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Outsiders vs. Insiders: Trump’s need for approval is not hindering his presidency in the slightest

Is President Donald Trump’s psychological need to be liked hurting his presidency?

In observing Donald Trump’s fascinating candidacy throughout the 2016 campaign a few things became evident from the get-go. First, Trump wasn’t running solely to satiate his own ego; he clearly saw it as a way to serve Donald Trumpthe country he loves and give back in part for all the success he’s enjoyed in his life.

Second, Trump played the media into providing him billions’ worth of free coverage. Perhaps Trump knew it already or at the very least recognized it early but the first-time candidate was a ratings generating machine. Ever since his very first response to the very first question in the very first Republican debate Trump understood that answering directly and injecting his unique personality into the mix would equate to gobs of media exposure, positive and otherwise.

Lastly, as time went on it was clear Trump had an intense craving to be liked.

How so, many probably wonder. Trump loved his rallies but he was also judicious after saying something nasty about someone to qualify it later on and be careful not to play it out too far lest he come across as the wrong kind of mean.

No doubt some will disagree with this assertion, but Trump eventually tried to make nice with all his enemies – after he won, of course. First there was the détente with Ted Cruz reached last September when the Texas Senator finally endorsed Trump and then subsequently spent a day meeting with the president-elect at Trump Tower in November to provide “advice.” They’ve been fine ever since.

Then Trump softened his tone considerably against “Crooked” Hillary Clinton, claiming he wasn’t going to use the nickname any longer or pursue a campaign promise to prosecute her and “lock her up,” disappointing millions of supporters in the process.

Some would argue Trump regrets that decision now, but it was obviously made to provide a conciliatory impression to the public. Trump the tough-talking, never-back-down from a fight rhetorical street brawler was in reality a softy.

That observation is certainly proving true these days as Trump tries to corral the herd of cats known as the Republican congressional delegation. In the past couple months Trump has offered stern criticism for the Democrats but also the different factions in his own party. And maybe because everyone knows Trump really needs to be liked, they’re not cooperating.

David M. Drucker of the Washington Examiner reports, “Some Republican insiders fault missteps by [Speaker Paul] Ryan and the president. But in interviews with about a dozen current and former House Republicans, and current and former House GOP aides, most of the blame was heaped on members.

“Too many arrived in Washington during the Obama era, and remain trapped in an opposition mindset bent on obstruction. Old school Republicans say it's a marked difference from the get-things-done approach that predominated under GOP majorities that governed from 1995-2007.”

In other words, the media’s “bombastic” strongman doesn’t intimidate the troops. Some great military leaders of the past actually didn’t seek or want the adoration of their fighting men – George S. Patton comes to mind immediately – but Trump isn’t like them. He may talk tough but deep down he wants everyone’s admiration.

Why do you think he’s so focused on polls and TV ratings? Trump wants to see that his actions are gaining new converts or maintaining his popularity. He’s also gone out of his way to make chums with a variety of foreign leaders to achieve the same effect, even suggesting his personal involvement and good relationships could heal centuries’ old quarrels like the Arab-Israeli conflict.

I’ve come to like and appreciate Donald Trump but I’m skeptical he alone can bridge those differences. He may be a good guy but that doesn’t mean the person sitting opposite him at the negotiating table harbors the same feelings and mutual respect. Trump can’t alter human nature and some things can’t be won through persuasion or friendly offerings.

Some of Trump’s critics think his optimistic nature – and that of his backers – is actually harming his presidency.

Ben Shapiro wrote in National Review, “… Trump can get away with virtually anything, and those who cheer him on will continue to cheer him on. Like acolytes of Barack Obama, they celebrate Trump’s mere presence. They don’t believe that all politicians lie. They believe that all politicians except for Trump lie. Hence the deep desire to shade Trump’s obvious falsehoods and stupidities into areas of defensible gray.

“When Trump says that Obama wiretapped him, it’s not enough to shrug your shoulders and say that all politicians make outrageous claims about their opponents (half-true); Trump’s cheerleaders instead say that eventually Trump will be proved right. And who are you to doubt Trump’s language and ask for more specificity? Some sort of sell-out?”

Most conservatives know Shapiro was a dedicated #NeverTrumper who questioned the Republican candidate at every turn, so his current criticisms of the president and his followers should probably be taken with a grain of salt.

In his piece Shapiro does make some good points, though it could easily be argued any president or any leader will carry along die-hards who would willingly fall at his feet no matter what he does. It was certainly true of Obama and George W. Bush, the previous Republican president who still maintained the approval of about a quarter of the voters even after selling out on amnesty and big government bailouts, not to mention the quagmire that was the Iraq War.

If you still liked Bush after all of that, you are a supporter through and through. Those people would follow Bush into the depths of hades and offer him their snow cone to cool him off.

Trump’s need to be liked has likewise led to a healthy overabundance of contradictory promises that could not all be kept. But it’s a little extreme for Shapiro to assert that Trump’s backers give him a pass for the “lies” (as he calls it) or exaggerations. That’s far from the truth. We just know there’s more to it than the Trump’s words on the surface.

Again, it’s because Trump wants to please everyone. All politicians say they intend to represent every constituent but that’s a “lie” too. I doubt Hillary Clinton gave a hoot about what the “deplorables” wanted and Obama definitely didn’t pay much credence to the calls of social conservatives to protect innocent unborn life or preserve traditional marriage.

In fact, Trump’s desire to unravel Obama’s legacy is part of what drives him -- and his supporters.

Niall Stanage of The Hill reports, “President Trump is going in with all guns blazing in an effort to eradicate Barack Obama’s legacy.

“The push encompasses everything from the attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to unwinding smaller initiatives that are primarily identified with former first lady Michelle Obama…

“While Trump defenders argue that there is nothing unusual about a new president of one party moving in a sharply different direction from his predecessor, voices within the Obama camp characterize the Trump approach as petty, especially in relation to the Let Girls Learn initiative and the school meal standards.”

Stanage’s article indicates the Trump administration isn’t changing the substance of the Obama initiatives as much as they’re giving them new names. I’d argue it’s both, since Obama and the Democrats have a different worldview, one where the elites make all the decisions for everybody because they’re…well, “elite.”

It’s clear Trump represents a change from Obama and wants to put his stamp on the positive things that are occurring in the country. Part of it is due to his intrinsic desire to be liked and appreciated; part of it is because a new direction is desperately needed. America wins in either scenario.

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