The Elephant in the Room
Donald Trump’s presence has become so overwhelming in the American media (and probably most of the world’s), that one would probably have to go to the middle of the Sahara Desert to escape from the ubiquity of the Trump visage and the commentary about his actions, remarks, or tweets. He is literally everywhere and dominating America as no other president or individual has ever done before. Part of it of course is the universality of the Internet, social media, cable and network television. But most of it is Trump himself with bizarre and unprecedented behavior that gets people talking, nay arguing about the latest indignity that Trump has perpetrated, or the latest person that he has insulted.
We just cannot get away from him. It’s almost like Big Brother watching over us to see his face constantly leering at us from our television screens. (By the way, the title of this article has multiple meanings as Trump is elephantine in his proportions and his ego, the elephant is the symbol of the Republican Party, and an elephant in the room invokes constant conversation.) But it is not just that Trump is watching us, but that we are almost being forced to watch him against our wills. Trump is addicting in some ways, and pro or con, we can’t get him out of our minds.
So many of the things that Trump does and says are strange, unusual, and certainly unpresidential. On a daily basis, he lies or exaggerates about various people, actions or ideas, or concepts he has devised, reversing what he said or did hours or days later. Perhaps he is doing this to confuse America’s enemies, but it also confuses our friends and citizens. When he says or tweets something, one does not know if he is serious and whether he intends to follow through on what he has said. He may promise a course of action one day and ignore it the next.
The only certainty in Trump’s behavior is his belief that the world revolves around him. While America is supposed to be a nation of laws, with elected and appointed officials swearing fealty to the Constitution, Trump ignores this premise and demands loyalty to himself instead from those in the Republican Party or those working in the executive branch. He just doesn’t get it: doesn’t understand or doesn’t care about how government is supposed to work.
America has had presidents with big egos before, like LBJ or Nixon, but Trump’s ego dwarfs all others. Presidents tend to think about their legacy and how history will judge them. But Trump doesn’t seem to care about his legacy at all. He doesn’t read and his knowledge of history is as miniscule as his ego is huge. He appears to care more about not being embarrassed by what he has done previously, such as his hook-ups with different women, or being found to be less rich and successful than he has conned the nation into believing, or having dealt with criminals to launder money. That’s why his tax returns remain hidden.
Trump is a man to whom image is everything. He has an obsession about being on Time Magazine covers, having articles in the newspapers that praise him, and television programs that laud him. That is why he tends to keep his TV tuned to Fox, knowing that the commentators there will be supportive of his behavior.
The investigations of Trump’s past actions, the question of collusion with the Russians to aid his election, his conduct that suggested obstruction of justice, and his past business with foreign loans and the possibility of money-laundering also keep Trump front and center before the American public. Whether you like him or loathe him, you must admit that Trump dominates the American media landscape and loves being there. He ascribes to the idea that whether you’re receiving good or bad publicity, it’s still publicity and keeps the public’s attention on you. Just where it should be.