I have just, with increasing astonishment and unease, finished watching the first press conference of President Trump. I was not expecting to be nodding in approval – in fact, I suspected I would feel even more dislike towards a man who is very hard to like. To my surprise, I find myself in entirely new territory. I am on the verge of feeling pity for Donald Trump.
Now, I never believed he would be a good President. I had suspected he would awkwardly acknowledge that his campaign promises were popularity stunts and settle for maybe being a mediocre President. I was surprised he actually tried to implement his Looney Tunes schemes, though less surprised when reality followed and he faced huge resistance.
Now he comes to promise us that he knows what he is doing and his administration is running smoothly. He has promised big things next week, including a rehashed take on his immigration policy, with a certain coy delight. He boasted during a press conference that he is having fun, despite making it clear he considers himself surrounded by hostile forces and will be criticised heavily.
And yet, he already seems to have lost something. Donald Trump has been a performer all his life. He was once unable to answer whom he was when not playing the role of Donald Trump. (https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2016/06/the-mind-of-donald-trump/480771/) Yet when I see him now, he seems to me to be a sulky teenager, pressured into something he does not want to do and making sure everyone can see it. This is not the fury of King Lear when he does not hear the flattery he knows he deserves – This is Lear before the storm, feebly trying to command it, to continue the denial of his own impotence.
This is a man who has had many failures in business despite his self-proclaimed business genius, had several rocky family relationships and tragedies, a long forgotten golden boy image and a lifelong quest to feed into his own ego and reap the rewards such a well-dined ego demands. He may have once seen the Oval Office as both the ultimate trophy and trophy room, the final triumph of what he considered a successful life. Now, the weight of the room is drawing in, and I think what he realises doesn’t just pressure him. I think, for once in a pampered life in which he has so frequently been indulged, bailed out or appeased, Donal Trump may truly be scared.
I almost feel sympathy for a seventy-year old man who must be feeling this fear, which should have come so long ago. I am instead nervous as to what this means for the country he is trying to make great again, and how much of his ego needs he will project onto it.