It isn’t exactly breaking news that the president of the United States has a narcissistic personality. He loves being the center of attention; he never, ever, ever admits to mistakes; he thinks critics are without exception liars and knaves; and he is prone to whining about how underappreciated he is. But this tweet really takes the cake:
Where does one begin in capturing the pathology of this presidential cri de coeur? Perhaps with his long-standing habit of making Rasmussen polls the fundamental baseline for understanding his public standing. When it comes to Trump approval ratings, Rasmussen is the very definition of “outlier.” Of the hundreds of polls taken since Trump took office that are in the RealClearPolitics database, not one other than Rasmussen’s has ever shown his approval rating at or above 50 percent. Right now, the RCP polling average for Trump’s approval rating is at 43.3 percent; at FiveThirtyEight it’s at 42.1 percent. In the 2018 midterm-election exit polls, it was at 45 percent, with 46 percent strongly disapproving. Since polling began, there have been many moments when presidents were more unpopular than Donald Trump, but there has never been a president who was so persistently underwater in popularity. It’s about as basic and undeniable a reality about him as his name.
Yet he denies it, and then goes on to whine that Rasmussen’s numbers vastly understate the popularity he deserves. Looking back at the history of presidential approval ratings (using Gallup, the oldest polling outfit in the field), there have indeed been multiple examples of presidents hitting 75 percent. Most (Truman, Kennedy, Johnson, Carter) did so during early “honeymoon” periods — which Trump notably did not have. Others (e.g., both Bushes) achieved very high popularity in moments of war-related national unity. And several modern presidents (Nixon, Ford, Reagan, Clinton, and Obama — all but one of them two-term presidents) never hit 75 percent approval. Yet Trump, who has the lowest average approval rating (39 percent, to date) of any president since Gallup started this kind of polling in 1938, thinks he’d be as popular as JFK or Ike (the two postwar presidents with the highest average approval ratings) if it weren’t for Mueller’s “harassment.”
It says a lot that the president cites tax cuts that weren’t particularly popular and judicial appointments that half the country hated as among the reasons his numbers should be crazy high.
In the endless parade of examples of Trump’s high self-esteem, this tweet may not stand out. But it’s yet another alarming sign of his disregard for feedback. He’s already told us that he should have won the popular vote in 2016 — if not for phantom “illegal voting.” Now, he says that he should be one of the most popular presidents in history — if not for Mueller. What if he decides on November 4, 2020, that he should have been reelected if not for some undefined and unproved malfeasance in casting or counting votes? Will this perpetually aggrieved man follow the truth as he sees it, or the evidence of your lying eyes? It’s a real concern.