As the most dire political crisis of his presidency unfolded this week, Donald Trump seemed to wallow even more than usual in his own victimhood.
On Twitter—the premier platform for presidential wallowing—he ranted (again, and again, and again, and again) that the House Democrats pursuing an impeachment inquiry were engaging in a “witch hunt,” a “scam,” a campaign of “harassment.” Since 7 a.m. ET this morning, he’s attacked CNN (for misunderstanding his use of punctuation), a pair of reporters at The New York Times and The New Yorker (for treating him unfairly), and Representative Adam Schiff of California (for allegedly lying about him). At another point this week, Trump declared, “There has been no President in the history of our Country who has been treated so badly as I have.”
Some amateur history buffs, including my colleague Peter Nicholas, chose to quibble with the accuracy of this claim, noting that perhaps the four U.S. presidents who have been assassinated in office might beg to differ. But the sentiment Trump was expressing runs to the core of his identity—and it’s likely to shape his approach to the coming impeachment battle.
In the story Trump tells himself, he is a man continually besieged by a cabal of jealous insiders determined to destroy him. This conspiracy of saboteurs has taken different forms over the course of his career. When he was an outer-borough real-estate scion trying to make it in Manhattan, the bad guys were the city’s sneering blue bloods, who didn’t invite him to their parties and rolled their eyes at his theatrics. Then it was the bankers who refused to lend him money, and the media snobs who made fun of his short fingers, and the party hacks who refused to support his presidential-primary bid, and the “deep-state” bureaucrats who tried to subvert his administration.