Through the years I’ve heard US presidents called many things, some nicer than others. But when it comes to the current president, one label I keep hearing is ‘toddler.’ I usually jokingly throw in that such a label is an insult to toddlers. And I do know toddlers; I nanny one, raised two children through that stage and have other toddlers in my life. So I thought it might be interesting to consult the experts on just what characteristics toddlers possess and how closely our president fits the toddler mode. So here goes:
Toddlers sometimes get frustrated because they do not have the language skills to adequately express themselves. By the age of three, most toddlers will be able to hold conversations of two or three sentences.
Trump claimed that most politicians fail because “they don’t know how to speak properly.” That sentence, by the way, is one of his better ones. After all, he does, apparently, have the ‘best words.’ Post Charlottesville, Trump defended his non-reaction to white supremacists by saying, “I said everything. I hit ’em with ‘neo-Nazis.’ I hit ’em with everything...I got ’em all in there. Let’s see: Yeah, KKK. We have KKK. I got ’em all.”
In his remarks at the prayer breakfast which came early in what he likes to call his presidency, here is one train of thought among many that derailed: “So true. So true. I said to the agent, I’m sorry. The only thing more—I actually got on the phone and fired him myself because he said, you don’t want to do it. I said, listen—but I really fired him after it became the number one show. It became so successful, and he wanted a commission, and he didn’t want to do it. That’s what I really said.” He’s talking about the Apprentice, but that’s not immediately clear. There are hundreds of other examples of Trump’s not ‘speaking properly.’ Just look at any speeches where he veers from the safety of the teleprompter or carefully prepared notes, and you’ll hear evidence of how far his language skills haven’t progressed. You need only look at the reactions of his cabinet members when they share a stage with him; they look like the Beano didn’t quite do its job. Never mind the two or three sentences the older toddlers should master; in many of his speeches, I challenge you to find a single complete sentence.
Toddlers throw temper tantrums when frustrated and experience mood swings.
Where in this description do we NOT see Trump? His tantrums are usually, but not exclusively, Twitter rants. And these include heated and stupidly stated shots at anyone who thwarts or defies him. This includes, of course, members of his own party, terminally ill war hero senators, celebrities (where the previously mentioned limited vocabulary comes out in repetitive adjectives and adverbs, like all those essays you wrote as a sophomore in which you used meaningless words to meet the required minimum), and any woman he perceives as a threat to his questionable manhood because she’s smarter (all of them), better looking (all of them), or knows exactly what he’s about (not enough of them).
When you say ‘no’ to a toddler, it triggers a dramatic meltdown: screaming, throwing things, flailing limbs. Toddlers want to be noticed.
Well, again, many of Trump’s meltdowns are on Twitter. Women who have said ‘no’ to Trump have been verbally attacked and insulted as a consequence. Reporters who question him about, well, anything, are snapped at and labeled fake news. We’ll call their attempts to call him out on his stupidity a form of saying ‘no.’ He physically mocked a reporter’s disability in a public speech. He curses when provoked. Basically, the doo doo in his diaper can get pretty deep before his frantic handlers can catch him and calm him down long enough for a diaper change. But by then, the smelly damage has usually been done.
As far as being noticed, Trump carries that one several steps further: he wants to be the ONLY one noticed, wherever he is. And not just noticed, mind you, but praised. Glorified. Proclaimed the very best toddler, who’s done the most, achieved the most, been fantastic and amazing and tremendous. Even if he’s decidedly not.
Toddlers have trouble appropriately expressing their emotions. They often have misplaced humor in very childlike ways.
That’s pretty much been covered already: the Twitter tantrums, the public verbal floggings when someone annoys him or calls him out. The humor part—well, again, look at his speeches. The one to the Boy Scouts comes to mind. In an attempt to be funny, he waxed profane, talked about an orgy, and, in general, indulged in the sort of wink-wink stuff for which he’s known and which he does with abandon and total disregard for his audience.
Toddlers are starting to develop an imagination.
Yes, Trump imagined that Presidents Obama and Bush never made calls to the families of fallen soldiers. He imagined a wall which hasn’t happened and isn’t likely to. He imagines all the time incorrect numbers on taxes, healthcare costs, etc. He imagines that he’s done more than any other President, Obama in particular (which may account for the messiest turd in his overly large diaper). He imagines that he has never touched a woman inappropriately. He imagined that Barack Obama wasn’t born in the USA. He imagines he’s been on the cover of Time Magazine a record number of times (Trump: 11; Nixon: 53). He imagines that he lost the popular vote because millions of illegals voted. He imagined that the crowd at his inaugural was ‘the biggest ever’ (photographic evidence to the contrary). He imagined that the murder rate in the country was currently the highest ever (it was higher in the 80s and 90s). And of course, his list of active imaginings goes on and on. The worst imagining of all may be that he was qualified—at all—to be a US president.
A toddler can be standing all by himself by a broken lamp with a stick in his hand and say with conviction ‘I didn't do it.’
I hear the toddlers in my life say this, and I consider it a victory when they at least add ‘maybe.’ Trump has not, thus far, graduated to that second step. If things go wrong, it is never his fault. It is Hillary’s or Obama’s or McCain’s or literally anyone else’s, but never his. He is blameless in his own mind for anything that goes wrong on his watch. And this refusal to take responsibility for his actions is very toddlerish, indeed. When caught with his hand in the cookie jar (or somewhere else where it shouldn’t be), he demonstrates what an alternate universe he lives in, where the facts are magically altered to mitigate the truth. And the truth, of course, cannot be mitigated. Unless you believe Kellyanne.
Toddlers have a very limited attention span.
Trump reportedly reads nothing that will actually help him run the country. Staffers reportedly give him very abbreviated briefs to read, with lots of pretty charts. I read once that when they prepare these briefs, they insert his name frequently in order to keep him focused. I don’t know if that’s true, but sadly it certainly sounds true. If you’ve ever watched him on video at international conferences and the like, he looks like the dog sidetracked by a squirrel when he’s supposed to be looking for ducks. He looks like he’s trying, but his vacuousness is matched only by his distractedness.
Toddlers are egocentric. They are unable to see from the point of view of others. They are concerned only with their own needs and ideas.
Every speech, tweet, and interview reveals that Trump is his own biggest fan, and he expects everyone else to be a fan, as well. And Lord help those who make it known that they aren’t fans. Everything always comes back to him. He claims to work for the common man, a claim that won him many rural votes, but he has no clue what it means to actually be a common man or the issues they face. Nor does he care, as evidenced by his moves on healthcare and taxes, to name a couple. He has shown no regard for the tragic hurricane victims of Puerto Rico or the immigrants and refugees who need us to survive. He sees only how all of this affects him. If it doesn’t, then he has no interest in it. This includes scenarios in which people could die and are, in fact, dying.
I love the toddlers and toddlers past that are close to me. It’s a stage of life that is simultaneously annoying and fun. But it’s also a stage that I expect them to move beyond, maturing and evolving into responsible adults. Then, and only then, would I want them to be president. Because, cute as toddlers can be, I still wouldn’t want them in the highest office in the land. And let’s face it: That’s exactly what we have.