At certain times Donald Trump has seemed like a budding authoritarian – a corrupt Nixon – a rabble-rousing populist or a big business corporatist.
But as Trump has settled into his White House role he has given a series of long interviews and when you study the transcripts it becomes clear that fundamentally he is none of these things.
At base Trump is an infantalist.
There are three tasks that most mature adults have sort of figured out by the time they hit 25.
Trump has mastered none of them.
Immaturity is becoming the dominant note of his presidency – lack of self-control his leitmotif.
First most adults have learned to sit still.
But mentally Trump is still a 7-year-old boy who is bouncing around the classroom.
Trump’s answers in these interviews are not very long — 200 words at the high end — but he will typically flit through four or five topics before ending up with how unfair the press is to him.
His inability to focus his attention makes it hard for him to learn and master facts.
He is ill informed about his own policies and tramples his own talking points.
It makes it hard to control his mouth.
On an impulse he will promise a tax reform when his staff has done little of the actual work.
Second most people of drinking age have achieved some accurate sense of themselves – some internal criteria to measure their own merits and demerits.
But Trump seems to need perpetual outside approval to stabilize his sense of self – so he is perpetually desperate for approval – telling heroic fabulist tales about himself.