As I mentioned on a web board I’m pretty fond of, I’m starting to think the Trump’s Ego argument is faulty, along with any strategy aimed at exploiting it.
The basic idea is that Trump is so egotistical it’ll lead to missteps and errors that a savvy enough opponent could exploit. It’s predicated on the assumption that Trump himself is completely un-self-aware; that the man is so completely lost in his own narcissism that he probably can’t find his way to the bathroom each morning. Nearly every assumption I’ve seen written based on it has fallen flat, especially those that assume he’ll come into conflict with the Republican Party.
Or, to put this another way:
Donald Trump had to agree to this.
Stop and think about that. Pro-wrestling is fake, as any three-year-old or above will tell you. The character of Stone Cold Steve Austin is built from the ground up as a raging redneck anti-authoritarian. Trump has spent his entire career, and probably most of his life in general, building himself up to be an authority figure. You can stop here and say, “But he was paid to do this!” and you’d almost certainly be right, even if Trump is pretty friendly with the McMahon family et al (he did, after all, appoint Linda McMahon to head the Small Business Administration – one of his few genuinely good appointments, in my opinion).
Here’s the thing though: According to Austin himself, that whole thing was not planned in advance. According to a Men’s Journal interview from earlier this year, Vince McMahon asked Trump to go through with it at the very last second. Trump went over his own advisor and said yes. In other words, he volunteered for this. He volunteered to be humiliated in front of a screaming crowd of 80,000 people that ate it up.
That is not the action of a man so egomaniacal that you can count on it for strategic purposes, as Hillary Clinton did. There’s almost certainly something wrong with him, sure; it takes a special kind of crazy to run for president, let alone to go against a field of nearly thirty other candidates between both parties, to subvert longstanding conservative movement traditions and icons, to (probably) collaborate with a rival nation, and to pander to the most unpleasant elements of his base while selling a false bill of goods to the rest. That’s frickin’ insane no matter how you slice it.
But I don’t think I buy into the idea of Trump being the narcissistic blowhard he plays on TV and social media. Whatever he really is, I’m not entirely sure, but it’s someone cynical and smart enough to employ smokescreen tactics almost 24/7 – every single offensive comment on Twitter, for instance – while everyone else is dumb enough to think they can use him for their own ends.
As I’ve written before, kayfabe is a thing and Trump’s done a bang-up job of figuring out how to use it.