President Biden hosted the Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the White House on Tuesday, both Biden and star quarterback Tom Brady "wearing sunglasses and grins," Annie Linskey writes at The Washington Post. "It was in many ways the most traditional of presidential rituals — the visit of a championship team to the White House, allowing athletic stars and political leaders to bask in each other's all-American glow" — and in this case "the very point was to be normal, traditional, even dull."
At the same time, "it was a scene straight out of a Donald Trump nightmare, and quite possibly the worst day of Donald Trump's life," Jonathan Chait writes at New York. "To grasp why such an anodyne scene would produce such a wounding effect on a man who has endured misfortunes such as bankruptcy, losing a presidential election, two impeachments, and innumerable legal setbacks, one needs to understand his peculiar psychology. Here, in rough order, is Trump's hierarchy of needs: 1. To be treated as a winner; 2. To pal around with celebrities; 3. To not be laughed at; 4. To gain the specific approval of Tom Brady."
In Trump's mind, he and Brady are both "Winners," Chait explains. But now, after "avoiding Trump's White House on a flimsy pretext" following his 2017 Super Bowl victory, Brady "went to Biden's" and "used his appearance to mock the candidate he defeated." Brady made two jokes at Trump's expense, one about Trump's refusal to accept his defeat and the second about being called "Sleepy Tom" after forgetting what down it was during a game.
While the "Sleepy Tom" joke "sounds more gentle than the first joke, it is in fact much more deeply vicious," Chait argues. "In Trump's mind, Biden is a pathetic loser, and he is the winner. Like Tom Brady. Yet here was Brady, inverting the whole hierarchy. Biden is the winner, like Brady, and Winners now are guys who get called sleepy by the Losers for making a small mistake on the way to their triumph."
Being mocked by Tom Brady wasn't the only reason Trump might have preferred to avoid the news on Tuesday. His longtime friend and adviser, Thomas Barrack, was arrested for allegedly being an unregistered foreign agent, and Jeff Bezos, the much-wealthier nemesis he frequently attacked, flew to space and, upon exiting his rocket, declared it his "best day ever."