But every once in a while, Trump unwittingly reveals something important about himself in a tweet. And that happened on Wednesday, with this tweet from Trump himself (bolding is mine):
“You are so lucky to have me as your President,” is, on its face, a remarkable thing for a president to say. In fact, it’s inconceivable that any past president would say that.
Why? Because past presidents have understood that serving as president is both an honor and a public trust. That to be trusted by 330 million Americans with representing their interests both domestically and internationally is a massive gift that should humble anyone who ascends to the office. It is, without question, the highlight and honor of anyone’s life who gets to serve.
Trump, as his tweet on Wednesday makes crystal clear, views things very differently. In his mind, he is doing the country a favor in serving as president. He sees the presidency as an inconvenience — one he is only willing to take on because he believes only he can fix what ails the country.
That’s not my supposition. Trump has said that very thing. Lots of times.
“I loved my previous life. I had so many things going,” Trump told Reuters in a 2017 interview. “This is more work than in my previous life. I thought it would be easier.”
“This thing is costing me a fortune, being president,” Trump said in a speech in California in 2019. “It’s probably costing me from $3 to $5 billion for the privilege of being — and I couldn’t care less—I don’t care. You know if you’re wealthy, it doesn’t matter. I just want to do a great job.”
In an interview with Barstool Sports
earlier this summer, Trump was even more blunt. “The best day in my life in terms of business and life and everything was the day before I announced I was running for president,” he said. “Everything was good. … Now I’m really glad I did but I was treated very unfairly.”
The whole you-kind-of-owe-me idea was also present at the just-concluded Republican National Convention.
“All of this changed dramatically in 2015 when a billionaire named Donald Trump put his own life of luxury on the line,” said Charlie Kirk, the president of a young conservatives group, in the very first speech of the convention. And Trump himself nodded to all that he had given up in his acceptance speech on the final night of the convention; “From the moment I left my former life behind, and a good life it was, I have done nothing but fight for you,” he said.
See, for Trump, being president is an imposition. It took him away from his great life of being rich and famous. And in his mind, very well-liked. “I had a popularity rate … I was close to 100% popular,” he told Barstool Sports. (This is, in fact, totally inaccurate. Trump has never had an approval rating higher than 50%. Ever. In public or private life.)
Being president hasn’t been as fun as Trump had hoped. And it’s been, well, hard! Way harder than being a billionaire reality TV star!
And so, Trump wants to be thanked for taking on this burden. The burden of being president.
Which, honestly, makes sense, because he wants to be thanked for pretty much everything.
In mid-March, as the coronavirus pandemic (that has now killed more than 185,000 Americans) was ramping up in the US, Trump was suggesting that he be praised for his handling of it. “We’ve done a fantastic job,” he said. “The only thing we haven’t done well is to get good press. We’ve done a fantastic job but it hasn’t been appreciated. Even the closing down of the borders, which had never been done, and not only did we close them but we closed it early. The press doesn’t like writing about it.”
The following month, when asked about his response to the virus by reporters, Trump said this: “I believe there were no deaths when I closed up the country. And you should say thank you very much.”
Back in 2018, then-Trump 2020 campaign manager Brad Parscale — he’s since been demoted — appeared in an ad urging viewers to make sure the President was aware of their gratitude to him. “President Trump has achieved more during his time in office than any president in history,” Parscale said in the ad. “We need to let President Trump know that we appreciate what he’s doing for America. I need you to call the number on your screen and deliver a thank you to President Trump.”
And as recently as last month, Trump tweeted this
: “RINO Ben Sasse, who needed my support and endorsement in order to get the Republican nomination for Senate from the GREAT State of Nebraska, has, now that he’s got it (Thank you President T), gone rogue, again. This foolishness plays right into the hands of the Radical Left Dems!”
You get the idea. This is a man who wants to be thanked for literally everything. He has zero sense that the presidency is not about him but rather about the country. He views himself as a great man who has stooped to be president, and expects everyone around him to constantly acknowledge the massive sacrifices he is making.
That view is a radical departure from the way in which the presidency has been seen up until now. It may actually be the most radical idea Trump has.
CNN’s Allison Gordon contributed to this report.