Yes. Yes. Yes.
While it should be three strikes and you’re out, the Donald still gets to keep coming up to bat. Before, we look at why that’s the case let’s look at the evidence that supports the verdict regarding Trump’s being a baby, a bully and a buffoon.
Noted psychologists such as Harvard professor and researcher, Howard Gardner, have labeled Donald Trump “remarkably narcissistic.” To our knowledge, however none have assigned him the “baby” label.
And, now that the American Psychiatric Association has invoked a sort of cease and desist order reminding its members of the Goldwater Rule established in 1973 – which states that it is “unethical for a psychiatrist to offer a professional opinion unless he or she has conducted an examination…” – it is unlikely that an Association member will do so.
That hasn’t and won’t stop commentators of both the liberal and conservative persuasion from weighing in on this matter. From the liberal side of the aisle, Frank Bruni observes, “He’s best described not in political terms but in developmental terms. He’s a toddler. I’d say ‘infant’ but infants are pre-verbal, and he has a few words, most of them monosyllabic.”
From the conservative side, there are Charles Krauthammer and David Brooks. Krauthammer opines, “I used to think Trump was an 11-year-old, an undeveloped schoolyard bully. I was off by about 10 years. His needs are more primitive, an infantile hunger for approval and praise, a craving that can never be satisfied.”
Brooks states, “He is a slave to his own pride, compelled by a childlike impulse to lash out at anything that threatens his fragile identity….Republicans are not going to be able to help the 70-year old man-child grow up over the next few months.”
Put us in the camp of Bruni, Brooks and Krauthammer and so many others who would like to see this baby thrown out with the bath water. We have been commenting for months to friends and associates on Trump’s baby-like behavior. It wasn’t until he threw a Trumper-tantrum at a crying baby at one of his recent rallies that we decided to go public with our observations.
When the baby’s cries interrupted him at the rally, Trump first said, “Don’t worry about the baby, I love babies.”
A few moments later when the baby cried again, Trump retracted his approval declaring, “I was only kidding, you can get the baby out of here. That’s all right. Don’t worry. I, I think she really believed me that I love having a baby crying while I’m speaking. That’s OK. People don’t understand. That’s OK.”
Even though Trump said it was OK, we don’t think it he really meant it. That’s because when there are two babies in the room crying out for attention, for Donald Trump that is one baby too many.
The psychological theory of transactional analysis posits that each of us has three alter ego states: Parent, Adult and Child. The Adult is the “thought” state which enables us to keep our Parent or “taught” state and Child or “felt” state under control and to change our behavior constructively.
The child state is characterized physically by actions such as temper tantrums, whining voice, rolling eyes and shrugging shoulders. It is characterized verbally by terms such as bigger, biggest, best, many superlatives and words to impress.
We don’t know which state dominates for Donald Trump but we do have our opinion. We’ll leave the official diagnosis up to the professionals.
Donald Trump – baby or bully? Charles Krauthammer said at one time he thought of Trump as an “undeveloped schoolyard bully” but now thinks of him more as a baby. We still think of him as both.
Unfortunately, Trump’s bullying extends far beyond the schoolyard. His name calling and brutish behavior knows almost no bounds. If he were in school or on the schoolyard and making proclamations of the type that he has about women, minorities, political opponents, you name the target, he would be expelled.
Consider Trump’s mocking a disabled reporter; telling security at a rally in Vermont to take protesters coats and to “throw them out in the cold”; or, saying about a protester at a Nevada rally that he would like “to punch him in the face.”
And, that’s just the tip of the Trump’s bullying iceberg. Near the end of July, the New York Times posted an interactive list of The 250 People, Places and Things Donald Trump Has Insulted on Twitter. They included “…presidential candidates, journalists, news organizations, nations, a Neil Young song, and even a lectern in the oval office.”
Trump’s bullying isn’t just about personal or organizational attacks. He also likes to take folks to court in an attempt to add injury to his insults. USA Today reports that over the past three decades he or his companies has been involved in over 4,000 lawsuits and has been the plaintiff in more than half of them.
Writing for USA Today, Nick Penzenstadler notes, “Trump uses lawsuits to negotiate throughout his business relationships. He turns to litigation to distance himself from failing projects that relied on the Trump brand. And he uses the legal system to haggle over his property bills and contracts with vendors.”
The lawsuits are just another form of bullying.
Trump is fond of saying he is a counter-puncher. Truth be told – although when it comes from the Donald it’s hard to separate fiction from fact – Trump is more of a sucker-puncher than a counter-puncher. Whether it’s those small businesses doing work for his companies or those unwitting students enrolled at Trump University, his motto appears to be “Never give a sucker an even break.”
And, given his track record, the suckers appear to be any one who would be foolish enough to believe that they would be treated with dignity and respect and given a square deal by Mr. Trump. The proof is in the pudding – and that pudding is an incredibly distasteful one.
Finally, there is Donald Trump the buffoon. We would like to think that Trump’s buffoonery is intentional and a comical performance carefully designed to entertain or amuse. But, instead we stand in bemusement rather than amusement.
The outrageous, uninformed and ridiculous statements that Trump has spewed throughout his presidential candidacy are a source of wonderment. They are not an embarrassment of riches. They are merely an embarrassment.
Since his presidential campaign began in June of 2015, Trump has added a new page to his collection of buffoonery on almost a daily basis. Recent examples of the wit and wisdom of Donald Trump include:
After a veteran gave Trump his Purple Heart at a rally in Virginia, he had the audacity to ask whether it was real or a copy and proceeded to proclaim that “I always wanted to get the Purple Heart. This was much easier.”
At a North Carolina rally in commenting about Hillary Clinton picking a Supreme Court justice, Trump stated, “If she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do folks.” He then added, “Although the Second Amendment people – maybe there is, I don’t know.”
At a Florida rally, Trump declared, “In many respects they honor President Obama. He’s the founder of ISIS. He’s the founder of ISIS. He’s the founder of ISIS. He’s the founder of ISIS. He’s the founder.
After Trump’s ISIS remarks were roundly criticized in the media, he tweeted out “They don’t get sarcasm?”
At a Pennsylvania rally, Trump repeated that he was being sarcastic in naming President Obama as the founder of ISIS. Then, in classic Trump-mode, he back-tracked adding, “Not that sarcastic, to be honest with you.”
Honest. Dishonest. Sarcastic. Not sarcastic. What is one to believe?
For the Trump believers, it really doesn’t matter. That’s why they selected him to be the Republican candidate for the highest office in this land. That’s why they turn out in “huge” numbers for his rallies. That’s why Donald Trump has not struck out and is still in the game.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. And in the eyes of the Trump beholders, they see beauty in the baby, the bully, and the buffoon.
And, as the presidential campaign heads into the home stretch, it appears so too does the Donald. By naming combative Steve Bannon of the conservative Breitbart News website to be the new chief executive of his campaign, he has sent a strong signal that he wants to amplify the message that got him to this point in the presidential race rather than recalibrating.
Trump is known for doubling down when he is criticized or makes a faux pas. In this instance, he is tripling up.
He will be dancing with the ones who “brung” him. He is betting that being bigger, the biggest and the best as the baby, the bully and the buffoon will make him the winner in November.
If it does not, rest assured that there will be a lot of whining about the elections being rigged, belligerent statements about the victor, and a smorgasbord of convoluted commentary from the loser.
Even though Trump said he does “regret” some of the remarks that he has made “in the heat of the debate” at a rally in North Carolina shortly after bringing Bannon on board, we do not expect this “kinder and gentler” Trump to be the continuous persona that we see on the campaign trail for the remainder of this contest.
Some things and some one will never change.
[In the interests of full and open disclosure, Frank Islam is on Hillary Clinton’s National Finance Committee.]