GOP front-runner Donald Trump — who’s now earning strange new respect in liberal quarters — managed to make some more news yesterday. Former Newsday reporter Michael D’Antonio has a biography of Trump coming out in two weeks entitled Never Enough: Donald Trump and the Pursuit of Success. The New York Times’ Michael Barbaro got an advance copy and reported out some juicy tidbits from it.
The one that made the rounds yesterday was pretty choice:
Donald J. Trump, who received draft deferments through much of the Vietnam War, told the author of a coming biography that he nevertheless “always felt that I was in the military” because of his education at a military-themed boarding school.
Mr. Trump said his experience at the New York Military Academy, an expensive prep school where his parents had sent him to correct poor behavior, gave him “more training militarily than a lot of the guys that go into the military.”
That claim may raise eyebrows given that Mr. Trump, now a Republican presidential candidate, never served in the military and mocked Sen. John McCain of Arizona, a decorated naval aviator, for his captivity of several years during the Vietnam War.
To be honest, however, as many laughs as Trump’s claim generated, it was so absurd that damn if it didn’t just cause me to chuckle. This appears to be one of Trump’s secret techniques for surmounting his complete lack of foreign policy knowledge.
There was another quote that Barbaro unearthed that was much scarier, however:
Mr. Trump memorably told Mr. D’Antonio that “when I look at myself in the first grade and I look at myself now, I’m basically the same.”
“The temperament is not that different,” he said (emphasis added).
Now there are two possible inferences to draw from this bit of self-knowledge. The first one is that Donald Trump sprang, mind fully formed, from the forehead/real estate holdings of Fred Trump, to be the political god that this country needs to worship. That’s about what a third of possible GOP voters seem to believe.
The other possible inference to draw is that Donald Trump should be kept as far away from the levers of power as humanly possible.
Seriously, who brags about the fact that their temperament is that of a 6 year old? It explains perfectly how he reacts to those who criticize him. Think of Hugh Hewitt and Megyn Kelly as authority figures disappointed in Trump’s behavior and study habits. Trump’s subsequent petulance is perfectly in keeping with an undisciplined first-grader.
The one thing most people learn sometime after the age of 6 is the virtue of delayed gratification. The grown-up portion of our brain is dedicated to the notion that short-term sacrifices and reverses are worth it if they bring long-term rewards. Grown-ups understand the benefits of patience.
Patience is a particularly necessary virtue for presidents. Let’s face it, presidents have to deal with loads of frustration. They will be blamed for anything that goes wrong anywhere in the world. They must cope with zealous enemies, crafty rivals, and truculent allies — and that just covers Congress. The global situation is even more treacherous.
On a daily basis, even the best presidents must cope with failures big and small. Every once in a while, presidents can get their way by raising their voice and throwing a tantrum. But those moments are very rare — indeed, Obama’s latest legislative victory on the Iran deal seems to have come from major league handholding of members of Congress. Imagine Trump trying to woo any conventional politician about anything.
Donald Trump possesses some trenchant self-knowledge. He possesses the mentality of a six-year old who will pout and stomp his foot if he doesn’t get his way. That can work if his opponent is, say, Jeb Bush or Fox News. It would be a disastrous leadership style, however.