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Hullabaloo


Sunday, March 13, 2016

 
Trump's revenge

by digby
















The level of hatred Trump feels for President Obama can't be overstated. In that he's not much different than his followers but in his case it's personal. This story in the New York Times by Maggie Haberman and Alexander Burns exposes how Obama's humiliation of him at the White House Correspondence dinner propelled him to mount a serious campaign for president:

Donald J. Trump arrived at the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner in April 2011, reveling in the moment as he mingled with the political luminaries who gathered at the Washington Hilton. He made his way to his seat beside his host, Lally Weymouth, the journalist and socialite daughter of Katharine Graham, longtime publisher of The Washington Post.

A short while later, the humiliation started.

The annual dinner features a lighthearted speech from the president; that year, President Obama chose Mr. Trump, then flirting with his own presidential bid, as a punch line.

He lampooned Mr. Trump’s gaudy taste in décor. He ridiculed his fixation on false rumors that the president had been born in Kenya. He belittled his reality show, “The Celebrity Apprentice.”

Mr. Trump at first offered a drawn smile, then a game wave of the hand. But as the president’s mocking of him continued and people at other tables craned their necks to gauge his reaction, Mr. Trump hunched forward with a frozen grimace.

After the dinner ended, Mr. Trump quickly left, appearing bruised. He was “incredibly gracious and engaged on the way in,” recalled Marcus Brauchli, then the executive editor of The Washington Post, but departed “with maximum efficiency.”

That evening of public abasement, rather than sending Mr. Trump away, accelerated his ferocious efforts to gain stature within the political world. And it captured the degree to which Mr. Trump’s campaign is driven by a deep yearning sometimes obscured by his bluster and bragging: a desire to be taken seriously.

That desire has played out over the last several years within a Republican Party that placated and indulged him, and accepted his money and support, seemingly not grasping how fervently determined he was to become a major force in American politics. In the process, the party bestowed upon Mr. Trump the kind of legitimacy that he craved, which has helped him pursue a credible bid for the presidency.

“Everybody has a little regret there, and everybody read it wrong,” said David Keene, a former chairman of the American Conservative Union, an activist group Mr. Trump cultivated. Of Mr. Trump’s rise, Mr. Keene said, “It’s almost comical, except it’s liable to end up with him as the nominee.”

Repeatedly underestimated as a court jester or silly showman, Mr. Trump muscled his way into the Republican elite by force of will. He badgered a skittish Mitt Romney into accepting his endorsement on national television, and became a celebrity fixture at conservative gatherings. He abandoned his tightfisted inclinations and cut five- and six-figure checks in a bid for clout as a political donor. He courted conservative media leaders as deftly as he had the New York tabloids.

At every stage, members of the Republican establishment wagered that they could go along with Mr. Trump just enough to keep him quiet or make him go away. But what party leaders viewed as generous ceremonial gestures or ego stroking of Mr. Trump — speaking spots at gatherings, meetings with prospective candidates and appearances alongside Republican heavyweights — he used to elevate his position and, eventually, to establish himself as a formidable figure for 2016.

In an interview on Friday, Mr. Trump acknowledged that he had encountered many who doubted or dismissed him before now. “I realized that unless I actually ran, I wouldn’t be taken seriously,” he said. But he denied having been troubled by Mr. Obama’s derision.

“I loved that dinner,” Mr. Trump said, adding, “I can handle criticism.”

Read on to see, step by step, how he got himself taken seriously. And then it was too late.


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