Yesterday President Obama responded to Donald Trump’s pre-emptive complaints about an election “rigged” against him, saying the Republican presidential nomineee should “stop whining and go try to make his case to get votes.” Obama added that “if you start whining before the game’s even over, if whenever things are going badly for you and you lose, you start blaming somebody else, then you don’t have what it takes to be in this job.”
Is Obama right that Trump is a big whiny baby? After a careful, dispassionate examination of the facts, I am compelled to conclude that the president’s charge holds up. A selection of Trump’s finest whines:
1. In 2012, 2013, and 2014, Trump complained that the Emmys were rigged against him and his show The Apprentice. “The Emmys are all politics,” he tweeted in 2012. “That’s why, despite nominations, The Apprentice never won—even though it should have many times over.” He repeated the complaint the next year: “I should have many Emmys for The Apprentice if the process were fair.” And the year after that: “Which is worse and which is more dishonest—the #Oscars or the Emmys?”
2. Trump began a July 2015 interview on MSNBC’s Morning Joe by complaining that the show’s hosts were not talking about him enough: “I was just listening to you, and you know we all love you and Mika [Brzezinski], but I was listening to you talking about Bush and Rubio and a couple of others, and you sort of forgot to mention my name, even though I’m creaming them all in the polls. I don’t understand what you’re doing.” Co-host Joe Scarborough was astonished. “What are you talking about?” he asked, laughing in disbelief. “What are you talking about, Donald? How thin is your skin? I’ve been talking about you for a week.”
3. At the Republican presidential debate in August 2015, co-moderator Megyn Kelly of Fox News brought up Trump’s derogatory comments about women he does not like (“fat pig,” “dog,” “slob,” “disgusting animal,” etc.), asking how they reflect on his temperament. “Oftentimes it’s fun, it’s kidding,” he replied, saying he has no time for political correctness. “Honestly Megyn, if you don’t like it, I’m sorry,” he added. “I’ve been very nice to you, although I could probably maybe not be, based on the way you have treated me. But I wouldn’t do that.” Later he described Kelly as unhinged, saying “you could see there was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever.” He called her a “lightweight” and a “bimbo, ” and he announced that he would protest her treatment of him by boycotting future debates on Fox.
4. After Ted Cruz won the Iowa caucus in February, Trump complained that “the media has not covered my long-shot great finish in Iowa fairly.” After Cruz won the Wisconsin primary in April, the Trump campaign complained that “the party bosses” were “attempting to steal the nomination from Mr. Trump,” using Cruz as a “Trojan horse.” After Cruz won all 34 of Colorado’s delegates, Trump complained that “the system is rigged; it’s crooked.” His convention manager said the Cruz campaign had used “Gestapo tactics.” Conservative commentator Ben Stein, a Trump supporter, said the billionaire bully’s campaign had simply failed to understand the rules for securing delegates in Colorado, adding that the candidate’s “whiny bitchiness” made him look like “a big sulky baby.”
5. Irked by questions about his fundraising for veterans, Trump called a press conference last June to denounce political reporters as “disgusting” and “among the most dishonest people that I have ever met.” Saying “the press should be ashamed of themselves,” he called one reporter a “sleaze” and another “a real beauty.”
6. In an interview with Fox Business host Lou Dobbs a couple of weeks later, Trump complained that no one has ever been more poorly treated by the press. “Ronald Reagan went through a lot, but people say it wasn’t as bad as this,” he said. “I’ll have something where I think it’s a big victory day, and I’ll read about it the next day in the newspapers, and it’s, like, terrible news….The dishonesty of the media is beyond belief. It’s beyond belief….I will tell you, I’ve never seen more unfair press coverage.”
7. After Khizr Khan, father of a Muslim soldier killed in Iraq, suggested during a speech at the Democratic National Convention in July that Trump should bone up on the Constitution, Trump said Khan “has no right to stand in front of millions of people and claim I have never read the Constitution (which is false) and say many other inaccurate things.” Trump added on Twitter: “Mr. Khan, who does not know me, viciously attacked me from the stage of the DNC and is now all over T.V. doing the same – Nice!”
8. “She spent hundreds of millions of dollars on negative ads on me, many of which are absolutely untrue,” Trump complained during his first debate with Hillary Clinton. “It’s not nice, and I don’t deserve that. But it’s certainly not a nice thing that she’s done. It’s hundreds of millions of ads.”
9. After Martha Raddatz, co-moderator of the second debate between Trump and Clinton, asked the Democratic nominee about her “extremely careless” email practices as secretary of state, Trump asked, “Why aren’t you bringing up the emails? I’d like to know.” When co-moderator Anderson Cooper noted that “we brought up the emails,” Trump insisted that they hadn’t. “Nice,” he said sarcastically. “One on three.”
10. During the second debate, Trump complained that Clinton was getting more time to speak. “You know what’s funny?” he said. “She went over a minute over, and you don’t stop her. When I go one second over, it’s like a big deal….Why don’t you interrupt her? You interrupt me all the time.” CNN found that Trump actually got to speak about a minute longer than Clinton during the debate.
Although Trump insists he is not thin-skinned, he does cop to whining. “I am the most fabulous whiner,” he told CNN last year. “I do whine because I want to win. And I’m not happy if I’m not winning. And I am a whiner. And I’m a whiner, and I keep whining and whining until I win. And I’m going to win for the country and I’m going to make our country great again.” Should Trump’s strategy fail, America will have to muddle through as best it can. But at least we will be spared Whine Until You Win, the otherwise inevitable sequel to The Art of the Deal.