Trump’s Shark Obsession Is an Endearing Distillation of His Horrific Worldview

A shark, Donald Trump.
A shark, Donald Trump.
Photo illustration by Slate. Photos by Thinkstock, Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images.

The Stormy Daniels-related archive digging has revealed many a disturbing fact or anecdote about Donald Trump. But the most endearing (really!) is the president’s bizarre relationship with sharks. He obsessively watches Shark Week, Daniels told InTouch in the 2011 interview that the magazine just published this week. As she explains later on:

He is obsessed with sharks. Terrified of sharks. He was like, “I donate to all these charities and I would never donate to any charity that helps sharks. I hope all the sharks die.” He was like riveted. He was like obsessed. It’s so strange, I know.

This lead to the excavation of the inevitable Trump tweets:

Such bizarre, nonsensical language! Such dismay at the idea that someone might prefer that humans not drive sharks extinct by eating a soup that doesn’t even really taste that good! Such strange confidence that sharks will outlive us all! Trump’s shark feelings are a baffling combination of pathetic, relatable, and hilarious. In sum, they are endearing.

Many people who have spent time around Trump note that he can be charming. It is easy to feel shocked by this assertion, of course, since he’s a narcissistic racist who has been repeatedly accused of sexual assault and harassment. But his comments about sharks give me at least a window into the appeal.

While Trump’s views on sharks may be funny on the surface, they are also an excellent reflection of what exactly is so completely toxic about the man’s character. Sharks are intimidating, formidable, unpredictable, and the president of the United States can’t handle any of those things. They are essentially a physical distillation of what Trump hates the most: power in the hands of anyone but him, existential uncertainty, nature. And it’s his response to those threats that’s the real clincher in exposing the complete immaturity of his thinking and his utter lack of curiosity and respect for difference—in the face of this terror, he wants all the sharks to die. He makes sure none of his money helps sharks. Never mind that destroying sharks would wreak havoc on entire ecosystems. Let’s eat them instead, as a means of performing wealth and asserting our invulnerable place at the top of the food chain.

You like sharks? You fool.

One more thing

You depend on Slate for sharp, distinctive coverage of the latest developments in politics and culture. Now we need to ask for your support.

Our work is more urgent than ever and is reaching more readers—but online advertising revenues don’t fully cover our costs, and we don’t have print subscribers to help keep us afloat. So we need your help. If you think Slate’s work matters, become a Slate Plus member. You’ll get exclusive members-only content and a suite of great benefits—and you’ll help secure Slate’s future.

Join Slate Plus