To hear him tell it, Donald Trump is the most underappreciated president in the history of the United States. Almost every day, it seems, Trump takes to Twitter to bemoan one injustice or another: either he’s calling his treatment by the media “unfair,” bashing (a Republican-led) Congress for not getting things done or, recently, calling people “ungrateful.”
Trump’s tantrums stem from the general public’s disinclination to throw him a parade for whatever “accomplishment” he thinks should be celebrated, however meager it may be. For example, UCLA basketball player LiAngelo Ball and two other teammates were arrested for shoplifting in China recently. Though shoplifting in China carries a five to ten-year prison sentence, Ball was released and allowed to return home.
There are myriad reasons for this; Ball’s — or, more accurately, his father LaVar’s — status as a public figure garnered significant media attention for this case. China is considered a serial abuser of human rights, though the Chinese government tends to dismiss these claims. But someone like Ball (whose father has access to every major media outlet in the country) could easily report on the conditions of Chinese prisons, therefore drawing more attention to any human rights abuses and making it that much more difficult for the Chinese government to wave away the allegations. Adding to that, the United States and China are allies, and China is the United States’ largest lender; in other words, China has a good thing going with the U.S., so why kill the golden goose over a shoplifting charge?
The more perceptive among you will notice that these reasons have little to do with Donald Trump — the result would have been the same no matter who the President was. But Trump is unconcerned with such trivial details; in his mind, the only reason LiAngelo Ball is free is because of Donald Trump, a.k.a. President Deals. When LaVar Ball was asked about Trump’s role in securing LiAngelo’s freedom, Ball responded: “What was he over there for? […] Everybody wants to make it seem like he helped me out.”
Now, as much as I detest LaVar Ball, he’s absolutely right: whatever role Trump played in the matter, it assuredly had little — if any — impact on the outcome. Trump, of course, sees things differently: in his mind, he and he alone fixed it, and LaVar Ball should be a more grateful beneficiary of Dear Leader Trump’s favor. Trump is expecting profuse thanks for possibly having a hand in something that is already his job to handle.
Let’s recap one more time for the people in the back: Donald Trump, the leader of the free world, is mad that he didn’t get praise (from LaVar goddamn Ball, of all people) that he didn’t deserve in the first place. To put it in perspective, this is like if you held the door for someone who didn’t say thank you, and in response you call a press conference to publicly scold them. Actually, you know what? In this case, this is more like getting mad when the guy in front of you held the door for the person behind you and they didn’t thank you for…existing in that moment, I guess? It is the height of pettiness, but if Trump has proven to be good at one thing (and I do mean literally one thing), it’s turning perceived slights into all-out Hatfield & McCoy-style feuds.
Trump doesn’t just concern himself with the stage dads of promising NBA prospects, though. Monday morning, he took aim at the “Networks, plus CNN and not including Fox” who, according to Trump, offer “the most dishonest, corrupt and/or distorted…political coverage of your favorite President (me).” We are nearly a year into the Trump administration, and so far, Trump has won zero significant legislative victories, primarily because Trump has little interest in expending any meaningful effort to attain them.
Trump expected his job as President to go the same as his job in the private sector: all he’d have to do is show up, slap his name on things, and sit back and wait for the praise to roll in. Trump’s campaign began nearly two and a half years ago, yet after all this time, he still doesn’t seem to understand his role. Trump is a small-minded, uncurious buffoon with an ego like fine crystal who will lash out at anyone who does not show him the respect that he believes he deserves, despite the fact that he has done nothing to earn it.
I suppose this is part of what Trump supporters would call his “charm” — he never backs down from a fight. But these fights are largely of his own creation, and more often than not, they’re merely meant to serve as a distraction from the fact that he still has no idea what he’s doing. Rather than learn on the job, though, Trump prefers to engage in meaningless arguments, ones that any human being with a modicum of self-confidence would ignore.
On the one hand, I want to laugh at him — never has one man demanded so much recognition for doing so little. But on the other, the more he occupies himself with nonsense like this, the less he’ll end up getting done, which is to the benefit of all involved. Hell, let’s throw him a “Thank You” parade every day just for showing up to work; maybe that’ll keep him distracted enough for the next three-plus years that he continues to forget to do his job.