There were a few different ways President Donald Trump could have gone with his response to the firing of Roseanne Barr by ABC after the comedian made a racist comment about former Obama administration official Valerie Jarrett.
He could have:
- Condemned Roseanne for her views
- Supported her as a victim of the liberal media and the PC police
- Made it about himself
Surprise! He went with option three — as he so often does.
“Bob Iger of ABC called Valerie Jarrett to let her know that ‘ABC does not tolerate comments like those’ made by Roseanne Barr,” Trump tweeted Wednesday afternoon. “Gee, he never called President Donald J. Trump to apologize for the HORRIBLE statements made and said about me on ABC. Maybe I just didn’t get the call?”
This is the second time this week Trump has taken a major national moment and made it about himself. His Memorial Day tweet focused much more on his accomplishments than it did on the troops.
None of this should be surprising. Trump is unapologetically self-centered. His first calculation is, always, “What does this mean for me?” That doesn’t make Trump different from the average person — self-interest is always near or at the top of our minds — but it does separate his statements from how presidents have reacted publicly in the past.
Presidents prior to Trump viewed themselves as a sort of moral compass for the country. They, for the most part, tried to consider the broader message their actions sent. Trump is seemingly unconcerned about those sorts of concerns.
Therefore, the national debate over race occasioned by Roseanne’s tweet translates — to Trump — not as an opportunity to move the country beyond her repugnant views, but rather as a chance to cast himself as the victim of a wicked media double standard.
The Point: Trump isn’t a “we” president,. He’s a “me” president. And that is perhaps his most profound break with presidents past.