It was in the pages of Spy magazine, the periodical that gave the world "short-fingered vulgarian," that we first learned of Ivana Trump's nickname for her husband: The Donald. As Spy had it in a 1989 profile of the then-first-and-only wife of their favorite target, Ivana referred to the mogul as "The Don." "The Don, she calls him," Spy's Jonathan Van Meter wrote, five simple words from which a thousand tabloid headlines were born.
We explored the history and spread of "The Donald" in these pages last September and even got a quote from the man himself.
"As for The Donald himself," our Amy Argetsinger wrote, "he laughs that he had 'no choice' but to accept the nickname. 'I don’t mind that it stuck,' he told The Washington Post. 'I think it’s an endearment.' "
If so, that's not universally true.
Among the many revelations buried in the pages of documents related to Trump University that were released last month were very specific rules for referring to the organization, its employees and "students," and, of course, the eponymous founder. Students were to be referred to as "members." Certain "catch phrases/buzz words" were to be used liberally, including "tactical," "you can do this" and "Ivy league quality." And when referring to Donald Trump, there wasn't much room for innovation.
First mention: Donald J. Trump.
Following: Donald Trump.
Never: The Donald.
This is not an isolated nit. In 1990, Trump was sued by a man named Charles Beattie, a veteran of the Air Force. Beattie was an employee of Eastern Airlines who was fired from his position after part of the company was purchased by Trump and renamed Trump Shuttle. The Huffington Post has the full story of the lawsuit, which was settled in 1991.
Over the course of the lawsuit, Beattie and his lawyers seemed to intentionally hope to irritate Trump. A filing from lawyers for Trump Shuttle in June 1990 calls out specific instances of language with which they took issue. In one, Beattie's attorneys couple the use of "The Donald" with disparagement of Trump's failure to serve in Vietnam. (He got a deferment from the draft.)
Trump Shuttle's attorneys argued that use of "The Donald" made Trump "appear as a caricature of cartoon-like proportions ...
... and refused to accede to demands from Beattie's attorneys that Trump objected to the moniker because it made him "uncomfortable."
The judge in the case eventually agreed that Beattie's team should stop calling The Donald "The Donald." The Donald had won again.
When battling Beattie in court and when being presented to "members" at Trump University, Donald Trump didn't find the appellation particularly endearing. One can only wonder what might have happened in the primaries had Marco Rubio spent his waning days on the trail focused on Trump's nickname and not his fingers.