Donald Trump has gone through his adult life with a chip on his shoulder. He could never be the self-made man his father, Fred Trump, was. Manhattan elites would never really respect the guy from Queens, let alone treat him as one of their own. He was too loud, too crude, too classless. We have seen that mind-set play out time and again in the campaign, as Trump acts like a petulant child, a victim in a system that never lets him win.

That’s surely the feeling you got from his appearance at the Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner on Thursday night. The Post reported:

Speaking first at the Al Smith dinner in New York City on Thursday night — a dinner that benefits Catholic charities — Donald Trump took the opportunity to unleash a torrent of very-not-lighthearted jokes about Hillary Clinton. Many of them didn’t even seem intended to evoke laughs so much as controversy. They were the kind of thing you’d expect at a Trump rally, in fact.
They ranged from Clinton hating Catholics to Clinton being corrupt to the Clinton Foundation’s alleged misdeeds in its relief efforts in Haiti.

Trump got booed. At the Al Smith dinner. (That’s like a kid getting booed in a school play.) Clinton wasn’t all that funny, but she understood what the evening was all about. She knows how to behave in polite company. Trump on Thursday didn’t or couldn’t control himself and apparently couldn’t find anyone willing to write good jokes for him. Had he shown up in swim trunks and a bathrobe at the white-tie affair, he could not have seemed more out of place. How different is that from the campaign trail — where he is ignorant of things small and large, channels anger but engenders little affection and lacks any self-awareness?

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Clinton landed a few good lines with an especially timely zinger about his submissiveness to the Russian president, remarking that Trump was “as healthy as a horse — you know, the one Vladimir Putin rides around on.” (On Thursday came more evidence, as if any was needed, that it was the Russians who hacked Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta’s emails, prompting foreign policy adviser Jake Sullivan to denounce Trump’s toadying: “There is no longer any doubt that Putin is trying to help Donald Trump by weaponizing WikiLeaks. Despite all the evidence, including the conclusions of the US intelligence community, Donald Trump went on the debate stage and acted as Putin’s puppet, defending Russia and refusing to admit and condemn the Kremlin’s actions.”) But as in the debate, Clinton won points simply by showing up at the dinner and not being awful.

Her best line skewering Trump may have come in the debate, when she chided Trump for using foundation money to buy a six-foot painting of himself. “I mean, who does that?!?” she exclaimed with the right mix of incredulity and disgust.

Her most effective lines were her serious ones, invoking the spirit of Al Smith, which wound up sounding like criticism of Trump. (She invited the audience to consider “how far we have come” from the days of anti-Catholic bigotry heaped on Smith. She continued on that “fears of division can cause us to treat each other as ‘the other,’ ” which in turn “makes it harder for us to see each other and listen to each other.” Perhaps in a pointed dig at the man who never saw a building he didn’t want to put his name on, she went on gently reminding us that “our greatest monument on this earth won’t be what we build, but the lives we touch.”

In other words, Trump is no Al Smith. Trump, just as he was Thursday night, for the past 18 months and for his entire 70 years, cannot help but remind us that he is a crude, mean boor. And he always will be.

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