How Trump’s Need for Vengeance Is Killing His Campaign
Policy + Politics

How Trump’s Need for Vengeance Is Killing His Campaign

REUTERS/Brian Snyder

Donald Trump is notoriously thin-skinned. And when provoked, he tends to overreact wildly.

His latest fit of pique is over comments that Mika Brzezinski of MSNBC’s Morning Joe made about a speech Trump gave in Virginia a few days ago in which she said he delivered it “as if he’s had a lot to drink.”

An unfortunate comment, since Trump’s brother, an alcoholic, died at age 43, prompting Trump to swear off booze for life. But instead of letting it go, Trump aimed a bazooka at Brzezinski and her insensitive comment.

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This morning at 7:21, he tweeted:

But he didn’t stop there. Eight minutes later, he tweeted:

Taking shots at Joe Scarborough and co-host Brzezinski isn’t going to cost Trump many if any, votes, but his apparent inability to move past slights without exacting revenge keeps damaging his candidacy and giving voters pause. Among the petty grievances that he couldn’t leave alone:

The Kahn Controversy: After the Muslim father of an Army Captain killed in Afghanistan criticized Trump at the Democratic National Convention, Trump responded harshly instead of just letting it go. In doing so, he turned a moment that most voters no doubt missed into a damaging national spectacle that brought a flood of rebukes, including one from the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

Raising McCain: The Kahn flare-up prompted John McCain to take Trump to task and that reminded those who had forgotten that early on in his campaign, the mogul, who never served in the military, had said the Arizona senator was “not a war hero.” Trump had dismissed McCain as a “loser” and a “dummy” after McCain was critical of an anti-immigration rally Trump held in Phoenix last summer.

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The “Mexican” Judge: Angered that Indiana-born federal Judge Gonzalo Curiel issued a ruling in a lawsuit against the now defunct Trump University, the candidate spent 12 minutes at a rally last May in San Diego excoriating the jurist, calling him a “hater” and suggesting he should recuse himself from the case because he’s of Mexican heritage. His remarks set off a wave of criticism, including from members of his own party.

“Little” Marco: After a string of Trump digs about GOP primary rival Marco Rubio’s profuse sweating, the senator from Florida struck back, crudely suggesting that Trump’s small fingers signal a size problem elsewhere. Trump responded by referring to the none-too-tall Rubio as “Little” Marco. Now one of the only paths to victory for Trump leads through Florida, and he will need Rubio’s support.

Related: Election 2016: Will It All Be About Florida Again?

How much is Trump driven by revenge?

A column in Salon last spring suggested that Trump has the knives out for Mexico because a project there with his name on it failed and he had to settle a lawsuit. It also theorized that he regularly bashes China because the Hong Kong investors who bailed him out of a Manhattan real estate project later treated him disrespectfully.

What’s most astounding is the notion, also floated in Salon, that Trump may be running for president because he was the butt of jokes President Obama told at the 2011 White House Correspondents Dinner. His ego bruised, Trump stepped up his attacks on Obama and his political activity after the ribbing.

Winning the presidency, then, would be the ultimate revenge.