Is Trump an egotist or a narcissist? (And yes, it is a distinction with a difference)

Donald Trump's Milwaukee speechAnn Coulter has a new book out — In Trump We Trust: E Pluribus Awesome! — lauding Donald Trump as the savior of a constitutional America. In an excerpt from her book, she makes an interesting statement about Trump’s supposed narcissism:

If Trump hadn’t been a “narcissist”—or, as we now see it, a self‐confident alpha male—he would never have raised all those awesome issues, and certainly would have backed down at the first yelp from the press. Americans would have had to watch in horror as he clarified that what he meant was that Mexico was sending us its David Livingstones and Niels Bohrs, to do the jobs Americans won’t do.

Over the past many years, I’ve often used the word “narcissist” when I’ve been talking about Barack Obama. To my mind, Obama is a classic narcissist: He coldly and clinically views other people as inferior beings to manipulate for his benefit. In other words, narcissists have a personality disorder that is highly dependent on using and abusing to gratify the narcissist’s sense of self and fulfill his goals.

This type of narcissist doesn’t necessarily think he’s so wonderful on his own terms.  Instead, he measures his narcissism less by raising himself up and more by putting others done. Thus, he thinks that people so inferior that they fall into only two categories:  Obstacles that must be destroyed or tools in the box enabling him to achieve his goals.

Narcissists are neither empathetic or sympathetic — that is, they cannot feel or even imagine other people’s emotions at his own emotional level. What they can do, though, from their dispassionate vantage point is reading other people’s emotions extremely well and then use this information to manipulate people into serving their needs or, as if necessary, to destroy people.

I think the above description fits Obama very well. It doesn’t fit Trump, though. As I see it, Trump suffers from a different (and more tolerable) personality disorder. Trump is an egotist — he’s inordinately proud of himself and wants everyone to share in that. He boasts endlessly and likes to surround himself with visible evidence of his success.

There’s no evidence, however, that Trump is a cold fish who is unable to feel other people’s emotions or, more importantly, he believes everyone in the world is inherently inferior to him. He’s boastful, but not arrogant, which is why he has the common touch that leads working class Americans to think this billionaire Manhattanite is one of them.

It’s true that Trump can (and has) hurt people when he’s busy achieving his goals, but hurting them is not a goal in itself. Thus, he may want to build a casino that will put people out of business or run them from their homes, but he doesn’t see forced unemployment as an end in itself. Narcissists are different. Not only do they want the casino, they want those who stand in their way to be punished.

It seems to me that people with definable personality orders are going to be the ones most likely to succeed in modern American politics. If I had to slap a diagnosis on our current president and the two frontrunning wannabes, I’d say that Obama is a malignant narcissist, Hillary is a sociopath, and Trump an egotist. Of the three disorders, the one I’d prefer in the White House is the egotist, who wants others to think well of him, as opposed to the sociopath or the narcissist, both of whom are entirely concerned both with their own needs and their enemies’ downfall.

Scott Adams doesn’t think the way I do, but he’s come to the same end point, which is that Trump the Egotist is inherently more democratic (small “d” democratic) than either Obama or Hillary:

Months ago, when Trump stumbled on his answer about criminal penalties for women who seek illegal abortions, the public went nuts, and Trump immediately corrected his position. That’s direct democracy. Trump heard the opinion of the majority and instantly adopted it.

Consider Trump’s proposal to ban all Muslim immigration. The public felt his position was too extreme, and let him know. Eventually, Trump softened his stance to talk about countries of origin, not religion. The public still wasn’t pleased, so Trump softened again to his current position of “extreme vetting.” That evolution in policy looks like direct democracy to me. The public told Trump what it wanted, and Trump evolved to it.


Consider also Trump’s public persona. We witness that he is using the teleprompter (as advised) and crafting a friendlier version of himself, which is exactly what the public asked of him.

For those afraid that Trump’s receptiveness to the public’s demands would mean a jellyfish in the White House, one who “leads from behind” even more than Obama did (although Obama’s “lead from behind”mantra was a cover for running away), Adams says not to worry:

If you fear direct democracy, I just gave you several reasons to feel comfortable with it. In olden times, direct democracy could lead to an uninformed mob with pitchforks. When you add ignorance to direct democracy, things won’t go well. But in the age of the Internet, direct democracy forces people to virtue-signal, and we see in my examples above that the crowd moves toward kindness as a group.

I think Adams is a bit too optimistic in regard to the group kindness theory. While conservatives are not usually vicious, Leftists are not. A case in point is a Facebook discussion triggered when one of my uber-Lefty Facebook friends posted a video of Al Roker (a black man operating at a rarefied and extremely well-paid level in American media) getting into it with two of his white co-hosts who dared to say that Ryan Lochte wasn’t evil incarnate. The friend added that she approved Roker’s takedown of white privilege.

Because I enjoy tweaking this woman, I very politely suggested that talking heads operate from opinion, rather than fact. I linked to a USA Today article that concluded, after some actual fact-based journalism, that Ryan Lochte wasn’t lying as much as everyone said he was and that the Rio authorities were further from the truth than many believed. (It’s amazing what old-fashioned, “just the facts” journalism can achieve.) The woman who put up the post had to have the last word, so she said, “He still lied,” and I agreed.

What was interesting was what another person (unknown to me) wrote in response to the USA Today article: “BS. Lochte is a white privileged f**ker. Good for Al Roker for nailing him on it.”

If this is “nice” virtue signaling, I’d hate to see its opposite.

Well, actually I did see the opposite this weekend. My husband, daughter, and I were standing on a corner in San Francisco’s Richmond (i.e., Asian and Russian) district, waiting to cross the street. Suddenly, a beat-up Mustang sped by and, as it passed us, a black man, somewhere between 17 and 25, leaned his head out the window and screamed, “Fuck your mother and your daughter!”

Once I got over the sheer horror of apparently being mistaken for my husband’s mother (maybe because all white people look alike), I was thankful he merely yelled at us. With that attitude, it could have been so much worse. I wasn’t the only one thinking this. About an hour later, my daughter confided to me, “You know, Mom, I was really scared we were going to get shot or beaten up.”

Leftist virtue signaling, no matter innocuous they seem to Leftists in academia and the media, too often lead to bad outcomes on the ground.

Unlike Adams who believes in the innate kindness of the Left (which is an Anne-Frankian belief I’ve always rejected), I actually have faith that Trump’s innate BS detector will keep him from wandering too far into the weeds, no matter what the polls say. (And yes, I’m probably deluding myself, but when even Victor Davis Hanson concedes that Trump is better than Hillary, comforting delusions have their place.)