Politics & Policy

Re: These Trump Family Fights Are Brutal

Below, Jim notes the startling story about Donald Trump related in a recent New York Times profile of Trump’s brother, Freddy, who died from alcoholism in 1981 at the age of 43. 

I’m not inclined to draw bold lines between family episodes and presidential candidates’ fitness for office; Tolstoy had something to say about unhappy families. But there’s a petty streak in Donald Trump — more than a streak; I’m not breaking news here — that, in its worst form, is utter vindictiveness. There are the juvenile Twitter outbursts and the insinuations about Megyn Kelly’s menstrual cycle; there are the mean-spirited jabs on the debate stage; there are the endless lawsuits — against the Chicago Tribune, for criticizing his plan to build a tower taller than the Sears Tower; against the New York Times reporter who understated Trump’s wealth in a book; against Bill Maher for promising, then failing, to pay Trump $5 million if he could prove his father was not an orangutan. All for what, exactly?

Maybe this is that “fighting spirit” that Trump fans adore; maybe this is another demonstration of how he won’t be crossed, how he’ll crush his opponents, how he’ll make America Strong. But it looks far more like the behavior of a bully. And conservatives have spent seven years complaining about a petty, vindictive bully in the White House — and an IRS that targets conservative political groups, and a State Department that hunts down a California filmmaker instead of Libyan terrorists, &c. Will that suddenly be acceptable once it’s us doing it to them? Will all be set aright once it’s our bully in the White House pushing through our policies and making life miserable for their people? Is that the leader Trump supporters want?

I’m all for hardball (Lord knows congressional Republicans could use a tutorial). But using a palsied infant as leverage isn’t playing hardball. It’s something else entirely.

Ian Tuttle — Ian Tuttle is the former Thomas L. Rhodes Journalism Fellow at the National Review Institute.

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