There’s a certain wearying inevitability about narcissistic men who compare themselves with actually great and famous people of the past – and, let’s face it, it’s usually men who do this. Recently, Bill Cosby allegedly compared himself from his jail cell with Nelson Mandela, among others. Our revulsion can be mollified somewhat by the pleasure of the knowledge of just how lead-balloonishly that one will go over at Cosby’s first parole hearing. Let us all pause for a moment to rub our hands together gleefully at the prospect.
But when it comes to Donald Trump, I am at a loss to think of a single great human being he’s compared himself with. I am divided between his ignorance of history and his unwillingness to share a pedestal with anyone else as a possible explanation, but in the end I am inclined to go with the latter.
Before the comment field starts filling up with counterexamples, I need to emphasize the difference between evil men Trump admires and great (or evil) men he compares himself with. There are plenty of evil men (or at the very least men of questionable virtue) that he admires, including Vladimir Putin, Kim Jong Un, Rodrigo Duterte, Xi Jinping, Andrew Jackson, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan … I don’t know about you, but I perceive a pattern starting to emerge. But with whom does he actually compare himself?
I think the answer is nobody. Trump’s ego really doesn’t want to share his glory with another human being. He’s it. He has the infant’s limitless capacity to go on thinking, well into adulthood and old age, that he is indeed the center of the universe. Donald Trump, through the miracle of arrested development and a free and privileged ride in life through every hazard along the way, is the perfect storm, an utterly solipsistic, malignant human being at the very epicenter of all of human power.
If you’re not terrified by this then you’re not paying attention. Either that or you’re a complete fool. What we have right now is a toddler sitting in the middle of the room with daddy’s loaded revolver. Some how, some way, some one needs to take it away from him before he pulls the trigger.
Robert Harrington is an American expat living in Britain. He is a portrait painter.