Chattanooga Times Free Press - - OPINION -

Thanks to Ivana Trump’s new mem­oir, we now know that Don­ald Trump once did have a dog. Well, ac­tu­ally it was Ivana’s. A poodle named Chappy. And Don­ald didn’t like him.

Nev­er­the­less, this ap­pears to be the clos­est our cur­rent pres­i­dent ever came to hav­ing a pet, so at­ten­tion must be paid.

This is pos­si­bly the big­gest in­sight in “Rais­ing Trump,” by Don­ald’s first ex-wife. (We are not go­ing to go into her con­tention that peo­ple who have been mar­ried more than 10 years sel­dom have sex more than “a few times a month.”)

I’m sort of pre­sum­ing that you’re not go­ing to read it, de­spite the fact that it in­cludes sev­eral recipes. So let me sum­ma­rize. The book is sup­posed to be about good par­ent­ing. But the most im­por­tant thing you learn is that we can never say another mean thing about Don­ald Jr. again. Re­ally, it sounds like the worst child­hood ever. His story be­gins with Dad re­sist­ing the idea of nam­ing the baby af­ter him, in case his first born turned out to be “a loser.”

As a tod­dler, Don Jr. broke his leg due to a neg­li­gent baby sit­ter. Then one day when Ivana was out of town, he and Eric called hys­ter­i­cally to re­port they had found their nanny un­con­scious in the base­ment. (She died.)

Wait, there’s more: Dur­ing their in­fa­mous di­vorce, Dad sent a body­guard from his of­fice to get Ju­nior, an­nounc­ing: “You’re not get­ting him back. I’m go­ing to bring him up my­self.”

Ivana says she re­sponded: “OK, keep him. I have two other kids to raise.” Si­lence and 10 min­utes later the body­guard re­turned her son. It was, Trump’s ex-wife con­cluded, “a tac­tic to upset me.” How­ever for some rea­son, at around this time Don Jr. stopped speak­ing to his fa­ther and wound up get­ting shipped to board­ing school.

Af­ter sev­eral more years of be­ing the name­sake of a man who was then fa­mous for star­ring in the most sen­sa­tional tabloid sto­ries of the era, Don Jr. grad­u­ated from col­lege, moved to Colorado and got a job bar­tend­ing. Ivana said she made her dis­ap­proval clear by “cut­ting him off” un­til he gave up, re­turned to New York and joined the Trump Or­ga­ni­za­tion.

Do you see what I mean? It’s a mir­a­cle the man is walk­ing and tak­ing nour­ish­ment. I will never at­tack him again. Well, ex­cept for the ele­phant hunt­ing.

A lot of “Rais­ing Trump” is Ivana brag­ging that the chil­dren were never spoiled — un­like those Kar­dashi­ans. There’s a lot about her glam­orous wardrobe and tri­umphs as a CEO in the fam­ily busi­nesses. (“My ver­sion of he­li­copter par­ent­ing was to bring the kids to work with me in the Trump chop­per.”)

And you just keep plow­ing on be­cause you fig­ure sooner or later she’s go­ing to get to The Af­fair.

Fi­nally, it’s 1989 in Aspen. A young woman comes up to Ivana and says: “I’m Marla and I love your hus­band. Do you?”

What fol­lowed was per­haps the big­gest sex scan­dal in Amer­i­can his­tory. OK, I’m to­tally ex­ag­ger­at­ing. (Re­mem­ber that whop­per in the 19th cen­tury with Grover Cleve­land’s il­le­git­i­mate child?) But the Don­ald-Marla-Ivana story was un­usual in that at the time, no­body in­volved in it was all that im­por­tant. Trump was a celebrity real es­tate de­vel­oper, but there were plenty of equally rich and glam­orous fig­ures in New York, many of them hav­ing adul­tery is­sues of their own.

The dif­fer­ence was that Trump pushed the story, call­ing his al­lies in the me­dia with new tid­bits or lines of de­fense. It was as if Grover Cleve­land had press agents try­ing to make sure his side of the love-child scan­dal was in a head­line ev­ery day.

You will not hear any­thing about that an­gle in Ivana’s book. In fact, once the af­fair comes cen­ter stage, you hardly hear any­thing about Don­ald at all. He seems to be a sort of pas­sive by­stander. (“Af­ter the show­girl got preg­nant and had a daugh­ter, Don­ald mar­ried her.”)

The vil­lain of the book is “Marla freak­ing Maples” the “show­girl” who broke up her mar­riage and pro­duced The New York Post’s all-time fa­mous front-page head­line: “Best Sex I’ve Ever Had.” If Marla had kid­napped Don­ald, thrown him in a trunk and driven him off to a shot­gun wed­ding, she could not have been more evil.

Ivana’s ea­ger­ness to gloss over the sins of an ex who now hap­pens to be pres­i­dent of the most pow­er­ful na­tion on the planet is hardly the worst is­sue of sex­ism the coun­try has to dis­cuss this week. But it’s still a use­ful re­minder that Trump has got­ten away with ab­so­lutely ap­palling be­hav­ior through­out his life, right down to his yelp­ing “locker room talk” when­ever peo­ple bring up that record­ing of him brag­ging about grab­bing women’s pri­vate parts.

To­ward the end of the book Trump is “kind enough to waive the $20,000 fee” when Ivana held her third mar­riage at Mara-Lago. The later hus­bands were pretty ter­ri­ble, too. One of them had a large, thug­gish son who spent one fam­ily gath­er­ing throt­tling — oh no! — Don­ald Jr.

The hap­pi­est per­son in the fam­ily was prob­a­bly Chappy.

Gail Collins

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