Tony Schwartz, who ghostwrote Trump’s Art of the Deal, has a column in today’s WaPo:
This one sentence sums it all up:
As Trump himself has said, he is essentially the same person today that he was at age 7. He has his story, and he’s sticking to it.
Schwartz’s experience goes beyond having watched Trump for months. In 2003, he co-founded The Energy Project, whose front page explains:
We help your people fuel their energy physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually, in order to better manage relentlessly rising demand.
(His company’s doing well by doing good: One year ago, CNN ran this profile on him: He's on a mission to make workplaces more humane. Schwartz says he donates the royalties from his book about Trump “to causes that protect people whom he believes Trump is ignoring or harming.”)
So when Schwartz speaks about Trump, he has lots of knowledge about how executives are supposed to learn their jobs.
Trump’s behavior is an extreme version of what we observe every day in our work at the Energy Project. Facing threats to their businesses and uncertainty about the future, leaders instinctively double down on what’s worked best for them in the past. The problem is that any strength overused eventually becomes a liability: Confidence turns into arrogance. Courage becomes recklessness. Certainty congeals into rigidity. Authority moves toward authoritarianism. Feeling attacked and aggrieved, Trump becomes more Trumpian.
And Trump can’t learn.
Trump’s knowledge and understanding have remained shallow because he resists reflection and introspection and struggles mightily to focus.
His need for instant gratification stands in the way of considering the longer-term consequences of his actions. Instead, he simply reacts in the moment. This helps to explain why he moves into overdrive whenever he feels attacked.
And this observation explains a lot:
Refusing to accept blame or admit uncertainty is a habit he developed early in life to protect himself from a brutal father, whose withering criticism he had watched drive his older brother, Fred Jr., to alcoholism and an early death. In Trump’s mind, if he is not seen as all good, then he is all bad. If he’s not viewed as 100 percent right, then he is 100 percent wrong.
Presidents often seem to have problems with their fathers. Bill Clinton’s father abandoned him when he was a child, and he was always seeking the love and approval he never got from him. George W. Bush felt he had to succeed where, in his mind, George H.W. Bush had failed — getting rid of Saddam. (He also had to gloat that he got a second term where his old man could not.) Obama’s relationship with his father was complex, though I’m not sure it affected his presidency (feel free to comment).
But none of these presidents had anything like Fred Trump for a father. And all of them — except Trump — were able to work their way past it. Trump has been having a temper-tantrum since he was seven years old, and he is never ever going to change. Nor is he ever going to grow out of a seven-year-old’s narcissictic focus on himself; that is never ever going to change.
It’s fitting that he gets a meltdown every time he sees Speaker Pelosi. The speaker has raised seven-year-olds and has several grandchildren, and knows exactly how to spank one.
The Politicus is a collaborative political community that facilitates content creation directly on the site. Our goal is to make the political conversation accessible to everyone.Any donations we receive will go into writer outreach. That could be advertising on Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit or person-to-person outreach on College campuses. Please help if you can: