Politics - News Analysis
Biographer Reveals Trump Was a Vicious Bully as a Child Who Threw Rocks at Babies
According to a biography of Donald Trump, the current president was a little bully who loved to pull girls hair and once threw rocks at a toddler in his playpen.
Trump was a loud-mouthed classroom know-it-all who could never admit he was wrong and boasted of giving his music teacher a black eye. He was also a show-off who yearned to hear the crowd’s applause . . . but who would smash his baseball bat in fury if he didn’t win.
Arrogant, over-bearing, thin-skinned, mean, and not exactly great with the ladies — sounds familiar, huh?
According to Trump Revealed, a biography compiled by Washington Post journalists who spoke to dozens of people who knew Trump as a child, the president was an absolute terror. The psychological resemblance to the adult Trump is uncanny, and not a little disconcerting.
Born in June 1946, Trump was the fourth of five children to Fred Trump, a ruthless Queens builder and property developer, and his Scottish-born wife, Mary, an immigrant who had fled poverty on the Isle of Lewis and met Fred at a dance in New York. Trump Sr was a dour, authoritarian patriarch who dressed in a jacket and tie even at home.
A workaholic, he was already very rich by the time Donald arrived. They lived in a 23-room, red-brick, mock Georgian mansion in the well-to-do Jamaica Estates neighborhood of Queens.
They were the envy of their neighbors with a chauffeur, cook, color television, intercom system and two Cadillacs (virtually nobody had one back then but, of course, the showy Trumps had two).
Donald — with his ten-speed Italian racing bike and a huge, elaborate model train set — made the local children green with envy.
He clearly left an impression on his neighbors, classmates and teachers because so many could remember at least one chilling anecdote about him 60 years later.
Dennis Burnham, who lived next door, was a toddler when his mother briefly put him in a playpen in their garden. She returned a few minutes later to find the current U.S. president, then aged five or six, standing at his fence throwing rocks at the little boy.
His mother warned Dennis to “stay away from the Trumps” as they didn’t want him “beaten up” by the family bully.
Another neighbor, Steven Nachtigall, now a 66-year-old doctor, said he never forgot Trump, a “loudmouth bully”, once jumping off his bike and beating up another boy.
The disturbing image remained in his brain decades later, he said, because “it was so unusual and terrifying at that age”.
Young Donald — whose nicknames at school included Donny, The Trumpet and Flat Top (for the blond pompadour hairstyle he had even as a child) — picked mercilessly on his own little brother, Robert, a quiet and sensitive child.
The future real estate tycoon later liked to boast how he once stole Robert’s building blocks and, so pleased with what he built, glued them together so his brother could never use them again.
With his siblings, Donald went to a private primary school called Kew-Fores, where he quickly became notorious for being unruly, going around with a gang of boys who pulled girls’ hair and talked during class.
“He was so headstrong and determined,” recalled former teacher Ann Trees. “He would sit with his arms folded with this look on his face — I used the word surly — almost daring you to say one thing or another that wouldn’t settle with him.”
It’s an image that anyone who knows Trump can easily imagine.
Another classmate recalled a boy who would never admit he was wrong, no matter how trivial the subject. “He had a reputation for saying anything that came into his head,” he added.
Trump spent so much time in detention that the punishment was nicknamed “DT” in his honor.
When he was seven, he yanked classmate Sharon Mazzarella’s pigtails. She chased him downstairs and smashed him over the head with her metal lunchbox.
Trump admits he was a troublemaker in elementary school. “I liked to stir things up and I liked to test people,” he said years later. “It wasn’t malicious so much as it was aggressive.” Trump bragged for a long time that, aged eight, he almost got expelled for giving his music teacher a black eye “because I didn’t think he knew anything about music”.
However, it later emerged he had exaggerated. The teacher, Charles Walker, remembered Trump as supremely attention-seeking. Told on his deathbed that Trump was running for president, he reportedly remarked that even at ten, Donny had been a “little s**t”.
Trump’s home life offers clues to his fierce competitiveness and limited social skills at school.
Mustachioed Trump Sr. was a tight-fisted and sour disciplinarian who was determined to toughen up his sons so they could follow him into a life as a ruthless businessman.
The children were banned from having pets or calling each other nicknames at home, and were urged to earn pocket money by collecting empty bottles for their deposits. Donald and his brothers needed to be “killers” in everything they did, he urged.
In 1959, 13-year-old Donald was packed off to New York Military Academy, a strict Army-style boarding school 70 miles outside the city. Some have speculated that Trump never got over such a harsh banishment by the father he tried so hard to emulate.
“When I look at myself in first grade [aged six] and I look at myself now, I’m basically the same,” Trump told a biographer.
“The temperament is not that different.”
From most other adults, such an observation would sound endearing, maybe cute. But, as he stands with his finger on the nuclear trigger, as President of the United States, it’s more than a little terrifying.