“Fighting For My Love”: Trump as Buttercup — or is He Humperdinck?

The President of the United States had a most unusual thing to say about leaks coming from his administration, which leaks he had previously been understood to abhor:

You have the leaks where people want to love me, and they’re all fighting for my love. Frankly, I’m somewhat honored.

So there we have it: Donald Trump, in his own mind, as Buttercup, aglow in his own beauty, modeling fashionable disinterest as suitors all about him compete for his affections. One wonders who is the handsome young Westley to Trump’s Buttercup — must be Jared Kushner, no? Trump’s been known to wax romantically about his own daughter, so why not keep it in the family?

brideAnd who plays Humperdinck, the antagonist? The grotesque Steve Bannon? One of the now-departed criminals — Mike Flynn or Paul Manafort?

Or is it Trump himself? He is, after all, an unimaginable monster. Note the focus in his deranged quote: “[P]eople want to love me,” Trump says, before realizing that all this jaundiced love, if rhetorically unrequited, would seem more than a little creepy. Catching himself, and referencing his own alleged capacity for love, he betrays himself again: the value of his love is only that others should be fighting for it.

This is malignant narcissism on an order of magnitude never before seen in American life. It’s also buffoonery on an order of magnitude never before seen in American politics. The admixture of the two makes this a tragic comedy (or is it comedic tragedy?) that cries out for some literary analog.

The Princess Bride fits well enough, but I do think that Trump has miscast himself as Buttercup. In truth, Buttercup is all the rest of us — we are the ones, after all, whom all the suitors are fighting for every other November. And Westley would be our peace and our contentment. So Donald Trump is Humperdinck, the mash of id and avarice bent on keeping us apart.