As rare as impeachments may be, today’s impeachment of Donald Trump, president of the United States, for high crimes and misdemeanors was pretty much inevitable.
It was inevitable because of Trump himself, his very character, whose essential nature many who now support him have long understood. As Senator Ted Cruz put it in May 2016, Trump is a “narcissist at a level I don’t think this country has ever seen.” Just this year, Senator Lindsey Graham tried to excuse Trump’s racist, vitriolic attacks on congresswomen of color as “more narcissism than anything else.” “That’s just the way he is,” Graham said.
Indeed, that is the way he is. As I’ve explained at length in this magazine, Trump’s exceptional narcissism defines him, and it’s what makes him wholly unfit for his job. “The fundamental life goal” of an extreme narcissist, as one psychologist has put it, “is to promote the greatness of the self, for all to see.” And that’s Trump, to the point of absurdity, mendacity, even delusion: Calling reporters pretending to be “John Barron,” a fake PR man, to brag about his wealth and sexual exploits; lying about the size of his inauguration crowd; asserting that Robert Mueller’s report provided him with “complete and total exoneration” and found “no obstruction”; claiming that his July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was “pitch perfect” and that the whistle-blower “got the conversation almost completely wrong”—not to mention the thousands of other lies that have been cataloged over the course of his presidency. So narcissistic is Trump that he attempts not merely to con others, but to con himself, to assure himself of his greatness. Cruz again nailed it in 2016: Trump is a “pathological liar” who “doesn’t know the difference between truth and lies.”