The president isn’t the type to think he can walk on water, but he is the type to hope that millions of evangelicals keep falling for his shtick.
While talking to reporters on the White House lawn Wednesday about his plans for prosecuting a trade war with China, the president of the United States looked up briefly toward the heavens.
“I am the chosen one,” Donald Trump allowed.
Others had given the president gentle nudges toward divinity even before that. Wayne Allyn Root, a conservative extremist, conspiracy theorist and self-described “capitalist evangelist” who believes Jesus was the “CEO of the Christian religion,” described Trump the day before as the “second coming of God.” Trump gratefully tweeted Root’s blessings on Wednesday morning, several hours before his White House epiphany.
Yes, of course you need a certain kind of appalling narcissism to be comfy promoting yourself as heaven-sent in a televised press briefing and as a deity on Twitter. It’s doubly unhinged when you’re doing this as president, commander-in-chief and the man who swore on Inauguration Day to “preserve, protect and defend” the country. When it follows a crazy, distracting public flirtation with a Greenland buyout and a dizzying flip-flop on gun control, it can convince people that your underlying behavior has moved beyond the routinely nutty and delinquent into something more profoundly ruptured.
Trump, however, has been self-absorbed, self-deluded and wildly self-aggrandizing for decades. New Yorkers who had ringside seats to much of this know how much of a sociopath he can be when he wants his way (a useful case study is his failed effort to develop Manhattan’s West Side Yards years ago). They’re now watching the rest of the country and the world acquaint themselves with a Trump whom many either didn’t understand or willfully overlooked prior to his ascent to the White House.
The Trump of the past few weeks is the same disordered figure of the past several decades with, I suspect, a big dollop of something new blended in: unbridled and unmanageable panic.