President Donald Trump has revealed himself to be the rarest of creatures: a narcissist who apparently does not own a mirror.
How else to explain the tweets he chose to send out Thursday morning, amid news reports that some deranged person or people sent yet more explosive devices to high-profile critics of the president? With the addition of film star Robert De Niro and former Vice President Joe Biden, the list of those who have been targeted is up to nine people, plus CNN.
The properly presidential response, of course, would be to condemn whoever is doing this and to call for caution on the part of postal workers and others who might be endangered. But Trump’s first tweet of the day was about his own sense of victimhood in the backwash of a devastating story the New York Times had written about his disturbingly sloppy practice of making personal phone calls that intelligence officials say are being monitored by the Chinese and Russians:
Trump tweeted, “The so-called experts on Trump over at the New York Times wrote a long and boring article on my cellphone usage that is so incorrect I do not have time here to correct it. I only use Government Phones, and have only one seldom used government cell phone. Story is soooo wrong!”
Twenty-four minutes later, he told us he had found who is largely to blame for the bombs:
Trump tweeted, “A very big part of the Anger we see today in our society is caused by the purposely false and inaccurate reporting of the Mainstream Media that I refer to as Fake News. It has gotten so bad and hateful that it is beyond description. Mainstream Media must clean up its act, FAST!”
What has the mainstream media done to stoke anger at a list of victims that so far includes not only De Niro and Biden but also former president Barack Obama, Bill and Hillary Clinton, Rep. Maxine Waters, D-California, former Attorney General Eric Holder, former CIA director John O. Brennan and Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Florida?
The one thing they all have in common is that they are frequent targets of the president’s wrath and ridicule. What’s more, he has regularly celebrated violent acts on the part of his supporters — such as his declaration last week that Rep. Greg Gianforte, R-Montana, who last year pleaded guilty to assaulting a journalist, was “my kind of — my guy.” And the president has grinned with satisfaction as his frenzied fan base has chanted at rallies that Trump critics who are accused of no crime should be put in prison.
The fact is, we have no idea yet who is responsible for these pipe bombs, or what their motives might be. There have been things done in recent weeks that reflect poorly on both the left and the right. But when it comes to looking for a culprit who is stoking this climate, Trump should first find a mirror somewhere and take a peek in it. And then he should consider what he could do to stop the escalation of violence and change the toxic environment surrounding it.
What this disturbing week has shown us is that our democracy is desperately in need of adult supervision. Instead, we are being led by a president who has all the impulse control of a toddler who has missed his nap. It is time to grow up, Mr. President. These are dangerous times, and you are making them more so.
Karen Tumulty is a Washington Post columnist covering national politics.
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