Subscribe to the IHARE Blog

Putin’s Pence: What Does He Get from the Relationship?

THE DONALD and "Fred Trump" (courtesy

A Question That Won’t Go Away: Why Does Trump Love Putin So Much?

Following the news that Russia put a bounty on US troops, this old puzzle takes on new significance.

David Corn (June 29, 2020)

What does Putin’s Pence get from his relationship with Vladimir Putin? Everything is transactional. It’s all about the deal. Therefore it should be possible to determine what the American President gets in exchange for being submissive to the leader of America’s adversary.


On Putin’s side, it is relatively easy to determine what he gets or wants from his relationship with his American asset.

End of the sanctions
Restoration of the G8
Approval for the invasion of the Ukraine
Approval for Russia’s actions abroad including in Afghanistan, Africa, Libya, and Syria
Permission to violate the American elections in 2020 as he did in 2016
Approval for invading the Baltics should he decide to do so.

Plus whatever other actions Putin is doing or decides to do which a normal American President would oppose.


In general, there is an assumption that Putin must have something on his Pence. In other words, the reason for the subordinate behavior is due to the risk of exposure or the withholding of some action that his Pence desires. While I do not agree with this assessment, it is worthwhile reviewing the potential areas of blackmail which have been identified.

1. Compromising Pictures

There has been an ongoing fascination over what happened when THE DONALD had the Miss Universe pageant in Moscow in 2013. At that time, he tweeted:

Do you think Putin will be going to The Miss Universe Pageant in November in Moscow – if so, will he become my new best friend? 11:17 PM · Jun 18, 2013

Strange tweet to be sure. It has led to investigations into what really happened. For example:

When Donald Trump brought Miss Universe to Moscow by Michael Crowley 5/15/16

Trump in Moscow: what happened at Miss Universe in 2013 by Jon Swaine in New York and Shaun Walker in Moscow (9/18/17)

Trump’s Miss Universe Gambit by Jeffrey Toobin (2/26/18).

Something had to have happened in the swirl of money, media, and babes. How could it not have? Even if there was some skullduggery in the selection of the winning contestant and/or the finances of the pageant, could that have been enough to turn the American President into Putin’s Pence?

Besides money and manipulation, could there have been compromising pictures that THE DONALD would do anything to keep secret just as he doing with his taxes?  Titillating as the idea is, the answer seems to be “no.” Let’s put the 2013 pageant in historical perspective.

2005 January 22 marriage to Melania
2005 September, Access Hollywood tape: claims he’s still got it
2006 March 20 birth of Barron
2006 Stormy Daniels, one night stand
2006 Karen McDougal, possible next wife

As best I know between 2006 and 2013, there are no allegations of grabbing, harassment, one-night stands, or affairs. What happened? At some point did THE DONALD simply cease performing as THE DONALD? I am not familiar with any reporting on why the change in behavior occurred or when. However the cessation of even specific accusations against him leads me to believe that for whatever reason, he was a different person in his sixties than he had been earlier. Therefore, I am inclined to believe that the idea of compromising pictures is wishful thinking

2. Trump Tower

The desire to build a Trump Tower in Moscow certainly was a pre-presidential goal. Is it still one? Whatever backroom maneuverings he undertook to secure approval probably weren’t that different from the way he was used to wheeling and dealing in the New York real estate market. The differences were in location and the government involved. It’s hard to imagine that he is subservient to Putin simply in the hopes of being able to build a Trump Tower in Moscow after he is no longer President.


Thanks to some recent reporting by Carl Bernstein and a book by Mary Trump it is possible to better document what was known and/or suspected all along.

Mary Trump describes the child in the body of a man as coming from a truly dysfunctional family. Fred Trump’s racism evidence in KKK associations and his rental practices are nothing new. The anti-Semitism may be a bit of a surprise given his daughter’s conversion and his support of Israel, but it is consistent with his stereotype of Jews.

What’s new is the extent to which Fred Trump was a person with serious psychological problems and to which they extended to his son. Not to repeat what she has written and said in interviews, but the atmosphere in that home must have been suffocating. One son was driven to alcoholism and died early. By contrast, THE DONALD figured out a way to survive and thrive under those conditions. As Mary Trump describes it, he carried that dysfunctionality with him all of his life. One might note that he added his own shortcomings to the mix.

Future biographers will have a field day trying to determine what was nature and what was nurture (or its absence) in the upbringing of the child. Mary Trump says he has he emotional maturity of a three-year old.  But that doesn’t explain why he has the mental necessities and cognitive skills of an immature child. Being emotionally immature doesn’t explain the inability to read a briefing book or need someone to take the SATs. Mary Trump suspects a learning disorder but he may just have a child’s brain that is incapable of functioning at the adult level.

How long would it have taken a skilled KGB operator like Putin to realize these shortcomings?

Mary Trump writes of his uncle as the “court jester from Queens.”  She mocks his inability to succeed in business without his father’s help. One might add that after Fred’s death, the Russian mob filled in the financial gap. Mary Trump writes of the tension between the dependent son in the real world with image of THE DONALD he wanted to be real. She claims his bragging and false bravado were really directed towards his long-dead father: Look at me! I made it! Look how tough I am! Look how I beat up on women! Aren’t I a real man!!?

How long would it have taken a skilled KGB operator like Putin to realize that Little Donne Waney was an alpha male wannabee and not the real thing?

Mary Trump asserts that her uncle was trained to hunger endlessly for daddy’s approval. Now she claims that father has been replaced by father figures who remind him of his real father, father figures like Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong-un. Once Kim Jong-un was little rocket man and THE DONALD bragged of having a bigger rocket and button. Then they became “lovers.” Who knows what they are now. But Jong-un is a son who succeeded in his father’s business.

Putin is the number one alpha male on the world stage. People who observe Putin and his Pence together readily ascertain which one is the dominant male and which one is subservient. Bernstein writes: “Putin ‘just outplays’ him.” The alpha male wannabee is focused on building himself into a macho-macho man who Putin will respect. And it was always about him, never about the United States, its allies, or being leader of the free world.

How long would it have taken a skilled KGB operator like Putin to realize that he didn’t need to put the alpha male wannabee on the Russian payroll? Putin’s Pence would be a Russian asset all on his own, so pathetic was the American President’s need for Putin’s approval. The alpha male dominated the child inside the body of an adult.

The three-year old will never grow up.  He will yell at governors for being weak. He will demand that they dominate the protesters. He will insist they not be losers. Then he will show them the way by dominating Lafayette Square as no President in American history ever has done. Wouldn’t Fred be proud of his son’s success?

Putin undoubtedly realizes that the time of his Pence as President may be nearing an end. He can read briefing reports. Putin’s window of opportunity for exploiting the complicit President is closing. What will he do before his Pence leaves office? Will he seek a final hurrah when he knows the United States will not respond? Invade the Baltics? Given the weaknesses of his own country, there may be limits to what he can do. When all is said and done, this brief interlude when his Pence presided over the United States may be remembered as the time when an immature child in the body of an adult desperate for the approval of his dominating father tried to the best of his ability to help make Russia great again.

“PRESIDENT IS STILL A CHILD…” (Headline NYT July 8, 2020): YES! YES! YES!

I Can't Grow Up. I Can't Get into School on My Own (

The opening sentence in the article is: “President’s niece describes him in a much-awaited tell-all-book as a child in an adult’s body… 

The President is still a child! For months if not years, I have been saying that Little Donnee Waney is a child. For months if not years I have been saying that he does not act childish, he really is a child. For months if not years I have been saying that instead of political talking heads, people should interview child psychologists, 7th grade teachers, 7th grade guidance counselors. Now finally, at last, to see a headline in The New York Times asserting that the “President is a child” is like a dream come true. YES. YES HE IS. YES HE IS A CHILD. YES HE IS STILL A CHILD. THE TRUTH SHALL SET US FREE!

My first major foray into the world of Little Donnee Waney, the child in the body of a man occurred in the blog Tom Hanks versus Our Immature Child-President (August 8, 2017) nearly three years ago. In that blog I compared the two 13 year-olds in bodies of adults, the one in a movie and the other in the real world. I analyzed them according to various attributes – Tom Hanks could read – and concluded:

Some of the silliest comments made on the cable talk shows have been “Now he has become presidential” or words to that effect. One has to laugh at the absurdity of such remarks. He was an ignorant immature child when his father sent him to military school in the vain hope that he would man up. He is an ignorant immature child now. He will be an ignorant immature child when he dies. And he still could be reelected in 2020 if the Democrats keep blaming Putin for their defeat and don’t have the vision to confront the shortcomings of their candidate and their party’s message.

These words have stood the test of time and even without the coronavirus the election isn’t over.

I returned to the theme earlier this year in Tom Hanks and Donald Trump, Round II (March 16, 2020). I wrote:

By contrast, Little Donnee Waney remained trapped, through no fault of his own, as an immature child in the body of an adult who never grew up. Consider these comments.

The comments referred to all the things an adult liar would never say because the adult liar would know they are false and they are easily proven false (15 becoming zero, miracle cure…). The immature child playing games in an imaginary world operates under different rules. SCHOOLS WILL OPEN! I SAID SO!

It’s not as if people were not aware of the shortcomings in his brain (New York Times Investigates the Brain of Donald Trump: President Has a Hissy Fit [April 15, 2020]). On the subject of his education, I wrote:

The key to leading him to knowledge appears to be the proverbial old-fashioned school marm. For all we know, Dr. Birx reminds him of teachers he had in elementary school, teachers before his father put in him military school in the vain hope that he would man up.

If he were in elementary school today, he would be classified as “special.” He proves the need for special-ed teachers who can give students the 1:1 time they need to be able to learn despite certain challenges.

This is consistent with Mary Trump’s suspicion that he “may have a long undiagnosed learning disability.”

We can observe the limits of his writing skills in his letter to Erdogan (Could Nancy Pelosi Become the First Female President?: A Constitutional Crisis April 3, 2020 [not likely now!]

Keep in mind the perfect third-grade letter to Erdogan which is going to figure prominently in the Unpresidential Library. This time we have another unsolicited public example of his cognitive skills. Chris Cillizza, CNN Editor-at-large, refers to it as an “utterly childish letter” [to Schumer] He writes the letter “reads like a sort of Mad Libs you might fill out and leave in the locker of your 7th grade enemy.” Sounds exactly like something I would write about the seventh-grade-smart-aleck-dumb-aleck. In fact, it is what I have been writing in blog after blog! He is not childish, he is a child. He has the brain of one.

How about his analytical skills (Hannity versus Mueller: Who Is the Better Dot Connector? January 29, 2018)?

The Two Dot President

About a year ago during an international conference, the President of the United States wandered off to chat with the Premier of Russia. It was an unscripted unplanned exchange with no aides participating. What did the leaders of these two nuclear powers talk about? According to the American leader the subject of their discussion was adoptions. The Russians had restricted the ability of Americans to adopt Russian babies and the American President sought to discuss that issue with his Russian counterpart. It certainly sounded innocent enough.

As it turns out like father, like son. The son also had had a meeting with the Russians and guess what? The topic he addressed also was adoptions. Here we had two meetings and both involved not collusion, not the removal of sanctions, and not the refusal to enforce sanctions, but a sincere effort to help unfortunate (white) Americans who can’t have children to adopt (white) children from Russia. What could be more noble and inspiring than to have the father and son team pleading for the Russians to help these Americans?

Two dots had been connected. When the President of the United States concocted this coverup story he did so by connecting two dots, his meeting with a Russian and his son’s meeting with a Russian. We would be remiss if we ignored how proud he was to make this connection, to have connected these two meetings into a single story. The Very Stable Genius was practically beaming with joy at this display of his mental prowess. All by himself, he had fabricated a story that linked two dots.

For our Two Dot President, this story represents the limit of his mental skills. He can’t go beyond the two-dot limit. It is the maximum of which he is capable. Think of his transactional foreign policy. It’s not just that he is incapable of a policy of win-win, two plus two equals five, and synergy, it is that he is limited by his mental capacities to only being able to think in binary terms. He genuinely is incapable of exceeding his two-dot limit. For higher order thinking to make sense of a large world, the Very Stable Genius needs to outsource his thinking to someone capable of connecting more dots, to Sean Hannity.

His shortcomings in this area have been aggravated by his excessive use of Twitter. It has made a bad situation worse. Consider these excerpts from “The High School We Can’t Log Off From” (NYT, 8/5/18 Print) by Jennifer Senior which I wrote about in my blog Omarosa and the President: A Case of Arrested Development – Suppose Life Is Not a Journey? (August 17, 2018).

Should we be surprised that a man who’s so frequently compared to a needy adolescent has chosen Twitter as his favorite medium?

Clay Shirky, one of the shrewdest internet theorists around, has noted that the faster the medium is, the more emotional it gets. Twitter, as we know, is pretty fast, and therefore runs pretty hot. (Emotional tweets, research has shown, travel more swiftly than anodyne ones.) We often become creatures of our limbic systems when we tweet. Our self-regulation deserts us (been there); our prefrontal cortex, responsible for executive function and impulse control, goes offline; we become reward-seeking Scud missiles, addicts in search of a fix.

We become, in other words, teenagers, who are notoriously poor models of self-regulation — in large part because their prefrontal cortices are still developing and their dopamine circuits are pretty busy seeking stimulation. The psychologist Laurence Steinberg describes adolescents as “cars with powerful accelerators and weak brakes.” The neuroscientist BJ Casey deems them “more Kirk than Spock.”

Putting aside this misunderstanding of Kirk, the real problem is Senior’s continued examination of Little Donnee Waney as an adult who is regressing to teenage behavior. Instead he really is that needy adolescent who never reached adulthood. Perhaps Senior will interview Mary Trump once the latter is able to speak publicly.

There is some valuable new information reported in the book. I always assumed Fred Trump made a donation to the University of Pennsylvania to obtain entrance for his “challenged” son. He still may have. Now we know how the transactional approach worked – the son hired someone to take his SATs. Will that person come forward? Undoubtedly, he also paid people at college so he could stay in college, maybe even with great grades, maybe not. Will those people come forward? Would you want to come forward if you helped “The World’s Most Dangerous Man”?

This information reveals that there was a time when THE DONALD knew he was not a very stable genius. Paying people to take tests is evidence that he lived in the real world and was aware of his limitations. There was a time when he knew he was not the smartest person in the room. This understanding raises the possibility that now he has lived his life as THE DONALD for so long, he is a permanent resident of his imaginary world scarcely in touch with the real world. He has become an episode of the Twilight Zone. He needs the professional political wrestling arena to live.

We also now know that Fred Trump would support a loser. Mary Trump paints a scary picture of the father. He demanded his children be winners or else. Yet he knew his son was a LOSER each and every time he incrementally gave the equivalent of $413 million in total to him. He knew his son was a LOSER each and every time one of his son’s businesses failed. He knew his son was a LOSER each and every time he interfered behind the scene.

“He is and always will be a terrified little boy,” according to Mary Trump. Exactly. Every decision he makes should be understood through this prism. And it’s only going to get worse for him. The real world is closing in on him in every judicial decision, every poll, and every coronavirus death. Imagine the shock the terrified little boy will experience that first time the jail doors slam on him at Rikers.

Donna Reed, Eddie Haskell, and The Donald: The Fifties Live

Were The Donald's 50s His "Happy Days"? (

The Fifties are alive and well with The Donald, more so than I had realized. Yes, people have often commented on his preference for the white world of America’s idealized past, but there is more to it than that. I have frequently commented about The Donald being an immature 13 year old or 7th grader in contrast to the level-headed 13 year old Tom Hanks in “Big.” While that is true, I neglected to situate that immature child in time. In other words, he is different from 13 year olds in other time periods; he is a child of the 50s who never grew up.

I first realized his temporal status when he withdrew the United States from the Paris climate agreement in 2017. At the time he said:

“I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris.”

Put aside the fact that Pittsburgh had voted for his opponent. Instead focus on the city itself. In recent years, it has transformed itself. It is not the iron and steel city it once was. The football team may still be named the Steelers, but steel is not what the city does. Then it occurred to me: The Donald was living in the past. His image of Pittsburgh was based on what the city once had been. It was a manly city where people had manly jobs doing mainly things with iron and coal. His image of the city in the present is based on his image of the city when he was growing up. His Pittsburgh was a city where men were men and women were women and people knew their place.

I should have realized then that legacy of the 50s may have extended beyond that one reference.

Queen Elizabeth

Here again was a passing reference to the childhood of The Donald in the 50s that turns out to be another brick in constructing an understanding the immature child today. When our President was about to meet the Queen, here was the headline in my local paper:

Trump’s Fascination With Royal Family Goes Back to His Mother’s Admiration (NYT, June 4, 2019, print).

According to the article:

One of President Trump’s earliest memories, one he routinely recounts to journalists and biographers, is of watching his mother watch television, so enthralled that she barely moved for hours, on the day in 1953 that Queen Elizabeth was crowned.

He was only 6 years old, but he understood that the gilded spectacle unfolding more than 3,400 miles away inside Westminster Abbey struck a chord in his mother, Mary Anne MacLeod Trump, a poor girl who had immigrated from Scotland and who had worked for a time as a housemaid in a grand mansion. He also understood that, for some reason, the same spectacle offended his father.

“I also remember my father that day, pacing around impatiently, ‘For Christ’s sake, Mary,’ he said, ‘enough is enough, turn it off. They’re all a bunch of con artists,’ ” Mr. Trump recalled, years later. “My mother didn’t even look up. They were total opposites in that sense.”

For William Jefferson Clinton, the iconic moment occurred when the 16 year old met President John Fitzgerald Kennedy. That father-figure was an important one in understanding the future President. Similarly one may observe how the Queen and the royal family served as a benchmark for Little Donnee Waney as well…even when he became a crude, rude, 13-year old who had to be sent to military school in the vain hope he would man up.

The Golden Age of NYC Baseball

Typically when referring to the Golden Age in New York City baseball, one is referring to the 1950s. It was the decade when New York teams dominated. The New York Yankees, the New York Giants, and the Brooklyn Dodgers either won the World Series or played in it. Sometimes they play each other in the Series. Sometimes the Giants and the Dodgers played each other to determine who would be the National League champ and go on to the World Series. These series, playoffs, pennant drives, and individual plays became part of baseball lore. It was the time of Mickey, Willie, and the Duke. This era was imprinted on the minds and souls of countless boys who lived through it.

The Donald played baseball. Apparently when he was in 6th grade, he wrote a baseball poem that was published in his elementary school yearbook (per the Washington Post, 06/22/16):

I like to see a baseball hit and the fielder catch it in his mitt…
I like to hear the crowd give cheers, so loud and noisy to my ears.
When the score is 5-5, I feel like I could cry.
And when they get another run, I feel like I could die.
Then the catcher makes an error, not a bit like Yogi Berra.
The game is over and we say tomorrow is another day.

The 6th grade catcher mentions fellow catcher Yogi Berra of the New York Yankees. It is quite reasonable to think that The Donald was a Yankee fan. It is hard to imagine him rooting for those National League teams with all those Negroes playing for them. And besides, the Yankees were the Team of Champions. Recently during the coronavirus crisis, he said:

“I saw baseball is doing something very unusual, I don’t know if I agree with it,” he said. “I’d like to see the Yankees play at Yankee Stadium. I see they have some ideas for baseball which are very different. I guess I’m a traditionalist. … I think they’d be able to play in Yankee Stadium with obviously smaller crowds and then the crowds would start to build as things get to be a little bit better. I think you’re going to see some big things happen. And again, this is going away.” WFan 4/29/20

Strangely though, most of what you hear about The Donald and baseball is about himself during the early 60s when he was in high school. As expected, virtually nothing that he says about his high school baseball career is true except that he did play for his high school team. That’s no surprise. But what is missing are the baseball stories about the 50s. Did he attend any games with his father? The sixth grader knew about Berra making an error; does he have any memories of any other plays, players, games, or World Series. Perhaps there are real diehard baseball fans who can identify the error Berra made that made such an impression on him. As we all know, it is always about him, so it should not be surprising that he has no stories to tell about others. Imagine The Donald and Billy Crystal trying to swap stories about baseball in the 50s or any other time. When it comes to The Donald and baseball in the 50s it is like there is no there there.

Eddie Haskell

Ken Osmond, the actor who played Eddie Haskell in Leave It to Beaver, just died on May 18, 2020. His character lived on long after the show ran (1957-1963) and was something he never really escaped. Osmond was 14 years old when he started performing as Haskell and about 20 when the show ended. That made him older that The Donald who was 11 when the show began and remains 13. Haskell was not The Donald. Haskell was great character. How could anyone in the show not see through him? But unlike The Donald, he was two-faced. Haskell knew how to act before the parents, the people of authority, and what he could get away with when their backs are turned. By contrast, The Donald was and is one-faced. He thrives on being the naughty boy in public. Think of how much fun he has when he curses in public at one of his professional political wrestling rallies. Think of how much fun he has when gratuitously insulting press reporters (adults, people who can read and know things) at his press conferences. Osmond grew up and became a cop; Little Donnee Waney remains frozen in time.

Donna Reed

So what does Donna Reed mean to The Donald? His image of her was not set by It’s a Wonderful Life Donna Reed but by her TV series The Donna Reed Show (1958-1966). He would have been 12 when it started and would have already graduated high school when it ended. My guess is his watching was during the earlier years. Did he watch the show about the ideal mother and wife with his mother? Did it remind him of his own family? Did he lust for her and want to grab her? All of the above? Some of the above? I don’t know the answers to these questions. Mothers change diapers and raise the children as they did with his own wives…and if they wanted more they were no Donna Reed and the marriage was over.

Did The Donald read the Bobbsey Twins on his own? Did his mother read the stories to him as a child? Why didn’t she read The Hardy Boys or Chip Hilton to him? Today we tend to focus on the experiences of The Donald with his father: the KKK, the racism in the business, the $413 million the father gave the son making him the biggest individual financial loser in American history. What about the mother? Remember how he wanted to reopen the country by Easter so families could celebrate together and go to services just like a Donna Reed family? That sounds more like his mother speaking than his father? If biographers have covered this topic already I apologize for not having read those books. To me at least, there is more to our immature child President than we may realize. Was his mother his Rosebud for an imagined world he never had?

Trumptanic Hits the Coronavirus Iceberg: Who Will Sink? Who Will Swim?

There isn’t any iceberg.
There was an iceberg but it’s in a totally different ocean.
The iceberg is in this ocean but it will melt very soon.
There is an iceberg but we didn’t hit the iceberg.
We hit the iceberg, but the damage will be repaired very shortly.
The iceberg is a Chinese iceberg.
We are taking on water but every passenger who wants a lifeboat can get a lifeboat, and they are beautiful lifeboats.

Look, passengers need to ask nicely for the lifeboats if they want them.
We don’t have any lifeboats, we’re not lifeboat distributors.
Passengers should have planned for icebergs and brought their own lifeboats.
I really don’t think we need that many lifeboats.
We have lifeboats and they’re supposed to be our lifeboats, not the passengers’ lifeboats.
The lifeboats were left on shore by the last captain of this ship.
Nobody could have foreseen the iceberg.
Dave Granlund

The Trumptanic has hit the coronavirus iceberg. Who will sink? Who will swim?

Lately I have been watching segments of The Morning Joe Show. During the recent shows, the hosts have referred to the “erratic” behavior of the President of the United States who appears to be having a “meltdown.” That term triggered the Titanic link in my mind. The hosts claimed this erratic behavior was showing up in the polls. They show Biden ahead nationally and in battleground states and even tied in Texas. And this is before the number of coronavirus deaths increases faster and well-beyond the 60,000 limit once communicated.

While this banter can be informative and entertaining, it suffers from a serious flaw. This flaw is not unique to this one show, but its presence undermines the message the hosts are delivering about the inept and incompetent crisis management of the ignorant self-centered wartime President. The flaw is the persistent attempt to analyze and understand the decisions and actions of our immature child President as if he were an adult. The result is an analysis that borders on useless. He is feeling the stress as all the techniques he uses to maintain his imaginary world are not working with the coronavirus. To get his mojo back, he needs to develop a new set of rules for his imaginary world that can carry him to November (see below).

Let’s recap the situation.

Fred Trump: places 13-year old son in military school in the vain hope that he would man-up. He knows there is something wrong.

Melania Trump: “Sometimes I said I have two boys at home — I have my young son and I have my husband,” 10/17/16 to Anderson Cooper. She knows the truth and just doesn’t care.

Anonymous: “It may be cold comfort in this chaotic era, but Americans should know that there are adults in the room. . . . And we are trying to do what’s right even when Donald Trump won’t,” 9/5/2018 in NYT. This person knows the truth and does care.

The Toddler in Chief: What Donald Trump Teaches Us about the Modern Presidency by Daniel Drezner, March 2020

Book description: Every president faces criticism and caricature. Donald Trump, however, is unique in that he is routinely characterized in ways more suitable for a toddler. What’s more, it is not just Democrats, pundits, or protestors who compare the president to a child; Trump’s staffers, subordinates, and allies on Capitol Hill also describe Trump like a small, badly behaved preschooler. [ARE YOU LISTENING THE MORNING JOE SHOW HOSTS?]

In April 2017, Daniel W. Drezner began curating every example he could find of a Trump ally describing the president like a toddler. So far, he’s collected more than one thousand tweets—a rate of more than one a day. In The Toddler-in-Chief, Drezner draws on these examples to take readers through the different dimensions of Trump’s infantile behavior, from temper tantrums to poor impulse control to the possibility that the President has had too much screen time. How much damage can really be done by a giant man-baby? Quite a lot, Drezner argues, due to the winnowing away of presidential checks and balances over the past fifty years. In these pages, Drezner follows his theme—the specific ways in which sharing some of the traits of a toddler makes a person ill-suited to the presidency—to show the lasting, deleterious impact the Trump administration will have on American foreign policy and democracy.

The “adults in the room” may not be able to rein in Trump’s toddler-like behavior, but, with the 2020 election fast approaching, the American people can think about whether they want the most powerful office turned into a poorly run political day care facility. Drezner exhorts us to elect a commander-in-chief, not a toddler-in-chief. And along the way, he shows how we must rethink the terrifying powers we have given the presidency.

“Based on Trump’s behavior as catalogued in this book, the idea of Trump coping with a true crisis ⸺ a terrorist attack, a global pandemic, a great power clash with China ⸺ is truly frightening.” Obviously the book was written before the coronavirus virus exposed the toddler for all the world to see and laugh at.

The question here is the ability of the immature child to process information in the adult world without resorting to an imaginary world where he can make up the rules. Let’s look at the example which triggered the recent outburst of insulting criticisms on The Morning Joe Show.


Back on July 30, 2019, I wrote in the blog The Unpresidential Library: The Adolescent Room after polls showed him losing to Joe Biden:

Naturally those polls were fake news.

Now imagine being a pollster in the campaign, an actual professional pollster who lives in the real world. Just as the proposed Trumpican director of intelligence will tell the commander in chief only what he wants to hear until it is too late, so the campaign pollsters are required to provide only good polls as Fox is supposed to do. Suppose these fake news results continue week after week, month after month, how long can the immature child live in his pretend world?

So far the real world has been very kind to the adolescent in chief. Almost all his problems are of his own doing. What happens if he starts having external problems in the real world that he cannot successfully pretend do not exist?  What happens if all the polls are fake news even on Fox and from his own pollsters? What happens if he needs to act as an adult in the real world? Whatever does happen, the Unpresidential Library will exhibit the story of the adolescent who became Commander in Chief in the real world and only had childish ideas of what to do.      

Now ten months later we have seen the answers. When a professional pollster showed him polls from the real world, the immature child naturally erupted. What else would you expect?

How could his polls be bad when his ratings were so good? Here one may observe the limited necessities of the simple-minded child. At his level of thinking there was a direct correlation between the TV ratings and his popularity. The very stable genius, the smartest person in a room as long as it is a morgue or a nursery school with no adults in it, is genuinely unable to understand why during a crisis people might tune in to see what the wartime President has to say. He can’t understand how the ratings of governors could increase and his did not. The polls must be Fake News. Produce good polls or you will go the way of the people who testified against me in the Impeachment Hoax or who provided the public with incorrect information on testing or how I handled the coronavirus. If I can muzzle Time Magazine’s Person of the Year from telling the truth in public, guess what I can do to a pollster?

Suppose then you are the person who has to explain to the Impeached President that the death toll probably is thousands of people higher than is publicly reported. Suppose you show him the charts created by The New York Times comparing the death rates from March 8 to April 11 in 2019 to 2020. In just seven states, it shows an additional 9,000 people died…and that is just until April 11, over three weeks ago. Try to explain to the immature child that people are dying of coronavirus at home or elsewhere with it being reported as a coronavirus death. What will be the reaction of the child struggling to live in his fantasy world be? We know what the reaction has been when he is confronted with the truth at a press conference: FAKE NEWS from the NASTY CUTIE PIE!

The only time he is not a child is when he is an adolescent (see Omarosa and the President:  A Case of Arrested Development – Suppose Life Is Not a Journey? August 17, 2018). There is no constructive purpose to be gained by talking about him as if he were an adult. The media is doing America a great disservice by failing to deal with the reality of who he is. It is not fair to judge him by adult standards since he isn’t one.

However, the real world keeps forcing the immature child’s hand. No more down to “zero.” No more miracle cure. No more “gamechanger” drugs because his uncle was a supergenius. No more “Every one of those doctors said, ‘How do you know so much about this. Maybe I have a natural ability” said Donnee Disinfectant. No more Easter Sunday opening.

But wait, if Putin says “The situation is under total control” then it must be under total control just as I said it was months ago even if the new low target is 75,000-100,000 and 3,000/deaths a day is a real possibility.

So let’s look at his past record before turning to his new forecasts.

April 2011: Birtherism

To NBC host Meredith Vieira: “I have people that actually have been studying it and they cannot believe what they’re finding.”
“You have people now down there searching, I mean in Hawaii?” she asked.
“Absolutely. And they cannot believe what they’re finding.”

To ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos: “It’s none of your business right now. We are going to see what happens.”

To Anderson Cooper: “I don’t want to do that right now. It’s not appropriate right now.”

STILL WAITING – has anybody made list of all the “soons” and “we’ll sees”?

October 2016: Trump to Sue All his Women Accusers

At Gettysburg: “Every woman lied when they came forward to hurt my campaign. Total fabrication. The events never happened. Never. All of these liars will be sued after the election is over….”simple phone call…gets them wall-to-wall coverage with virtually no fact-checking ever. It was probably the (Democratic National Committee) and Hillary’s campaign who put forward these liars with their fabricated stories. But we’ll probably find out later through litigation, which we’re so looking forward to.

STILL WAITING – from Gettysburg to the Lincoln Memorial, he is still slinging the bull-trump. Can you imagine him putting himself in a position where he would be obligated to testify? Good thing Fox is going to interview each and every one of them.

Upcoming Events

June: Back to Normal

July: We’re rockin’

Fall: Deep State Indicted

Fall: Deep State proves China responsible

January 20: Arrested by New York, spends night at Rikers.

The countdown continues.

Live Like the Donald Economic Recovery Acts

To succeed, chose your parents well (

The “Live Like the Donald Economic Recovery Acts” are designed to provide every adult American citizen the opportunity to be a successful self-made person just like the current President of the United States. Results are not guaranteed.

The specific measures listed below have a proven record of success. They worked in the case of the present President and they can work for you. All we need is a courageous leader to make the “Live Like the Donald Economic Recovery Acts” a campaign issue for the 2020 elections. The challenge will be to see which candidate claims ownership first. You can’t argue with the success.

So what are the recovery items which need to be made into law?


The Fred Trump $413 Million Line of Credit Act will do exactly what its name states. Every adult American citizen who registers for the Fred Trump $413 Million Line of Credit will receive a $413 million dollar line of credit. There is no registration fee. There is no interest charge. There is no payback required. Instead there is a $413 million line of credit that any registered adult American citizen can use for business purposes.

Please note, this is a line of credit and not a cash payment. Participants must lose the money in a business endeavor before any funds will be disbursed. For example, suppose the applicant loses $100,000 in a restaurant or any small business operation you can think of. Normally a debt of this magnitude would concern the business owner. But not now because this debtor is a registered participant in the Fred Trump $413 million line of credit act.

To draw on the line of credit is simple. The participant simply goes to the bank or financial organization to which one is in debt, presents the Fred Trump Double 0 License to Borrow card and that debt will be taken care of. The financial officer runs the Fred Trump card through the Fred Trump database. Once it is confirmed that the borrower is a registered participant who has not yet drawn the entire $413 million line of credit, the funds are transferred, the debt is paid off, and the line of credit is reduced accordingly.

These funds can only be used to pay off debts to legitimate financial institutions who hold title to the applicants. The credit line cannot be for loans from family, friends, or the Russian mob. They must be legitimate business expenses.

The Fred Trump $413 Million Line of Credit Act will spur business. Suppose you now want to try your hand at a $1,000,000 restaurant. Would the bank lend you the money? Sure! After checking that you still have $412,900,000 left on your line of credit, lending you the money is no risk. So when you lose the $1,000,000, again there is no problem. How many restaurants would you have to own to lose $413,000,000? It is not easy to lose that much money. It can be done though. We have a successful self-made man who is the biggest individual financial loser in American history. Now you can be successful too…and without having to pay money to Trump University to learn the secret to success. All you have to is enroll.


What about personal debt? What about debt for car loans, student loans, home loans, or credit cards? These debts are not covered under the Fred Trump $413 Million Line of Credit. Instead with the Donald Trump Debt Cancellation Act, you can do just what THE DONALD did: walk away from the loan. I don’t know how many times he did this or what amount in total is. Once those numbers are determined they will be built into the legislation the same way the $413 million was into the business line of credit.

This act also will be open to all adult Americans for no fee. By registering under this act, adult Americans will be able to cancel debts to schools, credit card companies, or financial institutions (banks) just as THE DONALD did. Care may be needed to determine which loans should be cancelled depending on what the limits are.


People often are concerned about losing their jobs even in good times. This act does not address losing one’s job because a business went out of business. With the Fred Trump $413 Million Line of Credit Act, no business should go out of business anyway. This act has to do with firing people for cause. This act is for people who are fired for poor job performance or for harassing someone on the job. All that would cease with the application of the Donald Trump Employment Security Act because you can no longer be fired for cause. No matter how inept you are, no matter how incompetent you are, no matter how many people you have groped or harassed, you can’t be fired. This is providing you are adult American citizen registered for no fee under this act.

For example, suppose you are in charge of a project and say everything is under control, everything is fine, when in fact, they are not. Nothing can be done now no matter how inept and incompetent you are because you are protected.

Suppose you tell your boss there are 15 problems on the project but in a day or two they will go down to zero and instead there are over 40,000 problems and counting. No problem. You are registered under the Donald Trump Employment Security Act. You can’t be fired. Amazingly, some people will even praise you for doing a good job worthy of a 10!

Thanks to this act no one will ever be fired again for cause even if they are dumber than a dead pet rock and as inept and incompetent as is humanly possible.


Normally colleges brag when one of their own lands an exalted job like becoming President of the United States. That hasn’t happened so much with the University of Pennsylvania and its renowned Wharton School. Quite the contrary. It almost seems as if it is ashamed that someone so ignorant and lacking in economic knowledge graduated from it.

The question to be asked is how did a person who can’t read a book and who writes at the elementary school level get into Wharton in the first place. For the father to pay the tuition is common. But the question is how much did Fred Trump have to pay to get his son accepted? Obviously, the University of Pennsylvania will never disclose that information nor should it. Obviously also the father never told the son how much he paid either. The answer is probably in either the tax returns of Fred Trump as a donation or in the business records of the Trump Organization as an expense. Of course, even if the amount the father had to pay to get his son in is revealed, that still raises the question of how the son managed to stay in. After all, he is not a very stable genius and practically everyone in the room is smarter than he is unless he is at a morgue or a nursery school with no adults present.

But suppose you don’t have a rich father or mother. And suppose you actually have the credentials and intelligence to qualify on merit to matriculate but can’t for financial reasons. Then what? Under the Fred Trump College Education Act, public college including community college would be free to all qualifying students. This means if you are an adult American and registered in the program and do not require remedial classes to do college level work, you can attend for free the community college in your community or the public college in your state.

The Fred Trump College Education Act does not apply to private schools. If you do not want to use the public swimming pools and prefer a private club instead, you do so on your money and not the taxpayers. If you do not want to use the public tennis courts and prefer a private club instead, you do so on your own money and not the taxpayers. If you do not want to use the public schools and prefer a private school instead, you do so on your own money and not the taxpayers. Everyone knows how important college is to having a successful life provided you are free of student loans. The Fred Trump College Education Act will give all qualifying Americans a chance at a public school college education in their community or state.

In conclusion, the Live Like The Donald Economic Recovery Acts will provide all Americans with the opportunity to live successful lives as self-made people just as they did for THE DONALD even if you don’t have a rich father. We also need to increase our funding for special education so people like Donald Trump can qualify for college on merit.


P.S. The Donald Trump Above the Law Act will give every adult American citizen who registers the right to ignore subpoenas or other legal actions. Why should the President of the United States be the only one who is above law? Individuals will never have to be worried about being sued again.

Will the Democrats Learn from the British Ambassador and Duped-by-Russia Hannity? Probably Not

How do you handle an immature child? For a parent coping with an immature and biological child, the task is a daunting one. One must be on constant alert. It is a time-consuming task. One never knows when the immature child will erupt. One never knows when the immature child will cross a line that is not supposed to be crossed. One never knows when the immature child will wreak havoc.

The challenge is even greater when that immature child is in the body of an adult. Think of a high school or college reunion. Somewhere in the crowd there will be that one person who never outgrew college, who never out grew high school, who never outgrew junior high school. He (or sometimes, she) will still act as the 7th grade smart-aleck-dumb-aleck he was back when he was 13. He may have an adult job, be a spouse and a parent, and normally behave like an adult, but there are those moments, especially when the group dynamic kicks in, when he will be the same immature child he was back when he was 13….and now there is no one to send him to the principal’s office…until he actually breaks the law.

Fred Trump knew he had a problem with Little Donnee Wanee. When the immature child was 13, the father placed him a military school in the vain hope that he would grow up. It did not work. Then he spent good money after bad in the vain attempt that the immature child would succeed as an adult businessperson. That was the equivalent of $413 million down the drain. Instead Little Donnee Wanee became the biggest financial loser in American history.

Still, give credit where credit is due. He was always able to con someone into thinking he was really an adult. He created the character of The Donald to act in political professional wrestling arenas and in phony-baloney reality shows and he convinced many people that The Donald was a real person and not just a disguise.

However, there came a time when he had to function in the real world, in the world of adults, in the world that does not watch Fox. And there he had a problem. Pretty much every with whom he had to work on an adult level quickly realized that Little Donnee Wanee was not an adult, he was an immature child.

In this regard, he was no Tom Hanks (Tom Hanks versus Our Immature Child-President). When 13-year old Tom Hanks became big, he was a level-headed kid. He could read a book. He could explain algebra to an even younger child. He could converse with adults on some topics without coming across as a simple-minded child repeating the few words he knew in an almost airhead manner.

But what was the job Tom Hanks had when he was big? His job was to play like a child which he still was and then to report his insights to adults. He was not put in charge of anything. He did not have an administrative job. He did not have an executive job. If he had been placed in such a position, the scam of adulthood would have been exposed. He would have been revealed as a child posing as an adult.

Something similar happened with the world’s worst manager. The same person who bankrupted an airline, who bankrupted a casino, who bankrupted a hotel, now became the person in the office where the buck stops. His management skills have been on display after a hurricane in Puerto Rico (is that in America?) and on the border. He is just as incapable as President as he was in business. However, in business he realized that he could make money branding himself while outsourcing all the building to others. That option does not exist for the President.  As we now commemorate the 50th anniversary of the landing on the moon, we should realize that if Little Donnee Wanee had been president then we never would have gotten there.

Sometimes the adults in the room tried to contain him as president. They would ignore his directives, remove documents from his desk, and pray that no one took him seriously. Sometimes because he is an immature child with limited attention span those efforts succeeded. Sometimes they did not.

From time to time, various reports would emerge that documented his immaturity, his ignorance, his ineptness. Books would be written about him. Anonymous articles would be published. Baby Donnee Wanee blimps would be flown.

Most recently British Ambassador Kim Darroch was exposed as having told the truth about our immature child president. He wrote the ineptitude and incompetence of the chaotic administration. The administration of Little Donnee Wanee would always be dysfunctional, unpredictable, faction-ridden, clumsy and inept.

The temper tantrums would never cease. There would always be another hissy-fit tweet. Perhaps if Britain had deployed its air forces more effectively George Washington would have been defeated and there never would have been a United States. If we had remained a British colony just a little longer until granted independence, there would have been no need for Canada to burn the White House.

The immature child responded to this exposure exactly as one would expect him to: by proving it true.  The same may be said for his reaction to the pre-publication excerpts from Paul Ryan’s new book. The same may be anticipated for every book to be written about him save for those from one of the Flying Monkeys sworn to take a bullet on behalf of the Wicked Witch of the White House.

In so doing, Little Donnee Wanee also has made it clear what ticks him off the most. When he is exposed as being an immature child trying to pass for an adult he goes ballistic. He erupts. Every time. He fixates on the charges. It consumes him. No matter where in the world he is or what he is doing, if someone challenges him on being the 5 “I” president (an inept, incompetent, immature, illegitimate, idiot), he will drop everything to unleash a hissy-fit tweet.

HELLO Democrats! Are you listening? Are you paying attention? He has broadcast what unnerves him the most. He has shown what gets under his skin. He has shown what rattles him. He hates it when people disparage and make fun of him for being an immature child trying to pass for an adult. It is his Achilles’ heel.

Meanwhile, here we are four years after he descended on the staircase and Democrats still do not have a nickname for him. How is it possible that after years of Little Donnee Wanee assigning insulting nicknames to people, the Democrats do not have a standard slew of names for Bonepsur Boy, for Swamp Builder, for the World’s Worst Manager, for America’s Biggest Financial Loser Ever, for Longtime Democrat and Clinton Supporter, for Our Immature Child President?

The Democrats need to go to the Duped-by-Russian Hannity School of Professional Political Wrestling. Put aside for the moment the individual policies he supports or actions he recommends. Focus instead on the techniques he uses to communicate those policies and actions. Recognize his skill in delivering his message. Observe his methods. Note his success. Remember, Duped-by-Russia Hannity convinced his viewers on the basis on absolutely no evidence whatsoever that Seth Rich was the murdered leaker of DNC emails in 2016. It was “the single biggest fraud, lies, perpetrated on the American people by the media and the Democrats in our history” until, of course, the Deep State conspiracy which is about to be exposed and the real colluders and obstructionists are about to reap their just punishment.


Duped-by-Russia Hannity

Duped-by-Russia Hannity employs several tried and true techniques in the delivery of his message. He is relentlessly on message. He is persistent. He is rigorously repetitive. Sometimes it is hard to tell what day, week, month, or year it is from his monologue since he persistently uses the same words and phrases. If you had a dollar for every time he referred to the “angry Democrats” on Mueller’s team you could retire. Democratic paid for Steele dossier. Unverified Steel dossier. FISA abuses. CORRUPT. CORRUPT. CORRUPT. The biggest corruption scandal in American history. And the guilty ones are panicking now because it is all about to be exposed. Wait till the Flying Monkeys in Congress get through with life-long Republican and decorated-Marine Mueller. It is the Deep State that really is on trial now.

Need-less-to-say, the Democrats have nobody comparable to Duped-by-Russia Hannity. There is no cable host who even comes close to matching him. Lawrence O’Donnell tries but he is no Duped-by-Russia Hannity. And by the time Rachel Maddow has finished one of her essays, Duped-by-Russia Hannity has unleashed a string of assaults that if you missed them then you can tune in tomorrow because he will repeat them. And why Chris Cuomo thinks he is obligated to provide equal time to people who already have a propaganda network is a mystery.

The British Ambassador has exposed the Achilles’ heel of Little Donnee Wanee.

Duped-by-Russia Hannity has developed the weapon to be deployed in such a situation.

The Democrats have been shown what the vulnerability is. The Democrats have been shown how to wield the weapon for the kill. The only question is will the Democrats ever seize the moment. I say, “no.” It will remain a party of no imagination, no metaphors, no story to tell, and no message to thrust again and again into the weak spot of its immature narcissistic foe.

The Cognitive State of the President

It's a Good Life (1961) One of multiple Twilight Zone (and Star Trek) episodes about the Trump presidency

The June 2016 issue of The Atlantic contains two articles relevant to the present discussion about the lack of cognitive abilities of the current President of the United States. The two articles are:

“How Kids Really Succeed,” by Paul Tough
“The Mind of Donald Trump,” by Dan P. McAdams.

The two articles in the same hard copy magazine were not written as part of a single assignment. It is only by chance that the initially separate articles are juxtaposed.

This post will consist of excerpts from the two articles plus some comments of my own. The excerpted portions will not be highlighted in any way. The traditional academic apparatus of endnotes, footnotes, quotation marks, indentation, single spacing will not be adhered to. Instead it will be up to you Dear Reader to determine the origin of the material. While the combined text may not make for the smoothest of blogs, it should suffice to make its case.


Researchers concerned with academic-achievement gaps have begun to study with increasing interest and enthusiasm, a set of personal qualities― often referred to as noncognitive skills, or character strengths. These noncognitive skills tend not be measured in school performance but they often are the defining characteristics of an individual.

As brainy social animals, human beings evolved to be consummate actors whose survival and ability to reproduce depend on the quality of our performances. As Michael D’Antonio writes in his recent biography of Trump, Never Enough, Tom Griffin’s, owner of the Menie Estate near Aberdeen, most vivid recollection of the evening’s negotiations in 2006 pertains to the theatrics. It was as if the golden-haired guest sitting across the table were an actor playing a part on the London stage. “It was Donald Trump playing Donald Trump,” observed Griffin. The same feeling perplexed Mark Singer in the late 1990s when he was working on a profile of Trump for The New Yorker. Singer wondered what went through his mind when he was not playing the public role of Donald Trump. More than even Ronald Reagan, Trump seems supremely cognizant of the fact that he is always acting.

How does a person come to be an actor who is always performing? Where the stage name becomes the permanent name because the person is always on stage? A large and rapidly growing body of research shows that people’s temperament, their characteristic motivations and goals, and their internal conceptions of themselves are powerful predictors of what they will feel, think and do in the future.  Narrowing the focus to the realm of politics, psychologists have recently demonstrated how fundamental features of human personality—such as extroversion and narcissism—shaped the distinctive leadership styles of past U.S. presidents. The question before We the People with this president is “Is there any there there?” Is he an act with no substance? Or how did he get to be the person that he his?

The most important force shaping the development of these noncognitive skills turns out to be a surprising one: stress. Over the past decade neuroscientists have demonstrated with increasing clarity how severe and chronic stress in childhood―what doctors sometimes call toxic stress―leads to physiological and neurological adaptations in children that affect the way their minds and bodies develop and, significantly, the way they function in school.

Fred Trump raised his sons to be tough competitors because if you were not vigilant and fierce, you would never survive. Trump writes, “I wanted to be the toughest kid in the neighborhood.”  Children rely on responses from their parents to help them make sense of the world. More than any other experiences in infancy, these rudimentary interactions called “serve and return” between the parents and the child trigger the development and strengthening of connections among the regions of the brain that control emotion, cognition, language, and memory.

Trumps’ own narrative tells this story. The first chapter as he tells it today, expresses nothing like Bush’s gentle nostalgia or Obama’s curiosity. Instead it is saturated with a sense of danger and a need for toughness. The world cannot be trusted, it is one of toxic stress. Warrior narratives have traditionally been about and for young men. Now in the eighth decade of his life, Trump is still fighting his demons.

Stress can disrupt development of what are known as executive functions. In childhood, and especially in early childhood, this intricate stress-response network is highly sensitive to environmental cues. A highly sensitive stress-response system constant on the lookout for threat can produce patterns of behavior that are self-defeating in school. Toxic stress impedes mature development.

Narcissism stems from a deficiency in early-life mirroring. The parents fail to lovingly reflect back the young child’s own budding grandiosity, leaving the child in desperate need of affirmation from others. Ever since grade school, Trump has wanted to be No. 1.  His need to excel may have crowded out by making it impossible for him to show the kind of weakness and vulnerability that true intimacy typically requires. Not only is he incapable of sympathy and empathy, he considers such emotions the signs of a loser.


An influential study on the long-term effect of a stressful early home life identified 10 categories of childhood trauma. An elevated number has a negative effect on the development of a child’s executive functions and on her ability to learn effectively in school.

When teachers and administrators are confronted with students who find it hard to concentrate, manage their emotions, or deal calmly with provocation, they see them as kids with behavioral problems who need, more than anything, to be disciplined. Talking back and acting up in class are, at least in part, symptoms of a child’s inability to control impulses, de-escalate confrontations, and manage anger and other strong feelings. By his own account, Trump once punched his second-grade music teacher, giving him a black eye.

Trump said about his intimidating high school baseball coach, “Like so many strong guys, Dobias has a tendency to go for the jugular if he smelled weakness. On the other hand, if he senses strength but you didn’t try to undermine him, he treated you like a man.” Trump has never forgotten the lesson he learned from his father and from his teachers at the military academy: The world is a dangerous place. You have to be ready to fight.  As he said in an interview in 1981, “Man is the most vicious of all animals, and life is a series of battles ending in victory or defeat.” There is no synergy. There is no “come let us reason together. There is no win-win. Every day is like another episode on a TV series Survivor where ultimately there can only be one winner.

People, especially those who have experienced significant adversity, are often guided by emotional and psychological and hormonal forces that are far from rational. There are limits to the effectiveness of rewards and punishments in k-12 education for young people whose neurological and psychological development has been shaped by intense stress. Straightforward systems are often especially ineffective.

The situation for such students is not hopeless. Spending a few hours each week in close proximity to a certain kind of teacher can change something about student’s behavior. The environment those teachers created in the classroom, and the messages that environment conveyed, motivated students to start making better decisions. In every school, it seemed, there were certain teachers who were especially good at developing cognitive skills in their students and other teachers who excelled at developing noncognitive skills. But the teachers in the second cohort were not being rewarded for their success with the students.

Trump apparently never had such teachers skilled in the ways of developing noncognitive skills. Or if he did, he was sufficiently set in his ways that nothing could change him. Today he is the same immature undisciplined child he was at age 13 when his father placed him in military school in the vain hope that he would become disciplined. General John Kelly is not his teacher and he readily acknowledges that he cannot change Trump.


Across his lifetime, Donald Trump has exhibited a trait profile that you would not expect of a U.S. president: sky-high extroversion combined with off-the-chart low agreeableness. According to Barbara Res, who in the early 1980s served as vice president in charge of construction of Trump Tower in Manhattan, the emotional core around which Donald Trump’s personality constellates is anger. “He’s not faking it,” she said. Anger may be the operative emotion behind Trump’s high extroversion as a well as his low agreeableness. Anger can fuel malice, but it can also motivate social dominance, stoking a desire to win the adoration of others. Anger permeates his political rhetoric.

The broad social reputation Trump has garnered as a remarkably disagreeable person is based upon a lifetime of widely observed interactions. People low in agreeableness are described as callous, rude, arrogant, and lacking in empathy. The real psychological wild card is Trump’s agreeableness—or lack thereof. There has probably never been a U.S. president as consistently and overtly disagreeable on the public stage as Donald Trump. His public stage is always the professional wrestling arena, he is always on stage, and he is always playing the Donald.

People are mostly motivated not by the material consequences of our actions but by the inherent enjoyment and meaning that those actions bring us, a phenomenon called intrinsic motivation. Most people but not all people. For Trump, “It’s the hunt that I believe I love.” He is always spoiling for a fight. Remember that one of the signal results of toxic-stress exposure is a hyperactive fight-or-flight mechanism. The Republican candidates for president in 2016 never confronted Trump on his terms and he triumphed in the professional wrestling arena on which the nomination process was staged. The Democratic candidate for president in 2016 never confronted Trump on his terms and he triumphed in the professional wrestling arena on which the debates were staged. The former party of Lincoln rolled over like “a little girl” when he fired Mueller, never to stand up to him the way even high-school student Trump stood up to his baseball coach.

So who really is Donald Trump? What is behind the actor’s mask? I can discern little more than narcissistic motivations and a complementary personal narrative about winning at any cost. It is always Donald Trump playing Donald Trump, fighting to win, but never knowing why with the Republican Party, the United States, and the world paying the price.