The Trump Presidency is a fluke.
It’s good to remind ourselves of that sometimes, especially when it feels like our country is going into the toilet: Donald Trump won the election only by virtue of nearly everything breaking his way. He was running against a historically unpopular candidate (God bless Hillary), who had been thrown under the bus by James Comey. Trump won by virtue of $6 billion in free advertising. By virtue of the media’s false equivalencies. By an enthusiastic far right inflamed by their own bigotry after a black man ran our country successfully for eight years. He won because Facebook didn’t yet know what it was doing. He won because of a highly effective Russian influence campaign, and because our sitting President made a miscalculation when he decided that Hillary would win and forcefully calling out the Russians would blow back on her. He won because of voter suppression. He won because the Russians convinced a small segment of the population that Jill Stein was a viable alternative. He won because the Russians hacked the DNC and used that intel to vilify Hillary in the minds of a large number of Bernie supporters in places like Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Ohio. He won because part of the American public was morbidly curious; they wanted to see what our country would look like if it was run by a reality-show celebrity.
And even still, Trump won by a technicality. He lost the popular vote by 3 million votes and won the Electoral College by a margin so razor thin that it would be easy to assume that any one of the above factors — or all — were determinative.
Donald Trump is an illegitimate President. He is a historical mistake. For better or worse, however, our Democracy honors the flukes in our system, and we will have to put up with him until or unless he is run out of office or he runs himself out of office. In either respect, he doesn’t belong there. He knows he doesn’t belong there. This weekend’s furious tweetstorm was designed to combat his own insecurities, his imposter syndrome. No one knows more than Donald Trump that he doesn’t belong in the White House — he senses that uniquely when our country experiences tragedy, or when the White House falls into chaos. Donald Trump knows he’s not cut out for this job. He’s trying to convince the American public of his competence as much as he’s trying to convince himself.
I mean, look at this:
Just watched a very insecure Oprah Winfrey, who at one point I knew very well, interview a panel of people on 60 Minutes. The questions were biased and slanted, the facts incorrect. Hope Oprah runs so she can be exposed and defeated just like all of the others!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 19, 2018
There are things that Oprah Winfrey can be accused of. Insecurity is not one of them. This is a classic case of transference — he’s imputing his own insecurities on Oprah Winfrey, one of the most confident, self-assured people on the planet.
Donald Trump knows he is an emperor with no pants, and he is absolutely terrified that people will see his underwear, so he endeavors to convince the American public that his pants are on, that we just can’t see them. There is a segment of the population that believes him, too. They believe him for the same reasons that New England fans support Bill Belichick, even though they know he is evil. Because he’s their guy. They believe him for the same reason that Steelers fans support Ben Roethlisberger — what’s the alternative? Supporting the Eagles? That’s out of the question. There’s a segment of this population with so much pride that they would rather support a rapist than the Super Bowl-winning opposition. It’s tribalism, baked into our Democracy.
But there aren’t enough “Belichick” and “Roethlisberger” fans to win an election without a lot of help from the FBI, from a flat-footed mainstream media, from an inexperienced social media, from the millions of dollars spent by a foreign government, and from a superior candidate weathered by decades of criticisms that she just couldn’t shake.
The odds of all of those factors lining up perfectly again for a man like Donald Trump are slim. Donald Trump is a fluke, and no one is more keenly aware of that than Trump himself.