I’ve written many times since the election about Il Trumpe’s narcissism. One thing to make clear (and hopefully, I’ve done so previously too) is that his narcissism doesn’t explain everything. The two narcissists I’ve known weren’t conservatives at all. Had Trump golfcarted off to the big country club in the sky before his inauguration, a President Pence administration would be just as awful, though probably some of the details of said awfulness would differ.
But narcissism does affect Il Trumpe’s job performance. One of the weird things about the executive branch in the U.S. (and not just the presidency) is there is a lot of ceremonial performance, along the lines of the current British monarchy, unrelated to executing governmental functions. Whether that’s a good thing or not is a separate question, but it is part of the job.
Guess who sucks at doing that? (boldface mine)
Still, consoler in chief has been a role that the president has been slow and somewhat reluctant to embrace — especially in contrast to his predecessor. Images of Mr. Trump hurling rolls of paper towels at hurricane victims in Puerto Rico last year and grinning broadly for photographs with emergency medical workers from Parkland have illustrated the challenge.
President Barack Obama’s staff would often prepare him with names and biographical details of people he would be encountering, news updates on the latest developments on an issue, and facts and figures he might want to cite in discussing it, according to Jen Psaki, his former communications director.
“But there was no scenario where we were suggesting to him, or needing to remind him, how to react to something emotionally, and if we had, he would have looked at us like we were crazy people,” she said…
Samantha Fuentes, who was shot in both legs during the Parkland assault, said she had felt no reassurance during a phone call from the president to her hospital room last week.
“He said he heard that I was a big fan of his, and then he said, ‘I’m a big fan of yours too.’ I’m pretty sure he made that up,” she said in an interview after being discharged from the hospital. “Talking to the president, I’ve never been so unimpressed by a person in my life. He didn’t make me feel better in the slightest.”
Ms. Fuentes, who was left with a piece of shrapnel lodged behind her right eye, said Mr. Trump had called the gunman a “sick puppy” and said “‘oh boy, oh boy, oh boy,’ like, seven times.”
He’s learned that his usual audience responds to the ‘sick puppy’ style talk, but he completely lacks the ability to understand, without external reinforcement, other people might not respond so positively. While this is unfortunate, if not cruel, to those who have to experience it, there can be policy consequences: the inability to focus on, or even truly comprehend, others’ needs makes it harder for him to understand policy consequences.
That said, any Republican administration would be awful on gun control. But he, and the Republican Party which slavishly follows him, isn’t going to ‘pivot’ any time soon based on appeals to humanity.