Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump balances more than books; he balances grudges and favours, says Dan Zak.
Washington - Donald John Trump, R-Spite, is like Vito Corleone crossed with an 8-year-old. If you've been good to him, he'll be good to you. If you have wronged him or crossed him, he will throw food at you and then bury you like you wouldn't believe, understand? The behaviour is simultaneously brutish and infantile, which polls nowadays as “refreshing”.
Trump on his fellow Republican presidential candidate Scott Walker, to Maureen Dowd: “He gave me a plaque and everything is nice. And I like him.”
Trump on Walker, one sentence later: “And then about a week ago one of his guys came up and said that Donald Trump is full of it. I said: 'Thank you so much. Now I can hit him.' I hit Scott so hard.”
Just like in the schoolyard. Imagine the parent-to-parent discussion.
“I'm calling about your son, Donald. He won't stop hitting my Scott.”
Trump loves Twitter because he can now hit anyone in the world instantly.
“For years, if someone did bad stuff to me, I couldn't fight back,” he said to Sean Hannity last week. “Now I have @realDonaldTrump, and I can sort of tweet some bad stuff about them.”
For now, the people of Washington, DC, are on Trump's good side. It doesn't hurt that he's building a major hotel project in our sandbox, about 3 000 feet from the White House.
“I would like to do whatever's good for the District of Columbia because I love the people,” he said in an interview that aired on Sunday on “Meet the Press”, when asked whether he favoured DC statehood. “You know, it's funny. I've really gotten to know the people, their representatives and the mayor and everybody. They're really special people, they're great, and they have a great feeling. So I would say whatever's best for them, I'm for.”
It doesn't matter what the “whatever” is, or whom he beats up in your place. If you're on his side, you're golden! You've got a great feeling, which means Trump has a great feeling about you, which means - what, exactly? Does this mean he would use the power of the executive to achieve congressional representation for the District? No. Or yes. It doesn't really matter in Trump's world. Declarations and denunciations matter more than actions. The 144th richest person in the United States balances more than books; he balances grudges and favours. He divides the world into winners and losers. He goes on general feelings. And God help you if the feelings go sour.
Last month his team posted an Instagram photo of a smiling Trump and Rick Perry in 2012 with the caption: “@GovernorPerry in my office last cycle playing nice and begging for my support and money. Hypocrite!”
He has called Rand Paul “truly weird” and a “tiny little guy.”
His thoughts on Caroline Kennedy, on “Meet the Press”: “a very nice person, because my daughter likes her a lot, Ivanka, so she has to be nice.” Let's untangle his contorted phrasing: Trump has to say that Kennedy is a nice person because his daughter likes her. His interpersonal calculus hinges on blind loyalty. On Joe Biden, to Dowd: “A person who was very loyal to the president, which I respect.” Last week he tweeted to former “Apprentice” contender Omarosa Manigault after she defended him on CNN: “Thank you so much - you are a loyal friend!”
Even his top presidential priority - building a wall - feels both childish and dictatorial.
“Randy said DJ wouldn't share any of the trucks. He used them to section off his own part of the sandbox.”
There's something about Trump's schoolyard rhetoric that feels familiar. Yes, he stimulates the inner brat in all of us - remember what it was like to do or say anything without any real consequences? - but there's a more specific echo in the hyperbole, the almost preadolescent megalomania.
“I am the object of criticism around the world. But I think that since I am being discussed, then I am on the right track.”
Kim Jong Il said that, to former Russian official Konstantin Pulikovsky.
“If I get my name in the paper, if people pay attention, that's what matters,” Trump told his real estate lawyer Jerry Schrager, according to Gwenda Blair's “Donald Trump: Master Apprentice.”
“Let us bring about a radical turn in the building of an economic giant,” said Kim Jong Un in his 2013 New Year's address.
“All over the world I make money and I build great things,” Trump said on Fox News in May.
“We're going to have so many victories,” Trump said in Hampton, New Hampshire, last week.
Kim Jong Il “achieved one victory after another,” his son said last month.
Maybe it's unfair to equate Donald John Trump with Kim Jong Il, but Trump himself has made name-calling fair game in the sandbox.