Trump continues to be quite easy to understand, indeed virtually transparent: he's a toxic narcissist. It explains everything from day one. We're just so profoundly unfamiliar with that personality ending up in that role, it shocks people over & over & over again.
But, like, of COURSE his only lens into the election is who supported him & who didn't, or what the results say about him. Of COURSE his only lens into media is who praises him & who doesn't. Of COURSE his only lens into politics & policymaking is whether they make him look good.
And the next thing? No matter how serious it is, whether a school shooting or a potential war, he will, I promise you, treat it exactly the same way. It will be about him: what it says about him, how it makes him look, who's with him or against him.
The shock comes from our implicit belief (based on interacting with normal people) that there's another level, that there's some subject, some set of events, that could jolt Trump out of his myopia & cause him to grapple with the actual weight/significance of the moment. But ...
... there isn't. Not disease, not war, nothing. The point is he's *incapable* of another level. That's what toxic narcissism means! There is nothing exogenous that can or will change that about him. What you see is what you get, and will get, as long as he's in power.
I really think everyone -- fellow members of his party, Dems, the media -- would treat Trump differently if they could truly internalize that fact, as difficult as it is. It would change what they expect from him, how they react to him. It would mercifully rid us of pretense.
OK, one more thought in this thread. Regarding Trump's "strategy" of doubling down on racism, xenophobia, nationalism, and general aggression for the midterms - it's only a "strategy" in the mind of pundits. For Trump, it is literally all he is capable of. There's no real choice.
All he knows is to double down, to attack twice as hard. He is incapable of concession, even tactical or strategic concession. He's incapable of strategy altogether! He does what he does and will do it whether or not it "works" because he can't do otherwise.
What's fascinating is that the GOP has tied itself so closely to Trump that it has effectively adopted his personality. It is now a party of malignant narcissism, a tapestry of myopic resentments. So it can no longer make strategic decisions either! It must follow him.
All of which is to say, Trump & the GOP are now tied, inextricably, to the only approach of which Trump is capable: white nationalism in policy, maximal aggression in politics. Don't get me wrong: it might work! It's worked pretty well so far. But whether it works or not ...
... it is not strategic, not one approach picked from alternatives. No one gamed this out. It's just the inevitable, unavoidable consequence of the deal the party has made with Trump. They're all locked in now, along for the ride on the runaway Trump Train, hoping for the best.
You can follow David Roberts.