It's time to call Trump's presidency what it is: a victim complex with executive powers.
In the wake of yet another scandal suggesting collusion with the Russian government to influence the 2016 election, Donald Trump tweeted that he was a target of the "greatest Witch Hunt in political history." (Salem's congressman respectfully disagrees (opens in new tab).)
Trump's reaction marked the twelfth time the president has used the term "witch hunt" on Twitter to describe accurate media reports and reasonable investigations into potentially illegal activities by his staff and family.
This is a man who ran his presidential campaign catering to the "fuck your feelings" crowd, a man who has long prided himself on zealfully victimizing others—whether calling opponents diminutive nicknames, falsely suggesting women critical of him have a sex tape or a face lift, or allegedly groping and harassing multiple women over the years. So of course he would also end up being the man to have the thinnest skin in political history.
In part, Trump's persecution complex comes from his obsessive narcissism: He can't imagine that people's interests in the state of the country are about anything other than himself. The notion that citizens might be genuinely concerned for democracy would never even occur to a person who cannot see the world outside of how it relates to him and his needs. Trump's defense of his son is merely an extension of that.
After emails released this week proved that Trump's eldest son was open—excited, even—to receive damaging information on Hillary Clinton from Russian government officials, Trump insisted that Don Jr. is a "great person who loves our country." Trump also called him "transparent," a nod to the fact that his son tweeted out copies of the incriminating emails minutes before The New York Times ran a story on the messages' content.
And it wasn't just the president who jumped to Trump Jr.'s defense invoking victimization. One White House official told The Washington Post that the president's son was an "honest kid" who just wanted to hunt and fish, making the 39-year-old sound more like a boy scout on a camping trip than a seasoned businessman planning meetings with foreign governments. Later that same day, Fox News host Jesse Watters—known for racist segments and ambushing women—said on air that he thought Donald Trump Jr. was "the victim."
This all comes after Ivanka Trump told reporters at Fox & Friends that she felt blindsided by the "viciousness" directed at her father, and months of Trump staffers like Kellyanne Conway and Sean Spicer insisting that the president is the victim of unfair media attacks.
And while Americans remain on edge, wondering whether or not they'll have their healthcare taken away or see their families deported, the president of the United States—who took office six months ago—is still sitting around praising Fox News for their fawning coverage and tweeting about how Hillary Clinton wouldn't have been treated this way. (But don't worry, our president of perpetual whining assures us that he has "very little time" for watching television these days.)
Obsessively focusing on perceived slights or unfairness isn't entirely surprising from a person who sees himself and his family as above the law: When you believe the rules don't apply to you, the simple act of being held accountable feels like persecution. It's why Trump and his children are unable to get anything of substance done; they're too busy reeling from the idea that they might have to answer for their actions for the first time in their lives.
But what worked for the Trump family in business won't work in government; their entitlement can't protect them this time around. While Trump and his administration harp on their perpetual victimhood—coming across as small and unprepared as people can be—we'll all watch as they whine themselves into the corner and out of the White House.
Jessica Valenti is a contributing editor to MarieClaire.com—read her weekly column here.
Jessica Valenti is a columnist and author of five books on feminism, politics, and culture. Her latest book, Sex Object: A Memoir, was a New York Times bestseller. Valenti is also editor of the ground-breaking anthology Yes Means Yes: Visions of Female Sexual Power and a World Without Rape and the founder of Feministing.com, which Columbia Journalism Review called “head and shoulders above almost any writing on women’s issues in mainstream media.” She has a Master’s degree in Women’s and Gender Studies and lives in Brooklyn with her husband and daughter.
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