One farmer, Michael Forbes, put up a more robust fight. In 2012, he described his first meeting with Trump on a beach near the developer's eventual property.
“He was being all nicey, nicey and talking about how successful he was and how much money he had,” Forbes said. “That was it for me. I took an instant dislike to him.”
His fight against the eventual president of the United States became the subject of a documentary called “You've Been Trumped.” And in 2012, Forbes joined Olympic athletes and international performers at Glenfiddich scotch's “Spirit of Scotland Awards,” winning the award “Top Scot.”
Trump was infuriated, announcing publicly that he banning Glenfiddich from all Trump properties and repeatedly disparaging the company on Twitter and, for some reason, suggesting that the real top Scot should be tennis player Andy Murray.
Eight years ago Sunday, he went further. A Twitter user goaded Trump, suggesting that the developer was perhaps “a bit thick” since the award was a popular vote and not a decision made by the liquor company.
Surely Trump had “been told plenty times now that the Scottish public voted for Michael Forbes,” the user wrote.
“Dopey,” Trump replied, “same people voting over & over again? Andy Murray #1 by far.”
Eight years ago, in other words, a remarkable echo of our present. Trump being told the actual results over and over and then suggesting that perhaps there had been fraudulent voting? Sounds like our guy.
At a rally in Georgia over the weekend, Trump insisted that he could handle losses with grace.
“I have to say, if I lost, I'd be a very gracious loser. If I lost, I would say, 'I lost,'" Trump told the audience. “And I'd go to Florida and I'd take it easy, and I'd go around, and I'd say, 'I did a good job.'"
This, of course, is undercut rather dramatically by the fact that he did lose his reelection bid last month and has been far from gracious in response. There’s been no acknowledgment at all of Biden’s success, even in states well outside the margins of victory that he’s been trying to leverage to introduce doubt. It’s just sulking and petulance and a constant elevation of nonsensical allegations that come nowhere near any credible proof of wrongdoing.
It’s impossible to separate Trump’s behavior now from his comments well before the election in which he made clear that this was exactly how he’d respond to a loss. Over and over, Trump claimed that mail-in ballots are rife with fraud — a claim both untrue in the past and in the most recent election — and that the only way he could lose would be if rampant fraud occurred. He lost, so he worked backward to suggest that it had occurred unfairly, in the clumsiest way imaginable.
His comments in Georgia were meant to actually serve as evidence for his obstinance. If Trump would be nothing but gracious should he lose fairly, he must have lost unfairly, right? Which is why stories like the Top Scot award are useful: they give the lie to Trump's claim of offering dignified responses to failure.
There are plenty of other similar examples, of course.
On the night of the Iowa caucuses in 2016, when Trump was defeated by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) despite leading in the polls, Trump actually did concede with some modicum of grace. But that changed quickly.
He began demanding that Iowa hold another caucus in what are now familiar terms.
This, like many of his protests about the 2020 contest, was largely an effort to save face. He had the New Hampshire primaries coming up a few days later and his presentation of himself as an unfailing winner was important (at least in his own eyes) to his political value proposition.
That held over the course of the 2016 campaign. After winning the presidency on the strength of his electoral-vote margin in 2016, Trump continued to claim that he’d also won the popular vote, despite losing it by a wide margin. How did that happen? Why, fraud of course: millions of illegal votes cast in California that somehow left behind no evidence at all. He claimed that he lost New Hampshire due to residents of Massachusetts crossing over the border, a claim for which he never offered any evidence, despite an entreaty from the head of the Federal Election Commission to do so.
There was no such evidence, of course. It was always just Trump seeking to soothe his wounded ego and maintain the facade of invincibility, however lazily.
Over the course of the 2020 election, Trump didn't face any real political contests, thanks in part to the Republican Party smoothing his path to renomination by discouraging opponents and even canceling primaries. The only competitions in which he engaged between his 2016 election and his 2020 defeat were this year's general election debates.
Polling showed that Trump lost both. Trump claimed he won them — which is what he did with the three debates in 2016 as well, of course.
There are any number of other examples of Trump coming out in the short end of a contest or lawsuit and insisting that he couldn't have performed any better. Any moments of grace in his life are buried under the tons of pettiness and deceptions that normally accompany those times when he isn't victorious.
As is often the case, there's a nice little coda to Trump's Top Scot frustrations.
In 2019, the Wall Street Journal reported that Trump’s former attorney Michael Cohen had tried before 2016 to rig online polls in favor of Trump. In early 2014, Cohen hired a programmer to try to rig a CNBC poll of top business leaders — exactly what he’d claimed the people of Scotland had done two years prior.
Cohen's effort didn't work. Trump's response was predictable.
Had he lost fairly, of course, he’d have been nothing but gracious.