Donald Trump hosted a show on NBC, lived in a Manhattan tower named after himself, and spent a small fortune to influence politicians. He now lives in the White House, appoints Supreme Court justices, issues pardons, orders missile strikes, and launches trade wars. His travel destinations include Davos, his estate in the Florida Keys, and golf courses he owns in foreign countries. Yet powerful allies of his persist with the false conceit that the ruling class does not include the most powerful person in the country, only his rivals and critics.

Among the allies who do this is Michael Anton. A Trump-aligned intellectual, he is best known for pseudonymously publishing “The Flight 93 Election,” an essay that likened Hillary Clinton’s candidacy to the 9/11 terrorists who hijacked Flight 93, and a vote for Trump to storming the cockpit to stop them. The essay galvanized Republicans who needed an excuse to support Trump as extravagant as the billionaire’s cruelty, corruption, and vulgar bigotry. Later, Trump appointed Anton, by then unmasked, to a strategic communications post on the National Security Council…

“If you were the ruler while everything was burning around you, and you didn’t know what to do, what would you do?” Dashan asked. “You would deny that you are in charge. And you would recuperate the growing discontented masses into your own power base, so things stay comfortable for you.”

This sort of denial plagues Trumpism as we approach 2020. The president has spent much of his term portraying himself as the helpless object of a “witch hunt” who is thwarted from “making America great again” by kneeling footballers, freshmen members of Congress, and a news media that he portrays as an “enemy of the people.”