Source: Michael Vadon/ Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 2.0

In response to the recent Republican debate, Yoni Appelbaum, writing for The Atlantic, referred to Donald Trump’s defense of “New York values” as his finest moment. This description is, probably, accurate, with the rather poetic defense nestled amongst the many, many ludicrous and offensive statements Trump has uttered during his campaign thus far. As quoted in the Atlantic article: “‘New York is a great place,’ he said. ‘It's got great people, it's got loving people, wonderful people. When the World Trade Center came down, I saw something that no place on Earth could have handled more beautifully, more humanely than New York.’ His tone turned somber:

And the people in New York fought and fought and fought, and we saw more death, and even the smell of death—nobody understood it. And it was with us for months, the smell, the air. And we rebuilt downtown Manhattan, and everybody in the world watched and everybody in the world loved New York and loved New Yorkers.”

Of course, this discussion of coming together would probably be less jarring if Trump had not repeatedly defended his unfounded claims of thousands of Muslims celebrating on 9/11 in Jersey City.

Regardless of this rather hypocritical approach, we’re here for some psychology. Several sources have reported on whether Donald Trump is a narcissist, including TIME, Vanity Fair, and this very outlet. I am in no position to speak to Trump’s personality, but he presents a variety of narcissistic characteristics, as discussed in the linked articles. This relates very specifically to his defense of New York City. We need to recall that New York is Donald Trump’s home, and he appears to identify with it quite strongly, so a defense of the city, even a passionate, relatively poetic one, is really an advertisement for Donald Trump. In the New York Times, Jim Dwyer writes, “Mr. Trump has never run for office in New York City, and with good reason. Mr. Trump’s values are about one person. The city is just a prop, like the campaign and everything else.”

As pointed out in our Leadership Quarterly article, Leader development and the dark side of personality, narcissists can be strongly motivated to do something when that thing is important to their identity. Donald Trump is a New Yorker—and to a narcissist, this means the city is an extension of himself—so, to Donald Trump, a defense of New York is a defense of Donald Trump. This was, indeed, a fine moment, but we should not lose sight of Trump’s self-aggrandizing motives.