The Stanton Peele Addiction Website, April 25, 2011. This blog post also appeared on Stanton's blog at The Huffington Post website.
Bully Boy Trump
NBC correspondent Michael Isikoff's interview with Donald Trump created quite a stir. Although it mainly recycled old news about Trump's Atlantic City casino bankruptcies, the interview was most notable for Trump's characteristic responses to having his name and business acumen questioned.
As Trump sensed Isikoff going in negative (for Trump) directions, he anticipated and interrupted -- repeatedly -- with curt "excuse me's." While Obama and other politicians sometimes become irritated when interviewers interrupt them, Trump beats interviewers to the punch.
In a subsequent discussion among MSNBC correspondents about whether Trump was thin-skinned, some claimed he was no more so that any politician or political figure.
Excuse me! Trump is famous for not being able to tolerate the suggestion that he isn't the greatest. A real egomaniac he is -- unless you believe that people who behave in this manner are deeply insecure.
Trump is most sensitive to claims that he's not all that successful in business. He keeps claiming his net worth is far greater that then the $2.7 billion listed for him by Forbes (a figure for which Trump lobbied). Trump only recently himself showed up at an appeal in New Jersey of his libel suit (both the original case and the appeal were dismissed) against author Tim O'Brien and the publisher of his 2006 book, "TrumpNation: The Art of Being the Donald." O'Brien said the evidence was that Trump was only worth in the hundreds of million of dollars -- infuriating the Donald and spurring him to legal action.
Do you recall when Trump lambasted Rosie O'Donnell non-stop as a fat pig, a talentless failure? That was Trump's response to O'Donnell's having raised, among other things, the old casino bankruptcy issue. (Here Trump calls her a degenerate on Letterman.) And when Gail Collins, of the NY Times, brought up the same subject, she received a copy of her column from Trump with her photo circled and "face of a dog" written over it.
If there is one similarity between George W. Bush and Barack Obama, it is that they strive to be polite and socially acceptable. That skein of polite presidents would be broken were Trump to be elected!
It is clear that Trump -- like everyone -- has developed a style he relies on in life. You might label Trump's style, "The best defense is a good offense." As soon as anyone even hints that he is less than perfect, he jumps in to attack his interlocutor. And -- as with O'Donnell -- he is relentless, vicious, thuggish. How do you imagine such a person performing in debates when challenged by other candidates, or by tough but fair reporters?
It won't be pretty. Typically, when Isikoff asked what he had learned from his failures, Trump said -- see if you can guess. That's right -- he doesn't think he has ever had any failure. Not very reassuring to imagine someone who responds this way to a measly interview, compared with his serving as the leader of the free world and negotiating with armed service commanders, Congress, and foreign powers.