Donald Trump Is a Broken Man

LEON NEAL / GETTY

The most revealing answer from Donald Trump’s interview with Fox News Channel’s Chris Wallace came in response not to the toughest question posed by Wallace, but to the easiest.

At the conclusion of the interview, Wallace asked Trump how he will regard his years as president.

“I think I was very unfairly treated,” Trump responded. “From before I even won, I was under investigation by a bunch of thieves, crooks. It was an illegal investigation.”

When Wallace interrupted, trying to get Trump to focus on the positive achievements of his presidency—“What about the good parts, sir?”—Trump brushed the question aside, responding, “Russia, Russia, Russia.” The president then complained about the Flynn investigation, the “Russia hoax,” the “Mueller scam,” and the recusal by his then–attorney general, Jeff Sessions. (“Now I feel good because he lost overwhelmingly in the great state of Alabama,” Trump said about the first senator to endorse him in the 2016 Republican primary.)

Donald Trump is a psychologically broken, embittered, and deeply unhappy man. He is so gripped by his grievances, such a prisoner of his resentments, that even the most benevolent question from an interviewer—what good parts of your presidency would you like to be remembered for?—triggered a gusher of discontent.

But the president still wasn’t done. “Here’s the bottom line,” he said. “I’ve been very unfairly treated, and I don’t say that as paranoid. I’ve been very—everybody says it. It’s going to be interesting to see what happens. But there was tremendous evidence right now as to how unfairly treated I was. President Obama and Biden spied on my campaign. It’s never happened in history. If it were the other way around, the people would be in jail for 50 years right now.”

Just in case his bitterness wasn’t coming through clearly enough, the president added this: “That would be Comey, that would be Brennan, that would be all of this—the two lovers, Strzok and Page, they would be in jail now for many, many years. They would be in jail; it would’ve started two years ago, and they’d be there for 50 years. The fact is, they illegally spied on my campaign. Let’s see what happens. Despite that, I did more than any president in history in the first three and a half years.”

With that, the interview ended.

Such a disposition in almost anyone else—a teacher, a tax accountant, a CEO, a cab driver, a reality-television star—would be unfortunate enough. After all, people who obsess about being wronged are just plain unpleasant to be around: perpetually ungrateful, short-tempered, self-absorbed, never at peace, never at rest.

But Donald Trump isn’t a teacher, a tax accountant, or (any longer) a reality-television star; he is, by virtue of the office he holds, in possession of unmatched power. The fact that he is devoid of any moral sensibilities or admirable human qualities—self-discipline, compassion, empathy, responsibility, courage, honesty, loyalty, prudence, temperance, a desire for justice—means he has no internal moral check; the question Is this the right thing to do? never enters his mind. As a result, he not only nurses his grievances; he acts on them. He lives to exact revenge, to watch his opponents suffer, to inflict pain on those who don’t bend before him. Even former war heroes who have died can’t escape his wrath.

So Donald Trump is a vindictive man who also happens to be commander in chief and head of the executive branch, which includes the Justice Department, and there is no one around the president who will stand up to him. He has surrounded himself with lapdogs.

But the problem doesn’t end there. In a single term, Trump has reshaped the Republican Party through and through, and his dispositional imprint on the GOP is as great as any in modern history, including Ronald Reagan’s.

I say that as a person who was deeply shaped by Reagan and his presidency. My first job in government was working for the Reagan administration, when I was in my 20s. The conservative movement in the 1980s, although hardly flawless, was intellectually serious and politically optimistic. And Reagan himself was a man of personal decency, grace, and class. While often the target of nasty attacks, he maintained a remarkably charitable view of his political adversaries. “Remember, we have no enemies, only opponents,” the former Indiana governor Mitch Daniels, who worked for Reagan, quotes him as admonishing his staff.

In his farewell address to the nation, Reagan offered an evocative description of America. “I’ve spoken of the shining city all my political life, but I don’t know if I ever quite communicated what I saw when I said it,” he said. “But in my mind it was a tall, proud city built on rocks stronger than oceans, wind-swept, God-blessed, and teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace; a city with free ports that hummed with commerce and creativity. And if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors and the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here. That’s how I saw it, and see it still.”

A city tall and proud, its people living in harmony and peace, surrounded by walls with open doors; that was Ronald Reagan’s image of America, and Ronald Reagan’s Republican Party.

When Reagan died in 2004, the conservative columnist George Will wrote a moving tribute to his friend, saying of America’s 40th president, “He traveled far, had a grand time all the way, and his cheerfulness was contagious.” Reagan had a “talent for happiness,” according to Will. And he added this: “Reagan in his presidential role made vivid the values, particularly hopefulness and friendliness, that give cohesion and dynamism to this continental nation.”

There were certainly ugly elements on the American right during the Reagan presidency, and Reagan himself was not without flaws. But as president, he set the tone, and the tone was optimism, courtliness and elegance, joie de vivre.

He has since been replaced by the crudest and cruelest man ever to be president. But not just that. One senses in Donald Trump no joy, no delight, no laughter. All the emotions that drive him are negative. There is something repugnant about Trump, yes, but there is also something quite sad about the man. He is a damaged soul.

In another time, in a different circumstance, there would perhaps be room to pity such a person. But for now, it is best for the pity to wait. There are other things to which to attend. The American public faces one great and morally urgent task above all others between now and November: to do everything in its power to remove from the presidency a self-pitying man who is shattering the nation and doesn’t even care.

PETER WEHNER is a contributing writer at The Atlantic and a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. He writes widely on political, cultural, religious, and national-security issues, and he is the author of The Death of Politics: How to Heal Our Frayed Republic After Trump.
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25 Responses to Donald Trump Is a Broken Man

  1. Biden was an excellent vice-president, Ragnar, and will make an excellent president.. He is also intelligent, decent, honest, and sane. In other words, all the things that Trump isn’t. He also speaks much better than the president. Compare the two at the next debate. Remember the first debate?

    • ragnarsbhut says:

      Arlen Grossman, Joe Biden is dumber than d s***. He can’t open his mouth without saying stupid stuff, lying through his teeth or not keeping his foot out of it.

      • At least Biden says Intelligent things. Trump is not able to do that, and speaks about how wonderful he is. By the way, the consensus was that Biden did better than Trump at the last debate.

        • ragnarsbhut says:

          Arlen Grossman, Joe Biden is incapable of saying intelligent things. He opens his mouth only to stick his foot in it.

          • Ragnar: Here’s a challenge for you: Name one thing Donald Trump has ever done to help other people. Biden has spent his life helping other people. Trump cares only about himself.

          • ragnarsbhut says:

            Arlen Grossman, I could probably Google that information, however, it would show anti-Trump information. As far as the Russian collusion hoax, that b.s. would be disproved by people who are willing to look at the actual factual data. The slant of some search engines would make it difficult, if not impossible, to find the relevant information.

          • That’s convenient for you, Ragnar. You can’t answer the question because you think search engines are biased. Or more likely, you can’t find anything Trump has done to help other people (besides his rich cronies). I was hoping for something better from you. The current president only cares about himself and has shown that all his life.

          • ragnarsbhut says:

            Arlen Grossman, Donald Trump has been subjected to so much b.s. by the democrats that any person who is in touch with reality would see that. He may have done things in his past that have been morally questionable. Having said that, this is completely irrelevant.

          • Are you being serious? Tell me something Trump has done to help anybody other than his rich friends. Tell me about the promises he has kept (except judges) Explain his documented 12,000 or more lies. Tell me about his tax evasions, Chinese bank accounts, lack of a health care plan, and failure for taking on the coronavirus (resulting in tens of thousands of unnecessary deaths). I know you can’t answer my questions because there are no good answers. Trump is a total failure as a president and a human being. Give me a reason to believe otherwise.

          • ragnarsbhut says:

            Arlen Grossman, he has been less divisive than Barack Obama. That is to his credit. Regarding his tax evasion, with all of the loopholes, credits and deductions, nobody pays these high tax rates anyway.

            His lack of a health care plan is a lie. President Trump has mobilized his entire administration to address drug addiction and opioid abuse by declaring the opioid crisis a nationwide public health emergency.

            President Trump created a bipartisan opioid commission that issued 56 recommendations to help defeat the opioid crisis.

            In October 2017, President Trump directed The Department of Health and Human Services to declare the opioid crisis a public health emergency, allowing grant money to be used to combat abuse.

            President Trump signed the International Narcotics Trafficking Emergency Response by Detecting Incoming Contraband with Technology (INTERDICT Act) that would give customs agents $9 million for screening tools on the border.

            In FY2017, HHS invested nearly $900 million in opioid-specific funding.

            President Trump successfully pressured China to close dangerous loopholes that allowed Chines fentanyl manufacturers to legally ship the compound worldwide, much of which ended up in the U.S. President Trump signed a six-year extension of CHIP to fund healthcare for 9 million people.

          • Ragnar, you deserve credit for doing some research and noting the president’s efforts to combat opioid addiction. But I have to question the other conclusions. I don’t agree that Trump is less divisive than Obama. Trump even refuses to denounce white supremist groups As for taxes, he has paid much less than he should. He also owes over $400 million but doesn’t tell who he owes it to. We would know more if he released his income taxes, but he keeps refusing to do so. As for health care, we are still waiting for a comprehensive plan. It’s obvious we never will. Sorry, but not convincing.

          • ragnarsbhut says:

            Arlen Grossman, would you be willing to apply the standard of tax transparency to the democrats across-the-board? If you are to be consistent, that should be as true for the democrats as it should be for Donald Trump or the rest of the GOP.

          • I’m sure you know that Trump is the only presidential candidate in decades to not disclose his income taxes.  Democrats always show their taxes. So to answer your question: yes.

          • ragnarsbhut says:

            Arlen Grossman, even though we disagree on a lot of things, your consistency is to your credit.

          • Thank you, Ragnar. You too are consistent.

          • ragnarsbhut says:

            Arlen Grossman, I can adjust my thinking on some things if I judge the situation meriting such a thing. I tend to be consistent with my thinking generally speaking. Having said that, I am willing to reevaluate my positions if I am presented with information that I had not initially considered.

  2. ragnarsbhut says:

    Arlen Grossman, the b.s. that Donald Trump has been subjected to, both by the media and by the democrats, has been unwarranted. Russian collusion? That is a bunch of hogwash and people who talk about this know that. Think what you want about anything that happened in Donald Trump’s past, however, none of that is relevant to the present.

    • Donald Trump’s entire life has been lying, cheating, business failures, bankruptcys, huge debts, immorality, favorability on Russia,  iinaction on coronavirlus causing tens of thousands of death, racism,, spreading misinformation about Covid-19 and so much more. I can’t think of any successes. Can you?But if you’re aware of this, and have signed on with the MAGA cult, then I know I’m wasting my words. I’m disappointed. You should know better, Ragnar.

      • ragnarsbhut says:

        Arlen Grossman, both the Democrats and the Republicans looked the other way when Barack Obama abused his authority. Fast and Furious? The situation in Benghazi, Libya? The selective targeting of conservative groups by the IRS? The deletion of 33, 000+ emails from Hillary Clinton’s private server that probably had a good amount that had been related to government business? Destruction of various devices to cover her butt in the process? What racism has Donald Trump been engaging in?

        • I must have missed when Obama was prosecuted for those things, Ragnar. Lots of Republican investigations, none of which resulted in a prosecution.
          Are you serious about Trump’s racism? Let’s start with his discrimination conviction in New York for keeping blacks out of his housing. And tlhen there was his actions about the Central Park Five. He kept inslsting they were guilty even after they proved their innocence. Then there was his persistence about the discredited Birthergate. He also said that “both sides have good people” in the Charlottsviile Nazi protest. And in his recent debate he refused to condemn white supremist groups. But if you can’t see any racism there, then I have to conclude you have drunk the Kool-Ade and are beyond redemption.

          b

          • ragnarsbhut says:

            Arlen Grossman, the only allegedly racist thing that Donald Trump has done, at least in the eyes of his opponents, is attempt to secure our southern border. As far as the Covid-19 issue goes, what would you say if it happened on Barack Obama’s watch and he did nothing about it?

          • I’m sorry, Ragnar, I have a hard time taking you seriously. I gave you a list of evidence that clearly shows Donald Trump’s racism. Yet you completely ignore all that evidence! Not even a rebuttal.Then you ask what I would say if Barack Obama did nothing about the coronavirus.What are you talking about? Barack Obama wasn’t president when Covid-19 started here. Donald Trump did nothing when he learned about it, and didn’t even tell the American people, resulting in tens of thousands of Americans dying unnecessarily.Respectfully, Ragnar, nothing you have written makes any sense. Do you really think Donald Trump deserves re-election?

            P..S. I forgot to mention this earlier, but Donald Trump denies manmade global warming. Is that okay with you?

          • ragnarsbhut says:

            Arlen Grossman, I was speaking to the fact that Barack Obama would probably have just been as guilty of doing nothing as you claim Donald Trump is if Covid-19 happened on Barack Obama’s watch. Let the people decide if Donald Trump deserves to be reelected.

          • So, Ragnar, if I am understanding you correctly, you believe without evidence that President Obama would have done nothing about Covid-19, like Trump did, and thus would be guilty of neglecting the virus.  Huh?I believe he would have taken action and we would be a lot better off today.

          • ragnarsbhut says:

            Arlen Grossman, if Barack Obama had any good sense at the time, he should have selected another vice Presidential running mate. Joe Biden was a bad choice. The man could not open his mouth without sticking his foot in it.

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