The Small President
Thursday, December 15, 2016
No personal slight is too small for the next President of the United States. Donald Trump reopened an old feud this week, tweeting, “Has anyone looked at the really poor numbers of @VanityFair Magazine. Way down, big trouble, dead! Graydon Carter, no talent, will be out!”
On January 20th, Donald Trump will be responsible for the balance of power in the world, the economy, the future of energy, and the environment. The CIA says Russia used cyberwarfare sway the outcome of the US election and he doesn’t care. But Trump still can’t get over an old taunt from a magazine journalist.
Trump has carried on a lifelong battle with Carter since 1983, when Carter wrote a profile of Trump for GQ, in which the writer may have been the first to note in print that Trump has small hands, suggesting that another part of his anatomy also is small. Later, as editor of the satirical Spy magazine that folded in 1998, Carter referred to Trump as a “short-fingered vulgarian.”
Vanity Fair has a circulation of just over 1 million. It’s an intelligent, well-written magazine and it’s probably safe to say that few people who voted for Trump have heard of it, let alone read it. But Trump carries on his war with the editor, Graydon Carter, who is anything but a household name.
Two years ago Trump tweeted, “Graydon Carter, whose reign over failing @VanityFair has been a disaster, has acted in two movies–both bombed & got bad reviews.”
Just over a year ago, Trump posted, “I have watched sloppy Graydon Carter fail and close Spy Magazine and now am watching him fail at @VanityFair Magazine. He is a total loser!”
The audience for those tweets was probably two people; Trump and Carter.
Carter, who has a Twitter account but doesn’t tweet, has the ability to compose more than 140 characters. He wrote in the magazine in October, “It can reasonably be argued that the presidency of George W. Bush was an eight-year warm-up act for the final stage of a dumbed-down America: a Trump presidency. You can draw a relatively straight line from the Florida recount of 2000, which took Bush into office, right through to the shambolic Trump campaign. The election of Bush led to the invasion of Iraq, which led to the de-stabilization in the Middle East (Libya, Egypt, Syria), which led to the migrant crisis, which led to European nationalism, Brexit, and, at the tail end of all these disasters, Trump.”
The President-elect, whose everyday appearance in an orange comb-over presents an image of absurdity, can’t get over it whenever someone points out that he’s absurd.
Trump is easily side-tracked by trivia. What he can’t seem to grasp is complexity. Having spent no time considering the evidence of global warming and climate change, he dismisses it as a hoax. He can’t admit that the Russians hacked the election, because he would also have to admit that Vladimir Putin wanted a gullible sap to win — Donald Trump.
Trump has a talent for waging small battles on a large scale. He had a tweetfight with a local president of the United Steelworkers over his inflated claim of saving jobs at Carrier Air Conditioning. He pouted over Twitter about Alec Baldwin’s imitation of him on Saturday Night Live. “Totally biased, not funny.” It was funny and it was biased, which is what parody is supposed to be.
If Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt had lived during the age of Twitter, would they be tweeting over their minor hurts? Trump has already failed the tests of leadership and dignity, and he’s not even president yet. He can’t rise above the petty. He can’t get beyond himself and his infantile need for approval. Graydon Carter made a mistake all those years ago focusing on the size of Trump’s fingers. It’s Trump’s mind that is small.