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politics

Donald Trump Is So Fucking Thirsty

His latest interview is his neediest yet.

by Eve Peyser
Apr 24 2017, 6:11pm

Photo: BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI / Getty Images

Though much of the Resistance delights in thinking of Donald Trump as a heartless monster, his presidency so far has been shaped by an all-consuming desire with a distinctly human bent: He wants people to like him, and he wants this very, very badly.

The president enjoys historically low approval ratings and has made a habit of bashing other foreign powers, but his approach to seeking both national and international praise is painfully Trumpian. Among other things, he tends to assert that the crooked media is wrong and that, actually, he has "great chemistry" with basically everyone. In a recent interview with the AP, Trump spoke about his infamous handshake-less meeting with German chancellor Angela Merkel, a woman he had previously said was "ruining Germany." Though he acknowledged their previous disputes about Germany's NATO payments, he insisted that the pair became fast friends.

"It's funny: One of the best chemistries I had was with Merkel," Trump said, later adding, "We had unbelievable chemistry. And people have given me credit for having great chemistry with all of the leaders, including [Egyptian president] el-Sissi."

The president went on to brag about his relationship with Chinese president Xi Jinping, saying, "I really liked him a lot. I think he liked me. We have a great chemistry together."

In case it is still somehow unclear, what Trump ultimately wants the media to know is this: "I've developed great relationships with all of these leaders. Nobody's written that." He also made sure to note, "I have great relationships with Congress," though his healthcare bill debacle and the reaction to his budget would indicate otherwise.

Trump's insistence on emphasizing his "great relationships" with world leaders and Congress, never mind his desperate need to bring up his narrow electoral college victory in virtually every interview, reaffirms what we already know: Donald Trump is the thirstiest man in America.

Past presidents, with all their incredible flaws, generally aimed to focus the conversation on policy, the American people, or what threatened the nation. Trump, on the other hand, is mostly interested in talking about his own popularity and the ways he's been wronged. (In his AP interview, Trump complained, familiarly, "I get treated very unfairly [by]... the fake media," later noting, "I get treated so badly" and "they treat me so badly.")

Thirst is what guides the most powerful man on the planet to center the conversation on the election, a contest he won, something that proves how beloved he truly is. It's why he's still obsessed with having rallies although the election is long over. His rallies also give him license to expound on the topic he cares about most (how popular he allegedly is), telling the AP, "People want the border wall. My base definitely wants the border wall, my base really wants it—you've been to many of the rallies. OK, the thing they want more than anything is the wall. My base, which is a big base; I think my base is 45 percent." In a recent tweet announcing a forthcoming rally in Pennsylvania, Trump made sure to emphasize its size, putting the word "big" in ALL CAPS.

Trump also compared himself to one of the most popular American presidents ever, intoning, "If Abe Lincoln came back to life, he would lose New York and he would lose California." (Um, LOL!) This thirst is all-consuming; it denies Trump any iota of self-awareness and the ability to understand why people don't like him, why the "fake media" isn't covering him "fairly."

Another problem with thirst is that it can distort reality. In the AP interview, Trump claimed that Democratic congressman Elijah Cummings told him, "You will be the greatest president in the history of this country." Cummings had already denied this, clarifying that he told the president, "During my meeting with the president and on several occasions since then, I have said repeatedly that he could be a great president if... IF... he takes steps to truly represent ALL Americans rather than continuing on the divisive and harmful path he is currently on."

But when the AP brought this up, the president rebuffed, "Well he said, you'll be the greatest president in the history of, but you know what, I'll take that also, but that you could be. But he said, will be the greatest president but I would also accept the other." When you're primarily concerned with your own thirst—the futile pursuit of infinite attention and superficial admiration—it can really blind you.

Nothing illustrates this better than the president's well-documented obsession with cable news. A Washington Post story published over the weekend quotes Trump as saying, "I'm not firing Sean Spicer. That guy gets great ratings. Everyone tunes in." Like most thirsty people, Trump wants people to pay attention to him, no matter the cost. Spicer gets "great ratings" because he often comes across as a fool; same goes with Trump. Kellyanne Conway told the Post, "President Trump is someone who comes to the White House with a sophisticated understanding of how to communicate, the power of television, the power of imagery, the power of message, and how message, messenger and delivery all work together."

Conway is actually correct, but Trump's voracious need to be adored means he can only use "the power of television, the power of imagery, the power of message" for his own self-interest. Because Donald Trump isn't thirsty enough to consistently enact policies that help anybody but himself.

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