Trump is just a junkie for conflict, nothing more

Republican presidential candidates, businessman Donald Trump and Republican presidential candidate, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, argue a point during a Republican presidential primary debate at Fox Theatre, Thursday, March 3, 2016, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

(AP)

“A man you can bait with a tweet is not a man we can trust with nuclear weapons,” Hillary Clinton warned us in her acceptance speech last week. And while that description of Donald Trump is accurate, I don’t think it fully captures the scale and scope of the problem. Yes, Trump is “thin-skinned” and “easily provoked,” but putting it that way implies that he is the passive actor in that process. He is very much not.

The truth is that Trump craves conflict like normal people crave food or water. He feeds off it, draws energy from it, and when it’s missing from his life, when he needs a jolt, he’ll go out of his way to create it, in any form he can find it, against any target that presents itself, including Gold Star families and fellow Republicans crucial to his election hopes. (In recent days he’s even tried to pick fights with fire marshals, for goodness sakes.) The fate of his campaign, his party, his reputation and even his country are less important to him than getting that fix.

Conflict gives Trump a reason for getting up in the morning, which also explains his habit of posting something angry and outrageous on Twitter long before 7 a.m., just to get his day started right. It’s his large pot of dark, black coffee. It puts that grim smile on his face.

This morning, of course, there is no such Twitter post.  That’s because we are once again at the Chastened Donald point in the Trumpian mood swing, the point at which he placates staff and family by telling them that OK, he knows that he has a problem and from now on he’s going to be a good boy. But as we know by now, Chastened Donald is a temporary aberration. Like any junkie, pretty soon he starts looking for his next fix, and who knows how he’ll acquire it.

Conflict is crucial to him because only through constant conflict can he constantly reinforce his self-image as a winner. And when he picks a fight and loses? Oh boy.

He lost his battle against the Khan family — he lost it badly — and you can tell that knowledge just eats at him. He wants so badly to re-engage, to correct the injustice and humiliation visited upon him. He won’t give it up; I guarantee he will return to it over and over again, out of the blue, in the weeks and months to come. And unlike other politicians, he can’t satisfy his need for conflict by waging battle on the basis of policy because he knows no policy, and more fundamentally because it doesn’t give him the shot of adrenaline that he craves. It has to be deeply personal to count.

And if losing to the Khans can drive Trump batty, imagine what losing to Hillary Clinton will do to him in the months between now and November. Earlier this week, he bragged that he was up by eight points in New Hampshire; in reality, the latest post-convention polls show him down by 15, with 63 percent of likely N.H. voters saying that he is unfit to be president.  In Pennsylvania, the latest numbers show him down 11. In Michigan he’s now down 9.

538

Source: FiveThirtyEight.com

Earlier this week, after the latest CNN poll showed him losing by nine points nationally, he dismissed it as CNN’s revenge against him for refusing to appear on that network. Instead, he enthused about the wonderful people at Fox News, urging his followers to keep their TVs tuned to “fair and balanced”.

Well, in the Fox News poll released yesterday afternoon, he is down by 10 nationally. As he confessed to a crowd in Florida last night, he doesn’t understand it, and bad thoughts have begun to enter his head:

“Wouldn’t that be embarrassing, to lose to ‘Crooked Hillary Clinton?’”

It is inconceivable to me to want to put a child like this in the Oval Office. His reluctant enablers in Washington, the Paul Ryans and Mitch McConnells and Marco Rubios of the world, tell themselves and the voters that once Trump is elected president, they’ll be able to manage him, as if that were true and as if we should somehow find that reassuring.

Well, it isn’t true and it isn’t reassuring. The executive branch was not designed to serve as some grand kindergarten to manage the neuroses of a conflict junkie. When the founders drew up our constitutional system of checks and balances, they did so as a guarantee against accidents. They did not contemplate that we might consciously install a person as president whom we knew beforehand was temperamentally unfit to hold it, a person elected with a mandate to pull the whole system down.

I too used to think that such a thing would be impossible. Then again, I also used to admire John McCain, even though we disagreed politically. That changed after his selection of Sarah Palin to be his running mate, to be the proverbial one heartbeat away. In my naivete, I thought Palin’s nomination would stand forever as the ultimate act of cynicism and political irresponsibility, of risking deep harm to the nation in order to pursue personal ambition for power.

I look at those in Republican leadership today — those who know better, who see the danger and yet stay silent — and I understand that putting Palin one heartbeat from the presidency was nothing in comparison.

 

 

Reader Comments 0

1091 comments
Sheila Taylor
Sheila Taylor

He's just plain old nothing....no need to go any further with a description.

Stephen Holland
Stephen Holland

I can give $4.5 billion worth of reasons that's false.

Michele Wendling Olson
Michele Wendling Olson

Ha! And Hillary is conflict free??? The FBI admitted she lied. So sad that useful idiots are so prevalent...

Jeff Budkoski
Jeff Budkoski

No need for nukes when you can simply pay off your enemies. Barry's good at that.

DerekGator
DerekGator

Vote Libertarian!  You won't feel dirty after voting and you will not have voted for the lesser of two evils. 

Don S. Rowley
Don S. Rowley

The republican voters are too dumb to realize that trump is a troll

Carl Augustus Nix III
Carl Augustus Nix III

No...he is a fighter against the PC BS that has become so common in our land!!

Jeri Henson Dies
Jeri Henson Dies

But combined with nukes--conflict every day ain't so good for Americans' health.

Sheryl Meyer
Sheryl Meyer

That's why the dumb libs don't like him.

Aaron Mcgruder
Aaron Mcgruder

All Donald Trump got to do go lay down get in the fetal position and said he won't his blanket and suck his thumb

Brian Willis
Brian Willis

Yes a billionaire times 9 or 10. Spent all his life looking for conflict huh, you mr bookman are a special kind of stupid.

James Minor
James Minor

Yes, he does. You people like to close your eyes to his past huh?

Brian Willis
Brian Willis

James Minor he did not live or make his wealth from being a government career employee. That is enough for me. We have been electing career politicians from both sides of the isle and look where that has gotten this country! Look at his history please before commenting. But please do not go to political talking points that the republican and democrats have put out there for low information voters to consume. You do not become successful in real estate looking for fights, you have to be able to wind your way through red tape of local governments , state governments, federal governments and countries. He has always hired the best person for job, does not discriminate. When he bought the country club in Florida he fought and won to open it up to Jews and minorities. This probably will not sway you but instead of calling you names or putting down your candidate I just wanted to put real facts out there for you.

Dunk13
Dunk13

Jay......quit trashing Trump! You are ridiculous!

Peachs
Peachs

So is the fixed polls showing Trump losing by double digits , it's a conspiracy!

Sheryl Meyer
Sheryl Meyer

Well someone needs to put idiots in their place.

Sheryl Meyer
Sheryl Meyer

James Minor, you ignorant fool that is Obama who thinks he's king.

Carol Smith
Carol Smith

He's more of a King then you are a queen with your old looking wrinkled face nasty dirty looking self.

Randy Puckett
Randy Puckett

And, inciting racism gives the AJC a reason to print everyday

Randy Puckett
Randy Puckett

Look at any comment feed on any AJC feed and it's all about race. Even the two teenagers that were murdered in Atlanta, most of the comments are about white on white crime or white privilege being the reason the police made an arrest. This on my opinion is caused by AJC as most of their articles have something to do with race. There is no "just reporting news" anymore.

Billie Thomas
Billie Thomas

mega successful would be enough for me but a little conflict helps keep the blood pumping I suppose...

Jeremy Wilson
Jeremy Wilson

It appears that Jay Bookman is projecting again. And that he never gets tired of whining.

Ken Holley
Ken Holley

News Flash: Turns out there is one more thing that gets Mr. Trump up in the morning...and that is helping the country curb illegal immigration. This will do more for this country than anything Hillary has proposed.

Trump Trump
Trump Trump

I get up hoping to read Obama's obituary

Doug DeLoach
Doug DeLoach

Trump Trump exists to troll. Don't feed it.

Austin Breland
Austin Breland

Judging by your profile picture, it won't be long before we are reading your.

Danny Braswell
Danny Braswell

Just because you don't agree with someone isn't a reason for their death...wow

Aaron Mcgruder
Aaron Mcgruder

Wow to say something like that you must feel like Donald Trump do are you feeling certain way about African American people but that's your loss and it's going to be his loss if you read anybody obituary it'll be Donald Trump's before Obama's

Trump Trump
Trump Trump

Austin Breland whats wrong with my profile picture?

Starr Helton
Starr Helton

It is certainly your right to not support President Obama but to wish him dead says more about your character than it does about anything else.

Arlene Wardlow
Arlene Wardlow

Really now u wishing death on someone you might go before him wow would hope your mother taught you better so much hate praying for you Trump Trump

Debra Fish
Debra Fish

#DNCLeaks and #wikileaks is where the media should be focusing but the media was also exposed so....