With Donald Trump occupying to Oval Office, it’s easy to fall down an endless hole of scrutinizing his every move for some deeper, more profound motivation. Is he appeasing the urgings of his white nationalist base? Enacting some 13-dimensional political master stroke that only a select few YouTube channels and Reddit boards understand? Is he kompromat???
But more often than not, the explanation is much more simple: Donald Trump is, and has always been, a dickhead. The kind of jerk who is mean for no reason other than the fact that he has shit for brains, and even more shit for a heart.
That point is illustrated perfectly by one of the president’s former top lieutenants, onetime Trump Organization vice president Barbara Res. In an essay for the New York Daily News on Wednesday, Res detailed what she described as a fairly typical Trump interaction.
On this particular day, the architect had come to Donald Trump’s office to show him what the interior of the residential elevator cabs would look like.
Trump looked at the panels where the buttons you push to reach a floor were located. He noticed that next to each number were some little dots.
“What’s this?” Trump asked.
“Braille,” the architect replied.
Trump told the architect to take it off, get rid of it.
“We can’t,” the architect said, “It’s the law.”
“Get rid of the (expletive) braille. No blind people are going to live in Trump Tower. Just do it,” Trump yelled back, calling him weak.
The more the architect protested, the angrier Trump got. Donald liked to pick on this guy. As a general rule, Trump thought architects and engineers were weak as compared to construction people. And he loved to torment weak people.
But did he think the architect would remove the Braille from the panels? Never.
Res’ point—which she fleshes out later in her essay—is that allegations made to journalist Bob Woodward describing how the president’s aides repeatedly prevented him from enacting particularly harebrained policies are not only credible, they’re part of Trump’s basic modus operandi. Res’ essay shows that not only has Trump always issued crazy edicts and told insane whoppers, but that he knew full well while doing so that his staff would ultimately keep him relatively in check, even if he’d never actually admit it himself.
But her anecdote here illustrates an even more fundamental truth about Trump. At his core, he has always been both an unapologetic asshole who delights in bullying the weak, and a coward who knows full well that his love of being cruel for no reason is nothing more than a facade covering his desperate need to feel in control.