Pelosi’s barbs at­tempt to re­par­ent tantrum-prone pres­i­dent

The dif­fer­ences be­tween Trump and Pelosi go back a very long way

The Irish Times - - World News - Mau­reen Dowd

Two men, sons of im­mi­grants, ris­ing to be the head of their own em­pires, pow­er­ful forces in their eth­nic com­mu­ni­ties. Both dap­per and mus­ta­chioed with com­mand­ing per­son­al­i­ties. And both wield­ing a po­tent in­flu­ence on the chil­dren who learned at their knees and fol­lowed them into the fam­ily busi­nesses.

But here’s the dif­fer­ence: Big Tommy D’Ale­san­dro jnr taught lit­tle Nancy how to count. Fred Trump taught Don­ald, from the time he was a baby, that he didn’t have to count – or be ac­count­able; Daddy’s money made him and buoyed him. Fred, a dic­ta­to­rial builder in Brook­lyn and Queens from Ger­man stock, and Big Tommy, a charm­ing Mary­land con­gress­man and mayor of Bal­ti­more from Ital­ian stock, are long gone. But their roles in shap­ing Don­ald and Nancy re­main vivid, bleed­ing into our pun­ish­ing, press­ing na­tional de­bate over im­mi­gra­tion, a gov­ern­ment shut­down and that in­escapable and vex­ing wall.

Dif­fer­ent vi­sions

At this fraught mo­ment when the pain of the shut­down is kick­ing in, Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump and House speaker Nancy Pelosi of­fer very dif­fer­ent vi­sions – shaped by their par­ents – of what it means to be an Amer­i­can. When Trump gave his Oval Of­fice ad­dress, the framed pho­to­graph of his dad was peer­ing over his shoul­der. In her House speaker’s of­fice in the Capi­tol, Pelosi dis­plays a photo of her­self at seven years of age, hold­ing the Bi­ble as her fa­ther is sworn in as Bal­ti­more mayor in 1947.

D’Ale­san­dro was a loyal New Deal Demo­crat, just as Pelosi – the first daugh­ter to fol­low her fa­ther into Con­gress – is a res­o­lute lib­eral. She grew up in a house with por­traits of FDR and Tru­man. Don­ald Trump spent most of his life as a po­lit­i­cal op­por­tunist, learn­ing from his dad that real es­tate de­vel­op­ers must lu­bri­cate both sides of the aisle. Trump was once friendly with Pelosi, send­ing her a note in 2007 when she won the speaker job the first time – with a boost from his $20,000 do­na­tion to the party – call­ing her “the best”.

In her mem­oir, Pelosi re­called that her Catholic par­ents “raised me to be holy”. She told me, “my mother and my fa­ther in­stilled in us, pub­lic ser­vice is a no­ble call­ing” and “never mea­sure a per­son by how much money they had”. A con­stant stream of strangers lined up at their house in Bal­ti­more’s Lit­tle Italy, seek­ing food and help. One of Pelosi’s most ar­rest­ing mem­o­ries, she told CNN’s Dana Bash, was giv­ing im­mi­grants who came to the door ad­vice on how to get into the projects or to the hos­pi­tal.

Alexan­dra, Pelosi’s doc­u­men­tar­ian daugh­ter, re­counts this anec­dote: Her son, Thomas – named after Big Tommy and who stood at the speaker’s side as she re­claimed her gavel – wanted an Xbox in 2017, so he set up a le­mon­ade stand in Man­hat­tan and raked in $1,000.

His grand­mother sat him down and asked, “that’s go­ing to the vic­tims of Hur­ri­cane Har­vey, right?” He set up the stand again the next year and was once more schooled by his grand­mother ask­ing, “that’s go­ing to the vic­tims of the Cal­i­for­nia wild­fires, right?” Con­trast that with Don jnr’s un­char­i­ta­ble mes­sage on In­sta­gram on Tues­day: “You know why you can en­joy a day at the zoo? Be­cause walls work.” Where the D’Ale­san­dros saw the down­trod­den and im­mi­grants as peo­ple to weave into the Amer­i­can dream, the Trumps saw suck­ers to squeeze. Ac­cord­ing to the Times’ block­buster tax in­ves­ti­ga­tion, Fred lav­ished Don­ald with three trust funds and $10,000 Christ­mas cheques. When Don­ald was eight years old, he was al­ready a mil­lion­aire, thanks to his tax-scam­ming fa­ther. Fred Trump was hauled be­fore a con­gres­sional panel in­ves­ti­gat­ing whether he had looted gov­ern­ment money through fraud. (One con­gress­man said the pa­tri­arch’s chi­canery made him “nau­seous”.)

By the time Don­ald was 27, he had ab­sorbed Trump fam­ily val­ues, a cal­lous in­ver­sion of no­blesse oblige: He and his fa­ther were get­ting sued by the jus­tice depart­ment for re­fus­ing to rent to blacks. As Woody Guthrie, who lived in a Fred Trump com­plex near Coney Is­land, wrote in a song, “I sup­pose/Old Man Trump knows/just how much/ra­cial hate/he stirred up/in the blood­pot of hu­man hearts.” Not quite the same as This Land Is Your Land.

Stumped

Fred’s favourite par­lour trick was cal­cu­lat­ing big num­bers in his head. But when Howard Stern had Don­ald, Ivanka and Don jnr on his show in 2006 and asked them a mul­ti­pli­ca­tion ques­tion, they were all stumped. Over the years, Fred fun­nelled tens of mil­lions of dol­lars to clean up Don­ald’s messes. The fa­ther even gave the son $3.5 mil­lion in chips to save an At­lantic City casino. By the time he was in his 40s, Don­nie’s al­lowance was more than $5 mil­lion an­nu­ally. No won­der he’s still an in­fant.

When Trump said he could “re­late” to fed­eral work­ers who are now go­ing with­out pay, it may have been the most au­da­cious lie he told all week. He may know what it’s like to go from bank­ruptcy to bank­ruptcy – though al­ways with a pa­ter­nal safety net – but he has no idea of what it’s like to live pay­check to pay­check, much less none at all.

As Pelosi told re­porters: “He thinks maybe they could just ask their fa­ther for more money. But they can’t.” She also lev­elled the barb on Trump in per­son. Pelosi is us­ing what she calls her “mother of five” voice on our tantrum-prone pres­i­dent, per­haps in an ef­fort to re­par­ent him. But how do you dis­ci­pline the world’s brat­ti­est 72-year-old? – New York Times

‘‘ How do you dis­ci­pline the world’s brat­ti­est 72-year-old?

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