Donald Trump is an attention addict.
There is nothing the former President likes more than being at the center of buzz, being wanted, being, well, the man.
Which brings me to a key part in a piece from The New York Times outlining Trump’s post-election life at Mar-a-Lago. Here’s the key bit:
“‘This is a special place,’ Mr. Trump said on one such evening in February at his private club. ‘I used to say ‘ground zero’ but after the World Trade Center we don’t use that term anymore. This is the place where everybody wants to be.’”
“For 15 months, a parade of supplicants — senators, governors, congressional leaders and Republican strivers of all stripes — have made the trek to pledge their loyalty and pitch their candidacies. Some have hired Mr. Trump’s advisers, hoping to gain an edge in seeking his endorsement. Some have bought ads that ran only on Fox News in South Florida. Some bear gifts; others dish dirt. Almost everyone parrots his lie that the 2020 election was stolen.”
Let’s leave aside the “ground zero” quote, which, whoa boy.
The key takeaway here is that Trump has, somewhat amazingly, managed to consolidate his power within the Republican Party since losing the 2020 presidential election.
He is the single endorser that really matters in Republican politics these days, with candidates falling all over each other to compete for a kind word. (Days after Trump endorsed J.D. Vance in the Ohio Senate race, Vance is up with a new ad touting that fact.)
The overwhelming image from The New York Times piece – and from everything else we know about Trump post-presidency – is of a king-like figure, surrounded by subjects all positioning themselves to win his favor.
Which is, again, just how Trump wants it.
Consider this: When Trump conceptualized a reality TV show, it was one in which people – including celebrities – would angle for a chance to work for him. (Not with him. For him.) And the entire show revolved around a fake boardroom where contestants would fight each other to try to win his (totally arbitrary) favor. That was his idealized professional work environment. Think about that for a minute.
There are implications of all of this for 2024 as well.
Lost amid all of the “will he or won’t he” is this simple fact: Trump wants to be the center of attention. He wants everyone to have to come to – and through – him to get what they want.
The idea that he would willingly forgo his centrality to the Republican Party is, in light of the lessons of his life, laughable. It’s the same misguided sentiment that led some people, in the middle of Trump’s term, to suggest he wouldn’t run again. It was laughable then. It’s just as laughable now.
Now, that doesn’t mean Trump is a sure thing for a 2024 bid. As I’ve written before, he has significant legal problems that could wind up precluding such a run.
What it does mean is that, at this moment, Trump is sitting exactly where he has always wanted to be: A king among his subjects, doling out his favors in a haphazard manner to supporters beyond thrilled to get even a crumb of approval.