His name is Tony Schwartz. He is a successful business executive and well-known author. Perhaps his most famous book, which he co-authored with Donald Trump, is the infamous “Art of the Deal.”
Schwartz just wrote an op-ed for The Washington Post in which he posits for America that Trump’s behaviors were completely predictable, and that they are rooted in a deep, deep psychological issues.
He says that after literally hundreds of hours watching Trump and listening to him, his behaviors since becoming President were completely predictable – from the firing of Comey to undermining his White House staff to blabbing classified information to the Russians – it was all predictable.
Early on, I recognized that Trump’s sense of self-worth is forever at risk. When he feels aggrieved, he reacts impulsively and defensively, constructing a self-justifying story that doesn’t depend on facts and always directs the blame to others.
Schwartz continues by pointing out much of Trump’s ego developed because of a complicated relationship with his father, “I was drawn to business very early, and I was never intimidated by my father, the way most people were. I stood up to my father and he respected that. We had a relationship that was almost businesslike.” This, Schwartz explains, is why Trump “felt compelled to go to war with the world.”
It was a binary, zero-sum choice for him: You either dominated or you submitted. You either created and exploited fear or you succumbed to it — as he thought his older brother had. This narrow, defensive worldview took hold at a very early age, and it never evolved. “When I look at myself today and I look at myself in the first grade,” he told a recent biographer, “I’m basically the same.” His development essentially ended in early childhood.
Instead, Trump grew up fighting for his life and taking no prisoners. In countless conversations, he made it clear to me that he treated every encounter as a contest he had to win, because the only other option from his perspective was to lose, and that was the equivalent of obliteration.
Schwartz connects the dots between Trump’s childhood, his ego, and his psychological profile with what’s going on in the White House:
The Trump I got to know had no deep ideological beliefs, nor any passionate feeling about anything but his immediate self-interest.
Over the past week, in the face of criticism from nearly every quarter, Trump’s distrust has almost palpably mushroomed. No importuning by his advisers would stand a chance of constraining him when he feels this deeply triggered. The more he feels at the mercy of forces he cannot control — and he is surely feeling that now — the more resentful, desperate and impulsive he becomes.
Even 30 years later, I vividly remember the ominous feeling when Trump got angry about some perceived slight. Everyone around him knew that you were best off keeping your distance at those times, or, if that wasn’t possible, to resist disagreeing with him in any way.
In the hundreds of Trump’s phone calls I listened in on with his consent, and the dozens of meetings I attended with him, I can never remember anyone disagreeing with him about anything. The same climate of fear and paranoia appears to have taken root in his White House.
Folks, everything Trump has done, is doing, and will continue to do are all completely predictable. If you think he’s going to calm down and “grow up,” well, you’re naive. And the sooner you can come to the conclusion that Trump is only in this for Trump’s interests, then the sooner America can get back on track.