There is no modern Madman Theory that can be applied to Donald Trump. As much as #45 would like to draw all the unpredictable comparisons to Richard Nixon, it’s the one he doesn’t want that gives the public the greatest insight into who he really is. He might not want you to know, but it’s clear to anyone who cares to take even the most perfunctory glance.
Trump has the ineptitude and self-righteousness of a Jimmy Carter, crossed with the cuddly charm of Nixon. The good parts of the man — his humor and sly charm — do not outweigh the bad parts, of which there are many. He’s constantly debasing everything and everyone who might find themselves on the wrong side of his mood. His whole outlook on life is based on hatred. Trump is a man who defines himself by what he despises. Why else would he base his administration around undoing everything Barack Obama did?
Here’s the problem: For all of Trump’s obsession with presentability, he’s a transparently emo, insecure, nervous wreck of a man. He’ll give an inaugural address or convention speech and everyone will see right through it to the human wasteland he really is, and he spreads the sensation of being uncomfortable like a virus. He can’t keep it to himself. He has to share it. That’s where we are as as people. We elected a stalker as president. And that’s okay in general, if it’s what the people want.
He purposely glowers in pictures and carries himself in the same hunched over, arms-crossed, self-protective style as Nixon. For all his frightening shock politics and bullying, Trump is just a sulking, wailing child. Overreacting, loud, and dreadfully predictable in his weirdly public overcompensation. I mean, the guy gets two folders a day of nice things people have said about him.
Everyone might be overthinking the mystique. He’s an undiagnosed depression case. Money can’t buy you class or peace of mind, apparently. Being the pariah of New York was one thing, and the birther conspiracy only got him so much fleeting attention, but even winning the presidency isn’t enough to fill the gaping hole inside of him. The guy won’t even laugh in public. He smiles at people not so much to keep up his side of the conversation, but more to watch other’s reactions. It’s no wonder he’s obsessed with Obama, whose composure and stoicism Trump only wishes he could emulate. It’s that obvious feeling of inferiority that drives him. Trump is nothing without that nagging feeling that he’ll never measure up, and the terrible disappointment that it didn’t come with the money he was born into. His birthright turned out to be worthless.
Because Trump is himself an admitted villain, the president will need someone to demonize. In case it wasn’t evident enough before the president’s United Nations General Assembly speech, he seems to have settled on North Korea. This president has a knack for picking fights with other Russian client states when his numbers dip into the lower 30s. Indeed, Kim Jong Un has the ideal society for Trump, with a cult of personality all swirling around one bloated figurehead. Trump himself, before threatening “fire and fury,” called Kim a “smart cookie.” We’re meant to think that Trump could launch the world into a nuclear exchange at any time — leaving the rest of us waiting for the catastrophe of his personality to pass and make us somewhat normal again. He’s probably just as scared as you are.
The Sad Man Theory of Trump is that there is not one action he takes or decision he makes that isn’t centered on a deep well of dysfunction and insecurity. It isn’t his frail and disintegrating mind. It’s his heart. The human heart has tastebuds, but it can only taste bitterness. It’s a real thing. You can look it up. Trump is no greater than the sum of that one defective part. He’s not just acting out or being crazy or stupid or classless or cheap; it’s that he’s operating out of bitterness and sadness.
North Korea and America are about to learn what Trump’s first two wives already know: That this man is impossible to live with. He is a sullen mass of depression, and it’s best to get as far away from him as humanly possible. It was a shotgun marriage, ill-thought, hasty, and heated, and ultimately a mistake. Sad!