Though we didn’t see evidence 17 months ago when Donald Trump descended the escalator at Trump Tower to announce his candidacy for the presidency, the New Yorker was packing a memory bank full of grudges that, over time, were unleashed in every direction.
In the ensuing weeks and months he began acting on those grudges with abandon, lashing out at almost every member of the Bush family — in bizarre fashion, with accusations of causing or allowing 9/11 to happen — slamming comedian Rosie O’Donnell (who dissed him on the “The View” way back in 2006), and criticizing Sen. John McCain, Mitt Romney, Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly and a long list of others.
Way back in August 2015, Trump shed some light on his grudge-holding habit. That same month in Iowa, Trump first encountered a Univision reporter who, without being called on, repeatedly asked Trump to elaborate on his immigration policy. The reporter was removed and banned by Trump thereafter. Later that month a reporter with USA Today asked him about that incident and Trump told the news outlet, “When people treat me unfairly, I don’t let them forget it.”
This ugly, grudge-holding side of Trump has resurfaced frequently throughout the campaign and turned dust-ups into doomsday battles when Trump combines his emotional reactions with social media posts that just make things worse. Trump’s over-the-top tweets against a former Miss Universe after the first presidential debate were downright scary when you consider what he might do, as president, if somebody in another country with a military treats him “unfairly.”
Trump seems incapable of absorbing criticism and unable to accept the reality that some people don’t support him, don’t like him or peel away from him after he goes all werewolf on them. Trump has simply let his grudges get the best of him.
Now that a host of GOP officials have begun to bail on Trump to various degrees — including people such as Sen. Mike Crapo, Rep. Mike Simpson and House Speaker Paul Ryan — Trump is tossing his grudge rhetoric indiscriminately at anyone within range.
Though he’s running against Hillary Clinton and not Ryan, he can’t find the restraint or fortitude to focus on his race. Instead, he must feed some inner urge to lash out at those who dare to question him.
I’ve often wondered where Trump would be if someone had taught him early in life about the toxicity of holding grudges and getting even at all costs.
I’ve wondered how many votes and polling points he might have gained by keeping his mouth shut, smiling instead of snarling, projecting poise instead of pride.
What would his opponents and enemies and critics have to work with if he just stayed on the message that things are broken in Washington and he’s got some out-of-the-box, anti-establishment ideas about fixing them?
We will never know because the grudges have power over Trump and he is surrounded by people who don’t respect him enough to stand up to him.