I genuinely cannot think of an American public figure who has thinner skin than Donald Trump.
Like the dictators he cozies up to, he seems to feel entitled to nothing but adoring coverage and praise at all times. It's not surprising that world powers have figured this out and know that the way that they can get away with all manner of sneakiness is to merely coat it in admiration for Donald Trump and watch him ignore the malfeasance and soak in the adulation.
Various theories have been thrown out for why that is: diagnoses of dementia, narcissistic personality disorder, Adderall abuse (which can give abusers grandiose ideations), etc. It's entirely possible that one or all of those play a part.
But one doesn't need a degree or a lengthy diagnostic session with Donald Trump to see that something is very, very wrong with him. It's not normal for any person to declare themselves "a very stable genius" or trot out underlings to praise his calmness for the media. And while it's appropriately not a clinical diagnosis, Bush adviser David Frum has a theory as to why Trump is so vocal about how praise-worthy he is, and it's not to convince his base.
It's to drown out all the voices in his head telling him what a fraud he is.
We knew they were smart, whether we liked them or not, and the question I always have with Trump's “high IQ” tweets, is who is he talking to? He's not convincing anybody. He's talking to himself. He hears it in his head, maybe in his father's voice... “You're stupid. You're worthless.”
That's who he's arguing with, and so, it's not just that... it's not a media strategy. It's a psychological project based on this deeply wounded person.