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“Mike Tyson endorsed me,” Donald Trump told a crowd in Indianapolis shortly before the GOP primary. “You know, all the tough guys endorse me. I like that, OK?” He added, “When I get endorsed by the tough ones, I like it, because you know what? We need toughness now. We need toughness.” Point granted. But Tyson’s biggest connection to Indiana is that he raped a black beauty pageant contestant, Desiree Washington, there in 1992. He served three years for it. Probably not the best choice in the world for an endorser. But this reveals The Donald’s desperate desire to be seen as tough, precisely because he’s really just a bully—including the pansy component.
The pattern goes back to childhood. Trump biographer Michael D’Antonio describes young Donald as “a bullying and out-of-control little boy” so embarrassing to his father that at age 12, he was pulled out of his private school in Queens and shipped off to the brutal New York Military Academy, where, far from reforming, he latched onto an abusive drill sergeant as a role model. He’s been a bully ever since. And like most bullies, he likes to pick on people he thinks are too weak to fight back. I know a bit about tough guys.
During my second Iraq photojournalist embed my first firefight was with part of SEAL Team 3. Those are the guys in the film “American Sniper.” Two men in that fight were soon killed, while a third was blinded and later died. One won the Medal of Honor for throwing himself on a grenade when he was the only one in position to actually avoid the blast. As for me, a year prior to that fight I was disemboweled in Fallujah due to a war-related (but not combat-related) injury. I needed seven surgeries. As I write this I’m in a hospital recovery from surgery for yet another injury in Afghanistan. Donald Trump is no tough guy, and he keeps proving it. Thus we have his reverse Robin Hood fight against a five-foot-three widow, Vera Coking, whose house he desperately wanted so he could expand a parking lot next a casino. All the Trump’s money and all the Trump’s men couldn’t get her out. First he and the Atlantic City casino authority offered her money, about a fourth of what Penthouse Magazine publisher Bob Guccione had earlier offered her. Surprise! It didn’t work. So they filed a suit to seize the property under eminent domain. And lost, in a 1998 Supreme Court of New Jersey ruling. “It is a classic case of a schoolyard bully growing up,” said Clint Bolick, who co-founded the Institute for Justice that defended Coking. In 1996 Bold, Bold Sir Trump sued a New York Times reporter who challenged his net worth in a book. He lost that one, too, admitting that he determined his own worth from day to day based on feelings, nothing more than “feelings”—Morris Alpert book-keeping.
Trump also claimed Sen. John McCain was “not a war hero” but was considered one merely “because he was captured.” He added, “I like people that weren’t captured.” McCain, of course was only captured because he was shot down, something that happened a lot to our pilots in Vietnam—many of whom never came home. So I guess all those people I lost during the Battle of Ramadi, a lot more than just those SEALs, were “extra” non-heroes because they died. Trump, meanwhile sat out the Vietnam War with five deferments that might be described as “sissy.” But he claims he was at least as courageous as those who went.
In a 1997 interview with shock jock Howard Stern, Trump spoke of the alleged danger of promiscuity sans protection. “It is a dangerous world out there. It’s scary, like Vietnam. Sort of like the Vietnam-era,” Trump told Stern. “It is my personal Vietnam. I feel like a great and very brave soldier.” Words fail. So desperate is Trump that he goes back over a century to invoke an incident that never even happened. In numerous Trump stump speeches he tells of how, in the Philippine-American War of 1899-1902, General John “Blackjack” Pershing killed by firing squad 49 Muslim Moro soldiers with bullets dipped in pigs’ blood. “The fiftieth person, they said [sic], ‘Give him this bullet and bring to back [sic] to all of the people causing the problem.’” He added, “And for 42 years they didn’t have a problem.”
He was demonstrating that the U.S needed to get brutally tough on terrorism and he, the bane of widows, book authors, and warriors, is just the man to do it. But nobody has evidence the Pershing incident took place. To the contrary, the myth-busting site Snopes.com concluded, “We haven’t yet found any references to this alleged incident in Pershing biographies. “Nor does it match the way Pershing is generally recorded as having dealt with the Moros,” they added.
Fact is, Pershing was one of those “hearts and minds” softies. He knew that, unlike ISIS, the Moros had a real gripe in that the U.S. had promised to liberate the Philippines if its people revolted against Spain. They revolted and the U.S. essentially just transferred ownership. Pershing used bullets but also met with the Moros and read from the Koran with them. It takes a true tough guy to use carrots instead of cartridges.
We do need a president who understands carrots and cartridges. Goodness, who understands the job of commander-in-chief! It’s been awhile seen we’ve had one. But someone who derides real heroes and fights through lawyers? Sorry, Donald, you’re exactly what deep down inside you fear you are: just a big orange wimp with a permanent bad hair day.
Michael Fumento is a former paratrooper who went to Iraq and Afghanistan four times as a photojournalist. He’s a Colorado-based attorney and writer.