Details emerging about President Donald Trump’s White House, be they from Bob Woodward’s new book or the near-daily leaks gifted to Washington reporters, reveal the unsurprising truth that Trump is unfit for the office he now holds.
But perhaps the most dangerous of all his shortcomings is the president’s inability to empathize, which Heather Digby Parton notes in a piece for Salon as she compares Trump to President Richard Nixon.
> Nixon's flaws in that regard are well-known. The man mastered politics and policy but he was a cold fish. The fact that he climbed as high as he did with such a prickly personality was a testament to his perseverance and ambition. But Donald Trump is something else again. His inability to care about anything but himself is so glaring and obvious that it's pathological.
> Woodward's book is full of examples of Trump being unable to compromise, apologize, change course or otherwise behave like a mature adult because he sees anything less than total dominance as weakness. And since he is so often a failure, and cannot admit it, he simply lies and says that he actually won.
Most recently, Trump showcased this pathology while speaking of Hurricane Florence, which has now begun its assault on the southern East Coast, and throwing in a few comments on the “incredibly successful” job his administration did handling Hurricane Maria last year.
Nearly 3,000 people died in the aftermath of that hurricane on the island of Puerto Rico, but Trump had no words for those who suffered in its wake — only praise for himself and his people.
> During the campaign, when asked if he had ever asked for forgiveness, Trump memorably replied, "I like to be good. I don't like to have to ask for forgiveness. And I am good. I don't do a lot of things that are bad." When he was forced to make the one and only apology he's ever made (for his crude comments on the "Access Hollywood" recording) he apparently made a promise to himself to never do it again. Woodward has him railing at former White House staff secretary Rob Porter for convincing him to give a mildly conciliatory speech after the Nazi marches in Charlottesville:
> That was the biggest f---ing mistake I’ve made,” he tells Porter. “You never make those concessions. You never apologize. I didn’t do anything wrong in the first place. Why look weak?"
But Trump has been Trump since he first entered the scene — both as a real estate mogul and in 2015 when he joined the presidential race.
> He made fun of a disabled journalist, insulted women as being too ugly for him to assault, degraded Gold Star parents, calls African-American women "low IQ" -- the list goes on and on and on. The president's behavior toward the widow of Army Sgt. La David Johnson, who was killed in Niger last fall, was a perfect example. He failed to offer comforting words and then petulantly defended himself on Twitter, bringing down a barrage of abuse from his followers on the grieving widow at the worst moment of her life.
> Last month he showed similar pique when at first he refused to keep the White House flag at half-mast to honor the late Sen. John McCain and only belatedly allowed his staff to put out a mildly laudatory statement in his name. McCain had not invited Trump to speak at his funeral, largely because the two men had disliked each other greatly for a variety of reasons, not least of which was Trump's nasty comment about McCain's POW history. We can also assume that the McCain family was terrified of having the president speak on such a solemn occasion because he is incapable of being dignified.
The examples are near endless with President Trump — Parton makes note of several more.
> We talk a lot about Trump's egomania, dishonesty and incompetence, which are dangerous traits when it comes to any president. But, like Nixon before him, he also has some serious character defects. He is fundamentally bereft of empathy and human compassion, which may be the most disqualifying characteristic of all.