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A hero for our time



Who else does this describe?

“I have always gotten much more publicity than anyone else,” Trump boasts, which, as his exaggerations go, is probably one of the more accurate. This ability seems rooted in a seemingly inexhaustible need for attention. D’Antonio reports that “Trump begins each day with a sheaf of papers detailing where and how often his name has been mentioned in the global press. . . . This need to be noticed, and his drive to satisfy it, has made him a singular figure worthy of close inspection.”

It also makes him pretty much a classic case of narcissism, and D’Antonio cites several textbooks in which Trump serves as an example, including “Abnormal Behavior in the 21st Century” and “Personality Disorder and Older Adults.”

Narcissists typically enjoy conflict and will readily lie or exaggerate to gain the upper hand. Trump’s life can pretty much be summed up as an unending stream of conflicts, some real, many manufactured, all good copy. Trump tells D’Antonio: “I always loved to fight, all types of fights . . .

In the age of social media, where everyone is the star of his own Facebook page, “we no longer agree that intense self-­regard is a sign that something is wrong,” D’Antonio concludes. On the contrary, it’s a virtue.


Trump is trying to troll his way to the presidency. That this outcome is still considered impossible represents a failure to fully appreciate the spirit of the age.

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  • postmodulator

    Narcissism is a pretty impressive disorder, if one can literally be a textbook example of narcissism and still not examine one’s actions.

    • Thirtyish

      Someone as acute and as catastrophically immature (stunted) as Trump has close to zero self-awareness and understanding.

      • ChrisTS

        Doesn’t he claim that self-reflection is dangerous?

  • Thirtyish

    I’m concinced that Trump exhibits a much darker personality style known as anti-social personality disorder. He’s narcissistic, yes, but he kicks it up a notch into sociopathic territory. That he’s been as popular as presidential candidate for as long as he has says something about the American electorate that a whole lot of “sensible” people keep trying to explain away or deny.

  • Unemployed_Northeastern

    A narcissistic internet troll? Surely you have no experience with such types in your own professional life, Professor Campos??

    • Paul Campos

      Heh, indeed.

    • ChrisTS

      I’m thinking, “Br…Bria…hmm, something like that.”

      • Lee Rudolph

        The crystal ball is cloudy, but it seems to be trying to form some words in … is it Spanish, perhaps?

        • Unemployed_Northeastern

          I believe the words might be in Hsinaps.

        • ChrisTS

          Yes, yes; I see now…

  • You think it’s bad now, wait until he decides to appeal to younger voters by choosing Miley Cyrus as his running mate.

    The less we speak of Trump’s 2018 divorce and the subsequent prez/veep nuptials, the better.

    • Malaclypse

      She’ll be too old by then.

      • That sounds suspiciously unpatriotic to me. And you can never be too not unpatriotic.

    • tsam

      Sad thing is that she’s every bit as qualified to be presnit as Trump. Republican credibility–how the fuck does it work?

      • postmodulator

        Well, she’s under 35, and federal employees are required to pass a drug test.

        • Ahuitzotl

          I’m pretty sure she’ll pass the drug test, being in the entertainment business. Come to think of it, does this mean federal employees get issued more drugs to make sure they pass the test?

  • Angry Warthog Breath

    I wouldn’t mind Narcissus nearly so much, horrible though he is, if it weren’t that so many people in the US (and, indeed, the world) are super-psyched about the chance to be Echo.

  • It also makes him pretty much a classic case of narcissism, and D’Antonio cites several textbooks in which Trump serves as an example, including “Abnormal Behavior in the 21st Century” and “Personality Disorder and Older Adults.”

    I question the validity of a textbook that uses celebrities instead of case studies of actual patients. But if mentioned a textbook = proof of diagnosis-at-a-distance, then Barack Obama really is a psychosocionarcissistic monster who wants to sell us to Muslims.

    In the age of social media, where everyone is the star of his own Facebook page, “we no longer agree that intense self-­regard is a sign that something is wrong,

    Oh, snap. I thought this dude was serious. You win this time, Campos!

  • tsam

    Comparing Trump to Biden, in Biden’s interview with the almighty Colbert shows a drastic difference. More than dime’s worth. It’s at least a dollar.

    I may be falling for bullshit, but Biden’s honesty gives me a bit of hope.

    • ajp

      I dunno, I’m as cynical as they come. But the gaffes, the emotional honesty (the speeches he’s given about grief, just beautiful). He’s either the world’s greatest actor (even for a politician) or genuine.

      I may not be rooting for him to become the Democratic nominee (although we could do a lot worse) but he seems like a legitimately decent human being.

      Personally I don’t care about Hillary seeming relatable or personable, but apparently a lot of voters do, and Biden is a pretty sharp contrast to the narrative about her being standoffish. And Trump’s assholeness.

      • ASV

        I’m perfectly ready for Biden to skip directly to the Carteresque post-presidency.

        • Lamont Cranston

          OT, but I can’t wait for Obama’s post-presidency.

          I think he is the best president we’ve had at least since FDR, and I would say probably top five all time.

          But as an ex-president, not having to deal with the kindergarten-esque Republican party, I think he will be incredible. He still seems to have a ton of energy, and his intelligence and people skills are perfect for the things ex-presidents do. He will rival Carter, I expect.

          • LeeEsq

            Second best since FDR, I’d say. Even with the shit storm that was the Vietnam War, LBJ still is a better President than Obama. If Obama had a friendlier Congress for longer, Obama would be better though.

            • jim, some guy in iowa

              I dunno- Vietnam was a big unforced error on LBJ’s part and Obama hasn’t made that kind of mistake yet- don’t imagine that he will either. I think if the different circumstances were weighed the case that O should be ranked ahead of LBJ is defensible

              • Pseudonym

                Obama could’ve gotten us single-payer healthcare and a baby unicorn but He. Didn’t. Even. Try.

                • Ahuitzotl

                  Havent you received your baby unicorn in the mail yet? You should definitely write to your congressman and Senator McConnell, chair of the Unicorn Distribution Committee, to complain.

              • Lamont Cranston

                A big part of my Obama love is that he dealt so well with incredible adversity. I can’t imagine that LBJ would have accomplished so much without the post-JFK zeitgeist or with the crazy Republicans we have now.

                • Mellano

                  But “the post-JFK zeitgeist” = incredible adversity. LBJ took a chaotic, wide-open moment in American politics and spun it into what seems like an inevitable progressive and personal triumph. He could just as easily have been run out of office as a diminished interim caretaker. That reflected his talents.

                  I think Obama comes out better at this point — more stable, more likely to hand off to someone who can build on this administration’s work, knock on wood — but sticking different politicians in different moments is a lot more confusing than illuminating.

  • guthrie

    The thing is, I know there are lots of mad republican voters, but I get the impression from the other side of the Atlantic, that the media in all its forms now forms a sealed bubble wherein such a narcissistic person as Trump can be important and real. Meanwhile the majority of voters think he is a dangerou clown, and know that the media are a bunch of noise seeking lunatics beholden to no-one, yet have no way to actually make the media stop being like that. Here in the UK, plenty of people know the tabloids are mad and bad, but keep buying them for the sports coverage.

    • keta

      Yes, yes, yes. It’s almost like the US media and Trump were made for each other.

      • Lee Rudolph

        A sterling example of co-evolution!

        • guthrie

          Divine creation surely? No natural process could produce such a perfect match?

          All Hail Sithrak!

          • On top of everything else, Sithrak is messing with our heads! His hate for us knows no bounds!

          • Hogan

            It’s like Kirk Cameron and the banana–this simply could not be an accident.

    • efgoldman

      Here in the UK, plenty of people know the tabloids are mad and bad, but keep buying them for the sports coverage.

      And the cleavage.

      • catclub

        with its lack of coverage.

  • keta

    I think Trump is more representative of where the GOP has been aiming than our social media beat-off malaise.

    The Republicans have given substance short shrift for a long time now, and have galvanized their appeal around anger and fear. Trump came out of the gate exploiting this and gained instant traction with the faction that cares not a whit about gravitas. Or truth. Or reality.

    Trump is the apotheosis of a political party that has lost its mind, its soul and its value to furthering Americans and their interests. He’s a perfect totem, and I’m hoping his blowhard manner creates enough blowback that winds of change bring the Republican party back on some sort of useful course. But I’m not holding my breath.

  • Nobdy

    Does anyone really think that Trump can’t win?

    He can obviously win the Republican nomination (not that he WILL necessarily, but he obviously COULD) and then all it would take would be an economic downturn or huge scandal and he would win the presidency.

    People who consider a Trump win impossible at this point must be watching some different electoral cycle.

    • ajp

      I think it’s certainly possible. I keep waiting for Trump to step on his dick but here we are, in September, and he’s still going strong. I do however disagree with some people I know-and some pundits even-saying that Trump is a lock for the nomination. Too early to make that call. But it’s possible.

      • ChrisTS

        I’m sticking my neck out somewhere I don’t really like going, but …if he got the nomination, I wonder how the evangelicals would feel once they saw some of his wife’s online photos? Would he allow his handlers to even redirect her, ugh, fashion sense?

        • Davis X. Machina

          I wonder how the evangelicals would feel…

          They don’t care, so long as the other side is murdering babies.

          • ChrisTS

            I suppose there’s that.

          • CrunchyFrog

            Exactly. ChrisTS is making the mistake of thinking Evangelicals actually believe what they say they do. They do NOT evaluate people based on their behaviors. Oh, they say that they do – they call Clinton a “pervert” to this day for his affairs. But they also reflexively completely forgive thousands of “right thinking” people who got caught doing far worse.

            One of the right wing Xtians biggest heros is James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family. If you have the stomach for it, read his books on raising children to find out just how Xtian he is – the part where he illustrates his teaching style by describing the numerous beatings he gave his dog is horrifying. And they eat this stuff up.

            Right wing Xtians do not want a leader who follows their rules. They want a daddy who will take care of them – by bullying others -and tell them everything is all right. Remember these are the people who oppose anti-bullying measures in schools.

    • Pseudonym

      Anyone know any details about that poll that put Trump ahead of Hillary Clinton? It was SurveyUSA, which I think I remember not being particularly accurate.

      • Matt McIrvin

        Among other things, I think it showed 30% of Hispanics and 25% of blacks supporting Trump. Very odd if believable.

        • CrunchyFrog

          We’re at the point in political polling history where the results are driven a lot by how motivated people are to respond to a given poll. This means that people who are happy and excited about recent political events are more likely to respond to a poll. thus skewing the poll. We saw this happen after the first Obama-Romney debate, when Romney’s supporters were greatly excited about the debate while Obama’s supporters were depressed about it. Polls showed a big shift towards Romney – except the few polls that surveyed the same group every week and saw no movement at all.

          Thus, 30% of hispanics and 25% of blacks going for Trump in a poll at that moment is probably accurate – the tiny minority of people in both groups favoring Trump were no doubt thrilled at the political trends at the time.

          Of course, this has zero value for figuring out how a real race between the two would end up.

    • matt w

      Your point is taken–but I think Trump would have a pretty steep climb in the general. He’d really have to pull in a lot of angry white guys to outweigh completely writing off the Latino vote. Which is something that won’t show up in the polls, since they are likely to use turnout models based on elections where Latinos aren’t faced with an existential threat.

      And the models that say it’s fundamentals rather than candidates that matter are based on elections where neither side nominated Donald Trump.

      • CrunchyFrog

        The last point is an important one. Models based on past results pretty much assume the two candidates are typical of their political parties. Trump, as we know, is offering a truly populist platform. He’s telling white voters that he’ll stop giving their tax dollars away to the lazy blahs, but at the same time he’s in favor of real social programs that the GOP elders oppose – single payer health care, social security, etc. No idea if he’ll make these center pieces of his platform in the end or if he’ll backtrack – but keep in mind these policies are hugely popular if the voting public is asked about them without associating them with the Democrats. If he does stick with these policies he *may* win a lot of votes you’d normally consider unlikely. How many people would be offended by Trump but would hold their nose and vote for him in order to improve their personal lives.

        Heck, it’s hard today to find Democrats who openly advocate those kind of social programs.

  • Crusty

    Donald Trump reminds me a lot of Floyd Mayweather- both adults, obsessed with money, telling people how much they have, how awesome they are, in a very little boyish schoolyard way and each, well, yes, good at what they do, but deep down a little insecure about it. Yes, there are large gaudy buildings with Trump’s name on them, but old New York finance and real estate people don’t respect him, these days, his wealth comes largely from his “brand,” i.e., being a clown on tv, making Asian investors think that going in on deals where he licenses his name to them is a good idea. Likewise, Mayweather is a great boxer, but he doesn’t actually beat people up in the way that someone who fancies himself a “tough fighter” would. He runs around the ring with technical mastery of defensive fighting, which isn’t particularly exciting.

    They both seem to have problems with women too, but they manifest themselves in different ways.

    • Unemployed_Northeastern

      And both need Ronda Rousey to hand their asses to them…

  • Whether or not Trump is narcissistic in the diagnostic sense, narcissism is what his supporters want to see. If they can’t indulge in narcissistic consequence-free omnipotence themselves, and win applause every time they open their mouths and let out the vile stupid, they can at least do it vicariously by lining up behind the guy who’s living the dream.

    I am open to the possibility that he has shaped this persona with his appearances in the same media that convinced a lot of Americans that nercissism and sociopathy are the ideal personality types.

  • Keleka

    It also sounds like Richard Nixon, who was, probably also paranoid. We know what kind of damage he did.

  • Ken

    Who else does this describe?

    Hah, you got me. 99% of the time when someone says “You know who else…” on the Internet – well, you know. (Wouldn’t want to Godwin the thread.)

  • John F

    An analog I can think of for Trump is NY’s 2010 Governor’s race, where primary voters lost their collective minds and nominated Carl Paladino. Carl went on to lose by a 2:1 margin to Andrew effing Cuomo (In a GOP wave year and against Andrew Cuomo who has the name recognition but NONE, and I mean NONE of the charm or appeal of his father- and Andrew’s electoral history had actually been quite spotty up til then):

    Paladino excited the “base” but basically horrified everyone else (Including the NY GOP establishment)

    Now NY is not the US, but I still have to think that faced with the actual prospect of Trump’s name on the Ballot in November 2016, everyone not a rabidly partisan RWNJ will be sufficiently horrified by the prospect of the Donald as POTUS that he loses to whomever the Dems run

  • Bob Loblaw Lobs Law Bomb

    I kinda love this:

    Asked to name a book that influenced him, he replies: “I would love to read. I’ve had many best sellers, as you know, and ‘The Art of the Deal’ was one of the ­biggest-selling books of all time — that’s really what started this whole thing.” Soon he’s on to “The Apprentice” — “the No. 1 show on television” — but not a book at all.

    Take note, Ms. Palin, on how it’s done.

    • Ahuitzotl

      If PDotN was still able to learn or take notes, she wouldn’t be who she is

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