Trump is an ex­pert at self-sab­o­tage

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - FRONT PAGE - Jonah Gold­berg is syn­di­cated by Tri­bune Me­dia Ser­vices. Jonah Gold­berg

Colum­nist Jonah Gold­berg com­ments on the GOP can­di­date's habit of com­mit­ting un­forced er­rors.

“Jonah — We have come a long way to­gether — and I like it! Thank you!”

That right there is the full ex­tent of my per­sonal com­mu­ni­ca­tions with Don­ald J. Trump. He wrote it by hand in broad felt pen on the very page my col­umn ap­peared in the New York Post, mostly in ALL CAPS, fol­lowed by his sig­na­ture (which looks a bit like an EKG read­ing). It came to me as a PDF via email on Sept. 4, 2015, un­der the sub­ject header “From the of­fice of Don­ald J. Trump.”

Ap­par­ently he does this sort of thing a lot. I know several other colum­nists who’ve re­ceived sim­i­lar mis­sives from the GOP nom­i­nee. But I like mine the best. It came af­ter months of feud­ing with Trump. We had an epic bat­tle on Twit­ter in which he in­sisted I should be fired. He told an NBC re­porter that I don’t know how to buy pants. (I’m still try­ing to fig­ure that one out.) But in my col­umn, I had given Trump a back­handed com­pli­ment.

I noted that, ac­cord­ing to the polls, the No. 1 thing his fans liked about him was that he “tells it like it is.” I dis­agreed with that then — and now. (I think he makes stuff up on the fly, which is dif­fer­ent.) But I did con­cede that Trump was re­fresh­ingly un­fil­tered. “The one thing you can be sure of,” I wrote, “is that he hasn’t con­sulted with a po­lit­i­cal con­sul­tant about how to talk.”

My the­ory was that Trump, a bridge-and-tunnel pop­ulist with a chip on his shoul­der, never cared what the muck­et­y­mucks at The New York Times, Wash­ing­ton Post, Los Angeles Times, or even the pin­heads at Na­tional Review (where I’m a se­nior ed­i­tor) thought about him, so long as they wrote about him.

“I’d be will­ing to bet that if there’s a sin­gle news­pa­per in the coun­try that Trump cares about, it’s the New York Post ,”I wrote. “The Big Ap­ple Nar­cis­sus has spent his en­tire ca­reer look­ing for his re­flec­tion on Page Six of New York’s true pa­per of record.”

And that’s why I loved Trump’s mis­sive. Obliv­i­ous to the irony, The Big Ap­ple Nar­cis­sus proved my point per­fectly.

I have no idea whether he thought his mash note would win me over. But I’m glad it didn’t. Be­cause it seems that when­ever peo­ple put their faith in Trump, he sets out to pu­n­ish them for it.

For 18 months, he promised to “pivot” and be­come pres­i­den­tial. But once he se­cured the nom­i­na­tion, he vowed he wouldn’t change. Just hours af­ter Paul Ryan en­dorsed him, Trump dou­bled down on his big­oted at­tacks against an Amer­i­can judge of Mex­i­can de­scent. Af­ter ris­ing in the polls for a while, Trump started his ver­bal war on the par­ents of a slain Mus­lim-Amer­i­can soldier.

Last week, a group called Schol­ars & Writ­ers for Trump is­sued their en­dorse­ment of the GOP nom­i­nee. One of the group’s lead­ers, law pro­fes­sor F.H. Buck­ley, wrote, “I have some sym­pa­thy for peo­ple who can imag­ine a bet­ter Repub­li­can can­di­date this year, but from the very be­gin­ning, I al­ways thought that Don­ald Trump was per­fect.”

Two days later, Trump the Per­fect was tweet­ing at 3:20 a.m. about Ali­cia Machado, the Miss Uni­verse he hu­mil­i­ated 20 years ear­lier. At 5:30 a.m., he in­structed his mil­lions of fol­low­ers to check out her nonex­is­tent “sex tape.”

These are just a few of the high­lights. When he an­nounced In­di­ana Gov. Mike Pence as his run­ning mate, he couldn’t be both­ered to stand next to him on stage at their ini­tial press con­fer­ence. In their joint in­ter­view on “60 Min­utes,” Trump treated Pence like he was an un­wanted in­tern. Poor Chris Christie has been abused like a valet in the court of the Ro­manovs.

The man is so in­ca­pable of tak­ing ad­vice, his aides have started leak­ing con­struc­tive crit­i­cisms to the press. A be­lea­guered Newt Gin­grich had to go on “Han­nity” the other night and es­sen­tially beg a man he’s fa­vor­ably com­pared to Rea­gan, Thatcher and Churchill to stop the night­time tweet­ing. “There’s no ex­cuse. Ever.”

It’s all for naught. Even if the New York Post it­self blared on its cover “Don­ald Get Your Act To­gether,” it wouldn’t work, be­cause The Big Ap­ple Nar­cis­sus thinks it’s bet­ter to be at­tacked in the lime­light than to suc­ceed out of it. In­stead of tak­ing the Post’s ad­vice, he’d have his sec­re­tary send the edi­tors a nice note thank­ing him for the front­page place­ment.

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