Of all the questions that could be asked about Donald Trump’s presidential campaign after watching last night’s second debate, the one that sticks most in my mind isn’t about that Access Hollywood tape or about his taxes or his casual racism or even his (appalling lack of) qualifications for the job. What had me thinking was why on earth does he even want to be president? He’s clearly not driven by some specific agenda, because he very obviously doesn’t have one beyond xenophobic isolation. The job itself would be a pay cut for him. Maybe it’s ego, but why subject yourself to the will of the people if you think they’re better than they are?
Then it occurred to me that Trump wants to be president because Trump just wants to be president. It’s the impulse of the child let loose in the toy store who wants every single thing they set their eyes on, even if they have absolutely no idea what it is. The presidency is bright and shiny and he wants it. And that’s all. Another trophy to put on the mantel.
And his immaturity isn’t limited to his motivation. His method is that of the bully. Yell loud enough to cow most, yell louder to whip the rest in line, and keep yelling because it’s the only tactic you know. The way he continually loomed behind Clinton last night saud nothing so much as, “I’m bigger, I’m stronger, so I’m right.”
But like the classic bully, he has no idea how to handle things when the bluster doesn’t work. He turns into a petulant whiner, complaining that people are being mean to him, calling people names, slinging insults. He essentially stamps his feet and holds his breath until someone tells him what he wants to hear. Exactly what we want in the face we present to the world.
When I talked about the first debate, I said, “Behold the man.” Turns out I was wrong. We’re beholding a child. One who wants to unwrap all his presents only to get bored with them and then beat you up and take yours because you have them and he doesn’t.
And at 70, it’s too late to expect him to grow up.