We could be all wrong about Donald Trump. Maybe America isn’t in the grips of a madman. There could be a more benign reason for his bizarre and erratic behavior.
Perhaps it’s something as simple as this: The president just wants to be loved. Trump uses the “L” word repeatedly during his coronavirus briefings. Sometimes it comes out of nowhere, at a moment we least expect it. Then he moves on to something so ridiculous that we forget that he even said it.
He uses the term “love” to describe make-believe relationships with racial and ethnic minorities who don’t particularly care for him. He lumps people together, based on what they do for a living, the region of the country they live in or simply how they enjoy spending their time — and proclaims his love for them all.
‘A love fest’
Sometimes it appears the love he professes is contradictory. Sometimes it seems downright insincere.
He has declared his love for Asians, though he insisted on calling the coronavirus the Chinese virus. He says no one loves Hispanics more than he, yet he labeled Latino immigrants as rapists and opposes citizenship for “Dreamers” who have lived in America all their lives.
His Jewish son-in-law, Jared Kushner, says that Trump loves Jewish people, yet the president has been known to promote anti-Semitic stereotypes and at times has been reticent to denounce neo-Nazis.
In recent weeks, he professed his love for Michigan, Missouri, Georgia, Wisconsin, Louisiana and New York. But he thinks every state is “beautiful” and he loves them all the same. When he gathers all the governors on the phone, it’s a “love fest,” he says. An oh, he loves Europe too.
He loves farmers, bikers, the First Amendment and the new Abbott coronavirus test. And he loves Dr. Anthony Fauci, contrary to what some might think.
He loves the “people who have to go out and look for money” in the midst of the pandemic shutdown. The other day, he told us how much he loves “those people that use … the spas, the beauty parlors, barbershops, tattoo parlors.”
He stopped short recently of saying he loves mosques, but he is “in favor of leaders and people that love mosques.” Perhaps that’s close enough.
He would love for us to believe that his love is returned full force but, of course, we have our doubts.
When “PBS NewsHour” reporter Yamiche Alcindor asked him whether more people might have gotten sick from COVID-19 because he downplayed the severity of the virus early on, he responded by insisting that he is loved.
He thinks he’s loved
“A lot of people love Trump,” he said. “A lot of people love me. You see them all the time, right?”
He wishes it were so. But deep inside, he knows that it’s not. At a recent briefing, he confessed that no one shows him any love. That must have been hard to admit.
Maybe that’s why he lies to us. It’s a desperate attempt to make us like him, a plea for affection that might someday turn into love. How nice it would be if we looked at him longingly, clinging to his every word.
How happy he would be if we saw him as a president much better than Barack Obama ever was.
Trump tells us what he thinks we want to hear, in a futile attempt to convince us that things will be better than they’ve ever been before, as long as we stick with him.
He constantly reminds us of all he has done already, such as creating the “strongest economy in the history of the world.”
We are stubborn and too set in our ways to believe him.
If only he didn’t fail so miserably every time he tries to make us laugh. If only the media “got” him, rather than always setting out to get him.
Had we understood the man behind the bigoted, incompetent facade, we would have known that his theory about using household disinfectant and ultraviolet light to treat COVID-19 was a lame attempt at sarcasm.
Grip of a madman
Over the course of the coronavirus crisis, he is drifting deeper into a state of delusion. We see the fear in his eyes, the frustration in his voice and the desperation in every move he makes. That’s what happens to people when they feel unloved.
Oh, how he misses being on the campaign trail, where love and adoration overflowed. There is no one to boost his ego now, no one to cheer him on. Maybe we would feel sorry for him, if he had once shown empathy for others. But he has been too selfish, too quick to toss people aside. He could never gain our trust.
If he had the chance to read this column, he would, no doubt, call it fake news.
We know exactly who Donald Trump is. And America definitely is in the grips of a madman.
Dahleen Glanton is a columnist for the Chicago Tribune.