The evening news was preempted last night by the semi-regular press conferences of “President” Trump, in which he and his acolytes report on the state of the pandemic. I watched the whole thing, repulsed as I was by the man, because I was also fascinated by his language. As usual, his speech was larded with self-praise, denigration of the press, exaggerated claims and—what really struck me—the repeated use of hyperbolic adjectives like “incredible,” “fantastic”, “tremendous”, “wonderful”, “amazing” and “great.” (The adjectives were applied to those responding to the pandemic, but also to his pals in general, like Rand Paul, who now appears to be infected.)
I don’t think for a minute that Trump means what he says. Yes, the response of doctors and the National Guard has been admirable, but do you really think Trump cares enough about the issue to praise people sincerely? I don’t: I think he’s thinking only of himself. If he really cared about this crisis, he would have gotten ahead of it a long time ago, avoided minimizing it, and taken the advice of the experts. What Trump is worried about most is what he sees when he looks in the mirror.
My question is this, and it’s a psychological one: “Why is Trump so liberal in his use of these hyperbolic adjectives?” Does he think that by using them he’s going to get people on his side, people who think that he’s sincere? What about the man’s pathology prompts him to over-praise in this way, and then, when someone falls from grace, turn his adjectives into pejoratives? All I know is that watching him makes me ill, like an extended vision of Narcissism on Parade, and one of the worst parts is the insincerity instantiated by his fulsome words of praise.
(The other thing that struck me was his unnecessary antagonism toward the press last night. They were asking reasonable questions, and he went out of his way to diss both the press and the reporters.)