of their everyday lives and to perhaps spend a week in a fantasy world.
President Trump traveled to Florida for the third straight weekend in an attempt to continue his stay in the fantasy world within which he has spent his first month in office. This time he held a self-serving “campaign rally” designed to show his supporters and himself that he has not repeatedly failed and that his historically low approval ratings are “fake news.”
For well over a year now, myself and many other columnists have documented the narcissistic and, frankly, bizarre behavior of Donald Trump the candidate and now the 45th President. In fact, there has been widespread debate within the mental health community regarding Trump, however, that debate has not been a dispute about whether or not he shows “world-class” narcissism but if he meets the criteria for a clinical diagnosis of a personality disorder.
The need for a clinical diagnosis is often an administrative matter (e.g., for billing, insurance claims, etc.) and whether or not Trump has been labeled “mentally ill” does not change the glaring fact that his extreme narcissism undermines his ability to discharge the duties of the Presidency, places him at an unprecedented level of ethical and financial conflict, and represents a danger to the United States, our Constitution, and the American people.
President Trump’s rationale behind Saturday’s rally in Melbourne was to have a chance to be “among my friends and among the people.” He went on to say that he sought to “speak to [the crowd] without the filter of the fake news.”
In other words, Mr. Trump wanted to soothe his vulnerable ego and feed his insatiable need for adulation - without being held accountable for his words or opening himself up to criticism. Ever the malignant narcissist, the President wanted greater control over what he could say and to whom he could say it; a luxury that he has not been afforded in the east wing of the White House with the press on hand.
At the rally, Trump described his ascension to the Oval Office as a “movement that has never been seen before” – a statement with which many historians might disagree. He then proceeded to dance along the web of lies that has covered his brief tenure as Commander-in-Chief: the transition has “gone smoothly” and with “incredible progress,” illegal immigrants continue to execute terrorist attacks across Europe (including Sweden?!), the media has concocted false stories about him and the internal workings of the White House, and that his support has been “massive.”
Note: Only about 9,000 people attended the Melbourne rally compared to the 17,000 anti-Trump marchers in West Palm Beach and Miami alone on the Saturday after Inauguration Day.
Of course, there was no mention of the ongoing questions surrounding Russian election interference nor his ties to Russia, the rapid departure of National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, or his continued violation of the Emoluments Clause to the U.S. Constitution.
What was included were transparent nods to (1) his evangelical Christian base with the First Lady reciting the Lord’s prayer (let’s just set aside the many Biblical verses that speak of giving aid to refugees and the less fortunate…ahem…’Muslim Ban’) and (2) his African American supporters with a highly visible group of Blacks for Trump seated right behind the podium. (Click on the previous link to learn more about the history of this group of which Mr. Trump may or may not be aware).
Make no mistake, calling this event a campaign rally as opposed to a Presidential address was intentional and served to take advantage of the looser restrictions placed on a campaign event. Air Force One was used as a prop during Trump’s dramatic entrance…24 hours after the White House said it would not be used in such a way.
In addition, Team Trump called this the President’s third straight “working” weekend at Mar-a-Lago (aka the Southern White House or the Winter White House) but this too is more fact-twisting to (poorly) skirt the significant ethical concerns raised by conducting White House business at a private, for-profit club owned by the President.
This President is determined to change facts to fit his worldview rather than changing his worldview to fit the facts. This behavior, no matter what it is called, does not belong anywhere near the White House any longer.