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President Donald Trump speaks to reporters before leaving the White House last Tuesday for a Thanksgiving trip to his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Fla.
Evan Vucci, The Associated Press
President Donald Trump speaks to reporters before leaving the White House last Tuesday for a Thanksgiving trip to his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Fla.

Just how deep is President Donald Trump’s well of narcissistic neediness? Well, The Washington Post reported last Friday:

President Trump says that Time magazine was contemplating naming him the “Person of the Year” for a second year in a row but that he pulled himself out of the running because he didn’t want to participate in an interview and photo shoot.

“Time Magazine called to say that I was PROBABLY going to be named ‘Man (Person) of the Year,’ like last year, but I would have to agree to an interview and a major photo shoot,” Trump tweeted on Friday evening. ‘I said probably is no good and took a pass. Thanks anyway!”

Richard Stengel, a former Time editor, responded by tweeting: “Hate to tell you but that PROBABLY means you’re NOT Person of the Year. They just wanted a photo shoot. But I’m sure you still have that fake TIME cover somewhere in storage.”

Later Friday evening, Time disputed the president’s claim, tweeting that he “is incorrect about how we choose Person of the Year.” The magazine said it doesn’t comment on its choice until publication, the Associated Press reported.

Trump was quickly mocked by everyone from actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus to tennis star Andy Murray.

Imagine a self-described billionaire, a man who beat the odds and won the presidency. He’s now the most powerful man in the world, but he feels compelled to make up a story to explain why a magazine isn’t giving him a meaningless tribute. That’s how needy Trump is.

Donald Trump was Time's 2016 Person of the Year. Last week, he said he turned down being given the award again after the magazine asked him for an interview and photo shoot but did not confirm he would be chosen.
AFP photo/Time Inc./Nadav Kander
Donald Trump was Time’s 2016 Person of the Year. Last week, he said he turned down being given the award again after the magazine asked him for an interview and photo shoot but did not confirm he would be chosen.

We would have no particular concern for his happiness and self-regard, given his loathsome character, if not for the danger his total self-absorption poses to the presidency, the country, democracy and the West. His bottomless well of insecurity makes him a sitting duck for authoritarians well-versed in the art of flattery. His self-absorption make him incurious about the world — about anything other than himself — and as one who asserts he knows more than anyone else, he cannot learn from others. His personality defects make him unwilling to give up grudges, unable to let go of small inconsequential matters (e.g. athletes kneeling, crowd size), unequipped to control his anger, unprepared to set out a bottom line in negotiations and unmoved by others’ expectation he should show loyalty to them. His tweets now read like a form of free-association therapy as he babbles on about his obsessions, fears and resentments — thereby making himself the object of even more ridicule and contempt.

Michelle Obama likes to say, “Being president doesn’t change who you are, it reveals who you are.” In the cauldron of the presidency when surrounded by sycophants to one side and brutal critics to the other, and faced with constitutional and practical limitations on executive power, Trump’s already weak temperament, intellect and psyche are stressed.

Before becoming president he lied and boasted to assuage his ego; he now lies constantly and more outrageously to deny failure in the Oval Office. He was naturally suspicious and untrusting; now he’s vexed by unhinged paranoia, making him a patsy for conspiracy theories in office. He never bothered to concentrate on intellectual pursuits and learn from others before; now he’s a know-nothing who relies on aides to clean up his gaffes and deploys the excuse of “Fake news!” to conceal his jaw-dropping ignorance. Unfortunately, Trump has virtually no redeeming qualities to counterbalance his inadequacies.

That the weight of the office has already “gotten” to Trump and discombobulated him so after only a year post-election is evidence of his weak character and intellect, a sign of his abject unfitness for the job. Maybe special counsel Robert Mueller will get the goods on him, compelling Congress to impeach and remove him. Perhaps he can be persuaded to return to his New York home permanently, where accountability and transparency are absent, where he is free to luxuriate in the fantasy world in which he’s the most successful real estate mogul on the planet. If not, and if he remains through the end of his term, one shudders to think how unhinged he will become if he never gets Person of the Year again, a Nobel Prize or an approval rating above 50 percent. And worse, imagine how much destruction he’ll do to the country, our democracy and the Western alliance of democracies along the way.

Jennifer Rubin writes the Right Turn blog for The Post, offering reported opinion from a conservative perspective.

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