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Trump: ‘inept,’ ‘clumsy’ and above all ‘insecure’

Trump: ‘inept,’ ‘clumsy’ and above all ‘insecure’
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 28: Ambassador Kim Darroch speaks to guests during the Capitol File 2017 WHCD Welcome Reception at the British Ambassador's Residence on April 28, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Riccardo Savi/Getty Images for Capitol File Magazine) ** OUTS - ELSENT, FPG, CM - OUTS * NM, PH, VA if sourced by CT, LA or MoD ** (Riccardo Savi / Getty Images)

British ambassador Kim Darroch said the White House under President Donald Trump is “inept,” “clumsy,” “uniquely dysfunctional” and could collapse in “disgrace.”

So, what else is new? Sir Kim — “an extraordinarily effective” representative of British interests — decided to resign after these comments were made public, despite support from his government. A shame; he said nothing that much of the world doesn’t already know. Donald J. Trump is “inept,” “clumsy,” and “uniquely dysfunctional," to put it mildly.

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Mr. Darroch's analysis is dead right. Just take stock: The truth is staring us in the face every single day - from Donald Trump's constant lies and attacks on the rule of law and the press; to backward policies on everything from climate change to health care; to unprecedented corruption and many jail-bound cronies; to his reckless, erratic foreign policy, which has accomplished nothing except bringing us closer to a disastrous war.

We can't say we were not warned. In 2016, 50 of the most respected Republican leaders on national security declared that Donald Trump, if elected, would be "the most reckless president in American history."

The group included former CIA director Michael Hayden; Robert Zoellick, the deputy secretary of state for President Reagan; and two former directors of homeland security. Leading conservatives like George Will and Eliot Cohen have condemned President Trump as incompetent.

But Mr. Darroch's assessment included one more description that has been a bit lost in the tumult: that Donald Trump is "insecure."

Lack of judgment, lack of character, lack of experience, lack of integrity and many other shortcomings have been laid at the president's doorstep. Not many have mentioned insecurity.

Yet, telltale evidence of this character flaw has been there from the very beginning. Within hours of his inauguration, the new president was on a warpath when news accounts reported that the crowds in attendance were significantly smaller than Barack Obama's. Soon, Mr. Trump ranted about illegal voters and "immigrants" to suggest that his 3 million vote defeat by Hillary Clinton in the popular vote was rigged (No rigging was found).

Overseeing the first full meeting of his new Cabinet, Mr. Trump rambled on about his many "accomplishments" in his first months in office. Despite achieving little, even with Republican control of Congress, the new president went around the room to seek reassurance from each Cabinet secretary.

One by one, they groveled, offering high praise for the president. Health Secretary Tom Price, soon gone for abuse of office, spoke of Mr. Trump’s "great leadership," while Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, reportedly on the outs over his Census immigration question rationale, went on about "the thrill” he felt helping the president deliver on his campaign promises.

Only Gen. James Mattis, then secretary of defense, had the courage to finesse Mr. Trump's desperate search for flattery. General Mattis paid tribute to the men and women of the armed forces.

Just this spring, Mr. Trump engaged in a re-run of this flattery show, calling on five aides to describe his "demeanor" after a White House collision with Democratic leaders. "Very calm," "very calm," they chirped.

Other signs of Mr. Trump’s insecurity abound. He fires senior officials by “tweet” rather than face them in person. He calls himself “a stable genius” but refuses to release his grades. He terms himself a billionaire but won’t release his tax returns. He spends as much as 60% of his day in “executive time” — largely watching television to see how he is being covered.

He is afraid to hold a real press conference — a serious encounter where he would have to think fast, prove he can react with something more than mono-syllabic attacks and insults. He prefers to meet reporters next to helicopters; with engines roaring, he can shout down or walk away from tough questions.

Experts on handwriting see insecurity in the president's signature. A Pittsburgh expert, Michelle Dresbold, characterizes his angular, up and down scrawl as reflecting a person who is "aggressive, angry, fearful, rigid and uptight."

The timing of Ambassador Darroch's analysis is propitious, coming a few days after the 45th president hijacked a non-partisan national holiday to try to bolster his flagging popularity.

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And why? Because Donald J. Trump is, at bottom, terribly insecure.

Frederic B. Hill (fhill207@gmail.com), a former foreign correspondent for The Baltimore Sun, conducted wargaming exercises on national security issues for the Department of State. He is co-editor with Stephens Broening of “The Life of Kings, The Baltimore Sun and the Golden Age of the American Newspaper.”

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