Most presidents get a honeymoon with the public, the press, and even their own staff. It may last a month or so until the shiny newness wears off and we get down to the faults, fumbles, and screw-ups that humanize the people in the White House and the new president. That’s under normal times. But as we’ve seen with Trump, he is not normal.
We now have a story from The Washington Post (“The first days inside Trump’s White House: Fury, tumult and a reboot“) to match yesterday’s from The Times (“Rocky First Weekend for Trump Troubles Even His Top Aides“). They are each a classic type for a major newspaper. Throw your biggest reportorial names at the story, talk to every one and put together an over-arching from-the-inside narrative. They are each fascinating, occasionally comic and in some ways horrifying reads. But there is an underlying, not-made-explicit message to both which is perhaps the most important. We are three days into the administration and the Trump White House leaks not so much like a sieve as a bucket with no bottom.
The Trump White House not only leaks like crazy. It casually leaks the most intimate and humiliating details about the President – hurt feelings, ego injury, childlike behavior, self-destructive rages over tweets, media failure to credit his own grandiosity. We have simply never seen this level of leaking, with this little respect for the President’s dignity or reputation, this early.
It’s almost as if the White House itself is doing this in order to somehow garner sympathy for being so grossly mistreated by the snotty press who dismissed Trump and the people who voted for him.
It reminds me of numerous tormented characters in literature whose sole purpose in life is to mutter “I’ll show them!” and then pull off a high-profile crime to prove their manhood or something. I’m guessing that Trump, who has been dismissed by what he calls the “elites” nearly his entire life (all the while trying to attain the trappings of elitism and landing more or less on tacky), sees his election not as the victory of a party or of a political ideology — he could care less about the deeper insights of conservatism or liberalism. If being pro-choice and pro-immigration would have won him votes in Iowa he would have opened the Trump Abortion Clinic, Immigration Sanctuary, and Casino. All he wanted was to get back at the people who laughed at him in grade school…or at the White House Correspondents Dinner.
People seek power and run for high office for any number of reasons; occasionally they even do it because they want to help people or serve their country. But I think this is the first time I’ve seen it in a president who is doing it solely for vengeance.