For all that I complain about having to think about Donald Trump, I admit that I spend a lot of time thinking about him voluntarily. I was flipping through laps at the pool the other day when it came to me why I find him so unnerving: I can’t find the human inside.
I may be bitchy and glib, but I consider myself a fairly empathetic person, in the sense that I try to figure out what’s going on inside people that makes them act the way they do. We’re all just little boys and girls, after all, scared and lonely and fearful and silly by turns. It doesn’t excuse our bad behavior, but it does at least begin to explain it. On the surface she might be a bitch, but when you understand that inside she’s terrified that now that her looks have faded no one will ever pay attention to her again, well, at least it makes her easier to approach.
I can’t do that with Trump.
There are clues. Has anyone else noticed that his desk and credenza are almost devoid of family pictures? He has five kids, three kids-in-law, several grandchildren, and one family photo. It’s his father. Seen here:
This man is 70 years old. To say he has “daddy issues” is almost a joke. Anyway, I’d think a man with daddy issues would act more like a son. He doesn’t. He’s Big Daddy. Only the original Big Daddy had a wider vocabulary. He knew what “mendacity” meant:
(Goddamn, Liz, that dress. I’m invited to a black-and-white ball next month, and I need that dress. Size 10, please.)
Anyway, I keep searching for the one scrap of actual human feeling that I can grab hold of, attempt some sort of mind-meld with the president, and keep coming up empty. I can understand that he’s intensely narcissistic, but even a narcissist should show some occasional fellow feeling. All I’m getting — it’s like I’m standing over a brain scan here — is a yawning void, or a grim landscape littered with…coal dust and lava, maybe.
Anyway, the big presidential talkers today were the Time story, in which we learn that Trump gets two scoops of ice cream on his chocolate cream pie, while Pence prefers a fruit plate. And also this:
But few rooms have changed so much so fast as his dining room, where he often eats his lunch amid stacks of newspapers and briefing sheets. A few weeks back, the President ordered a gutting of the room. “We found gold behind the walls, which I always knew. Renovations are grand,” he says, boasting that contractors from the General Services Administration resurfaced the walls and redid the moldings in two days. “Remember how hard they worked? They wanted to make me happy.”
Trump says he used his own money to pay for the enormous crystal chandelier that now hangs from the ceiling. “I made a contribution to the White House,” he jokes. But the thing he wants to show is on the opposite wall, above the fireplace, a new 60-plus-inch flat-screen television that he has cued up with clips from the day’s Senate hearing on Russia. Since at least as far back as Richard Nixon, Presidents have kept televisions in this room, usually small ones, no larger than a bread box, tucked away on a sideboard shelf. That’s not the Trump way.
I know a lot of people put their big TVs over the fireplace, but I’ve always hated that placement. And never mind the watch-TV-while-eating thing. Sigh.
The other one was the Economist interview. You can look up the link; I prefer this excerpt from a gobsmacked Matt Yglesias at Vox:
The Economist then rightly asks him how something like eliminating the estate tax could fail to benefit the rich, and Trump appears to enter a fugue state:
I get more deductions, I mean I can tell you this, I get more deductions, they have deductions for birds flying across America, they have deductions for everything. There are more deductions … now you’re going to get an interest deduction, and a charitable deduction. But we’re not going to have all this nonsense that they have right now that complicates things and makes it … you know when we put out that one page, I said, we should really put out a, you know, a big thing, and then I looked at the one page, honestly it’s pretty well covered. Hard to believe.
Do take the 10 minutes it takes to watch this entire video, of a constituent with a powerful head of steam confronting Rep. Tom MacArthur, who should be staring blankly at the wall after this beatdown.
Finally, because we must enter the weekend on an up note, a charming profile of Dwayne Johnson, i.e. the Rock, in GQ. The writer visits his private gym, in L.A.’s warehouse district:
Johnson’s in Los Angeles now to film HBO’s Ballers, but he’s got gyms wherever he goes. He’s building one at his farm in Virginia, where he keeps his horses (and also, he says, a piano once owned by Benjamin Franklin; it came with the farm), and he has a workout facility at his primary residence in Florida, where he lives on a compound on the edge of the Everglades, in a tiny rural town popular among professional athletes who yearn for country living within an hour’s drive of Miami. As he crisscrosses the country for work, he’s constantly scouting new spots. If he has to go to New York for a night, he will find a gym there, and it will be in a dank, subterranean room, probably off an alley that only Johnson can find. If you have a basement, he might be in your house right now, doing leg presses and staying hydrated. Found an incredible little out-of-the-way spot, he might write on Instagram, under a photo of himself lifting your washing machine. #HardestWorkersInTheRoom #ByAnyMeansNecessary #LateNight #StopNever.
He seems to be a genuinely nice guy. Maybe he’ll be our next president. Sigh.
A good weekend to all.