Over the past week or so, President Donald Trump has issued a series of attacks against the late Arizona senator and former Republican presidential candidate John McCain. These included, but have not been limited to, remarks about McCain’s “disgraceful” decision to vote against the repeal of Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act, as well as claims that the former Vietnam prisoner of war graduated “last in his class” at the U.S. Naval Academy, per CNBC.
As opined on Friday by Bloomberg, there could be a reason behind Trump’s repeated bashing of someone who died seven months ago, and it all relates to Trump’s long history of insulting people through his public statements.
In his latest op-ed, Bloomberg columnist Jonathan Bernstein prefaced his piece by saying that there have been multiple theories as to why Trump has been insulting McCain since last week, including one that suggested the president might have been triggered by a rerun of Saturday Night Live. However, Bernstein explained that it’s a common “mistake” for people, even for those who can be considered as clever, to try to make sense of Trump’s “seemingly irrational” actions by coming up with some form of “brilliant logic.”
“[T]he best explanation for most of Trump’s actions, and certainly for the most obviously self-destructive ones, is that there’s nothing strategic going on; he’s acting on instinct,” Bernstein wrote.
Building on the above observation, Bernstein cited a separate Bloomberg op-ed from Timothy O’Brien, who wrote on Thursday that Trump’s tendency to insult people has been documented for decades. O’Brien cited the example of Trump’s old rival in the real estate business, Leona Helmsley, whom he referred to in a 1990 interview as a “living nightmare” and a “truly evil human being.” He also brought up Trump’s past comments about a variety of public figures, from Olympic figure skater Katarina Witt, who was described as having a “bad complexion” and a build akin to a football linebacker, to New York Congressman Jerry Nadler, who was called “one of the most egregious hacks” in modern-day politics.
In addition to theorizing that Donald Trump’s attacks on John McCain are an instinctive, rather than strategic move on Trump’s part, Bernstein also wrote that Trump has fallen into a common trap for a U.S. president by becoming overconfident in his abilities due to his belief that he beat the odds and silenced the doubters by being sworn into office.
In conclusion, Bernstein opined that relying on instinct and disregarding other people’s advice is especially dangerous when it comes to a president like Trump, as “good” presidents tend to recognize these issues and work on addressing their weak points or avoiding past mistakes. He added that Trump doesn’t seem to have such self-awareness, which means he will likely keep “doing what he’s always done” and ignoring whatever criticism may come his way, regardless of the number of things that may be “[going] wrong” with his presidency.