Donald Trump is extraordinarily vindictive, and he makes no secret of it. He promotes it. He brags about it.
This is an extremely dangerous trait in a president.
We've had few presidents much associated with vindictiveness. Richard Nixon had a streak of it. But not many. Most have recognized the danger of a president taken over by the desire to get back at someone, whether for personal or national reasons, without considering the real political and policy implications. Most of our presidents have had at least a moderate amount of self-control.
Not Donald Trump. At the first, slightest slight, his first impulse is to strike back, however he can.
Richard Branson, the billionaire, got a view of this. He described a lunch with Trump:
Even before the starters arrived he began telling me about how he had asked a number of people for help after his latest bankruptcy and how five of them were unwilling to help. He told me he was going to spend the rest of his life destroying these five people.
He didn't speak about anything else and I found it very bizarre. I told him I didn’t think it was the best way of spending his life. I said it was going to eat him up, and do more damage to him than them. There must be more constructive ways to spend the rest of your life. (Hopefully my advice didn’t lead to him running for President!)
I was baffled why he had invited me to lunch solely to tell me this. For a moment, I even wondered if he was going to ask me for financial help. If he had, I would have become the sixth person on his list!
Afterward, Branson wrote that "What concerns me most, based upon my personal experiences with Donald Trump, is his vindictive streak, which could be so dangerous if he got into the White House."
Many of the people who have crossed his path could testify to as much. As Raw Story reported a couple of days ago, "during a public appearance, Trump vowed to sue all 12 women who have recently accused him of sexual misconduct as soon as the election is over—which might seem not so unreasonable had he not explicitly bragged about such behavior in 2005. But Trump didn’t stop there. He threatened to sue The New York Times for publishing the women’s stories, and if his lawsuit history tells us anything, it’s that these are unlikely to be just empty promises."
Do something he doesn't like, and he'll likely vow to sue you. Mostly these are empty bluffs, but even so he has been involved over the years in more than 3,000 lawsuits - surely a clear indicator of vengefulness.
In the case of lawsuits, at least, the courts will provide some barriers to outright loopiness. Make the man president, and the limitations come off - and won't be limited to the courts. Criticize the president, as many Americans so traditionally do, and - historically - you get no official blowback. Don't count on that if you get a President Trump: Who knows what may land on you?
Salon has even suggested this is his strongest motivation to become president: "Increasingly, the evidence is pointing to a certain conclusion: Donald Trump is running for president because he believes the power and fame of the White House will allow him to settle the score in his ever-expanding list of petty grievances."
The danger from a President Trump, to any of us, would know hardly any limits.
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