Given the unremitting barrage of angry tweets, vulgar language and outright lies, not to mention recent incendiary revelations from interviews with White House insiders, “Pin the Psychological Diagnosis on the President” has become a national parlor game. The president’s incessant need to boast, whether about the size of his genitals or inauguration day crowd, his intellectual acuity or achievements during the first year in office, and his volcanic eruption of temper and mean-spirited vindictiveness when confronted with critical or negative feedback, suggest someone who requires constant admiration from others as he labors to convince everyone, including or especially himself, that he is worthy of praise. But no affirmation is ever enough for someone who feels they are both the center of the universe and absolutely worthless. This is the narcissist’s central dilemma. No amount of positive regard is sufficient to extinguish the underlying fear about being unworthy, so any negative feedback evokes threatening and intolerable feelings of worthlessness that must be resisted at all costs.
It is difficult enough to be personally involved with such a person, say, a boss at work or an intimate partner. It is another thing entirely when that person is the president and the leader of the free world. There is no escaping his needy and volatile presence on a daily basis. As a result, many citizens feel physically and emotionally exhausted, both bullied and beleaguered, by our current president as we bide our time until he leaves office. Unfortunately, we should expect his petulant behavior, his brittle defensiveness and angry Twitter outbursts, to intensify as his approval ratings continue to dwindle.
But as the nation tires of the president, the president tires of his job. For someone who desperately needs continual approval for his performance, the experience of being challenged directly in the give and take of political life is infuriating. He takes everything personally and rails whenever he does not get his way or when anyone portrays him in a less than flattering light. So, of course, the president would interpret Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s attempt to meddle in our presidential election as an attack on the legitimacy of his election victory. If everything is about him, what other explanation could there be for Mueller’s persistence? And as it remains unthinkable to contemplate how he could have lost the popular vote without widespread fraud, the president would have to convene a commission to prove it.
Mueller’s ongoing investigation represents a clear political threat to the president. While it remains unclear if he will identify an impeachable offense, namely, the president’s attempt to obstruct justice, I believe his work poses an even more serious danger. I suspect, as many do, that the president’s tax filings reveal a long history of financial shenanigans, including laundering money for Russian friends. This is the reason why he vehemently opposes the release of his tax records. I believe Mueller will connect the dots. And when the president and his lawyers learn what Mueller has discovered, the political noose will tighten considerably.
When Mueller presents his findings to the White House, the president will portray himself as the victim of the greatest political witch hunt in American history. He will characterize this witch hunt as a partisan effort to overturn the last election, one that distracted his administration and the entire nation while undermining his effort to make America great again. And he will state that the nation’s health and well-being requires an end to this “partisan circus”. Therefore, for the greater good of the country, he will resign immediately so his vice president can pursue his policy agenda with alacrity. Upon assuming office, the new president will thank his predecessor for rendering a great service to the nation and pardon him, without any admission of guilt. Our current president will experience great relief when he leaves office and after a long vacation, will resume his life as a celebrity businessman, while the nation is spared the further indignity of his leadership. The president’s resignation will occur before the next election.
Neal Aponte, Ph.D.
Editor of Delano