I mentioned earlier today that Trump responded to Hillary Clinton saying he had thin skin by immediately huffing that he had the opposite of thin skin, which is of course what someone who is totally secure and unflappable would do. In an interview with Jake Tapper today, notable mostly for continuing his assumption that any Mexican can’t be an unbiased judge because of the wall, he doubled down on that claim.
“Well, I don’t have thin skin,” Trump protested. “I have very strong and thick skin. If you do a report and it’s not necessarily positive but, you’re right, I never complain. I do complain when it’s a lie or when it’s wrong.”
(Which of course, it always is)
Trump then went on to explain how his thick skin and “good temperament” made him have “one of the best-selling books of all-time” and a successful television show.
This is what, I think, will sink him with all but those who feel a tribal connection to him, either through whiteness or general Republicanness (not unrelated!). But anyone who is sort of on the fence about him, emotion-wise. It’s the idea that no matter what anyone says, he has to come back with the most absurd statement, because he can’t possibly have a moment of self-doubt. That’s not a political tactic, although it works politically. It’s who he is.
You saw it with the Trump Steaks nonsense. After Mitt Romney made fun of him for having a steak line that failed, Trump brought out steaks to prove they still existed, on election night! A night he won real legitmate primaries. As Chait pointed out: “His campaign displayed store-bought steaks for the media, not even bothering to fully remove the labels of the store at which they purchased them.”
That’s the thing: anyone with an ounce of security would have said, “You know what- I’m a businessman. In business, you take chances. You win some, and you lose some. I win a lot more, but no one’s perfect. I’m still a billionaire.” He could have then lit a pile of $100 bills on fire on threw the flaming pile at a lackey who would have thanked him for it. That’s how you be an asshole, but one slightly tethered to the real world.
There are a lot of people who love Trump because he says racist things, and that own’t change. But for those who don’t, they’ll see a small, vainglorious toad, who overreacts in bizarre ways to the slightest hints that he is fallible. It’s deeply unattractive, and there is a serious limit to its appeal.