At MSNBC, it isn’t hard to find Bush-era Republicans who are vehement critics of President Donald Trump—and one of them is Elise Jordan, who was a speechwriter for Condoleezza Rice (secretary of state under the George W. Bush Administration) and is now a Time Magazine contributor and frequent MSNBC guest. Jordan, true to form, was quite critical of the president during an October 26 appearance on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe”—asserting that Trump is promoting “victimhood culture.” In the past, Jordan explained to hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski, she criticized Democrats for having a message of victimhood rather than a message of empowerment. But these days, according to Jordan, Trump dominates the victimhood narrative. And, to be sure, the president loves to paint himself as a target of endless, nonstop persecution.
Trump is great at playing the role of the bully, but he is also relentless when it comes to painting himself as a victim. Here are five examples of the president playing the victim card rather than engaging in a meaningful discussion.
1. Trump Paints Himself as a Victim of Robert Mueller
In countless Twitter posts, Trump has characterized Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller’s Russia-related investigation as a Democratic “witch hunt” aimed at his presidency. One of his favorite phrases to use in connection with Mueller’s probe is “13 angry Democrats.” But Trump neglects to mention that Mueller is a lifelong Republican and a right-wing conservative who was appointed to head the FBI by none other than President George W. Bush.
In a typical May 29 tweet, Trump tried to discredit Mueller when he posted, “The 13 Angry Democrats (plus people who worked 8 years for Obama) working on the rigged Russia Witch Hunt, will be MEDDLING with the mid-term elections, especially now that Republicans (stay tough!) are taking the lead in Polls. There was no Collusion, except by the Democrats!”
2. Trump Views Paul Manafort Prosecution as an Attack on His Presidency
One can learn a lot about Trump’s tactics by reading his 1987 book “The Art of the Deal”—including his mastery of playing the victim card. By claiming victimization, Trump explained 31 years ago, he could justify attacking his perceived enemies. Trump wrote, “When people treat me badly or unfairly or try to take advantage of me, my general attitude, all my life, has been to fight back very hard.” And that play-the-victim approach is evident whenever Trump discusses the legal problems of his former campaign manager Paul Manafort, who was convicted of eight felony counts (including bank fraud) on August 21 and is now cooperating in Mueller’s investigation.
In a June 3 tweet, Trump complained that former FBI Director James Comey victimized Trump by not telling him that Manafort was under investigation. Trump posted, “We should have been told that Comey and the boys were doing a number on (Manafort), and he wouldn’t have been hired.”
3. Trump Demanded Apology from Disney Chief Bob Iger
Earlier this year, ABC canceled the sitcom “Roseanne” in response to a racist tweet in which the show’s star, Roseanne Arnold, compared Valerie Jarrett (former senior advisor to President Barack Obama) to an ape. Bob Iger, Disney’s chief executive, contacted Jarrett to apologize—and Trump demanded to know why Iger wasn’t apologizing to him for anti-Trump statements from ABC personalities. On Twitter, Trump complained, “Gee, he never called President Donald J. Trump to apologize for the HORRIBLE statements made and said about me on ABC.”
4. Trump Views Himself as Victim of a New York Times Vendetta
In a democracy, the role of the media is to serve as a watchdog and scrutinize politicians—not serve as their press agents. But to Trump, the scrutiny of the New York Times amounts to nonstop persecution. Trump showed both his narcissism and his sense of victimhood when he asserted, “The New York Times essentially apologized after I won the election because their coverage was so bad—and it was so wrong, and they were losing so many subscribers that they practically apologized.”
The New York Times never apologized to Trump for its 2016 election coverage because no apology was owed. They were simply doing their jobs. And their scrutiny of presidents didn’t start with Trump—no matter how much he thinks it did.
5. Trump Sees Himself as the Real Victim of Hurricane Maria—Not the 2975 Fatalities
Based on research by George Washington University, the death toll from Hurricane Maria was revised from 64 to 2975 in September—and Trump immediately made the tragedy about himself. San Juan Mayor Carmen YulÃn Cruz was appalled when, on September 18, Trump posted on Twitter, “3000 people did not die in the two hurricanes that hit Puerto Rico. When I left the island, AFTER the storm had hit, they had anywhere from 6 to 18 deaths. As time went by, it did not go up that much. Then, a long time later, they started to report really large numbers, like 3000.”
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