Trump and the Laws of the Street

My mother and father were having a discussion. I was about 13 and had just come home after being beaten up by a gang of suburban thugs on my newspaper route.  My mother said it was time for eye-for-an-eye street justice.  My father disagreed.  As I have noted, both were born and grew in the Bronx in New York.

 

“We’ve got to do it,” my mother argued. “You grew up in the Bronx; you know what it’s like on the streets.”

 

“Yes, but that’s why we moved here;” he replied, “to get away from all that.”

 

“Well it’s followed us here!” she yelled back.

 

It was true. My attackers were born in the aptly-named Hell’s Kitchen section of Manhattan in New York, the West Side of West Side story just before Lincoln Center was built, the neighborhood was gentrified, and the residents were forced out to the suburbs.  Then again, my maternal grandfather was born in Red Hook, Brooklyn, and grew up in Hell’s Kitchen at a time when the Irish and Italian gangs were battling for the streets.

 

My younger brother had gone out to track down one of the gang members. By the “laws of the street” you only needed to get one (especially if you were outnumbered); my older brother had come outside with me at the end of my parents’ discussion to start creating the same ice-balls with which they had pummeled me.  They’d also kicked and punched me once they got me to the ground (a most terrifying moment).  But ice balls would suffice.

 

My younger brother came home with one of the rats of Hell’s Kitchen Bend. Only it was a brother, who hadn’t been part of the attack.  The moment had come but I hesitated.  My brothers urged me on.  Could I really pummel someone who, at least marginally, was innocent.

 

It was like having a pair of those cartoon angels on your shoulder – an angel and a devil. The angel (in my father’s voice) said vengeance was never right, especially when delivered upon an innocent person.  The devil (Mom!) said I could look upon it as sending a message “home” to this gang that we weren’t “weak”.  In any case, if I didn’t do it, I’d certainly be beaten up again.  Fighting back was the only way to put a stop to it.

 

That settled the matter. I pummeled him – with my brothers cheering me on – until his face was as raw and bleeding and tear-stained as mine had been an hour before.  When I thought he’d had enough, I stopped.

 

“There!” I said. “Go home now and tell your brothers and your friends, don’t you ever touch me again!”  I stood down his stares until he disappeared around our bend (our road was full of them, like a goat path).

 

They never bothered me again.

 

My mother exulted; my father despaired, though I suppose he didn’t want to see his daughter beaten up again by a gang, either. I also sharpened my tongue, another skill my father (the first college graduate in his family) was sorry to see me acquire.  But again, it staved off the bullies (along with a male sixth grade teacher who had some backbone) who hadn’t the slightest idea what a “benighted sluggard” – or something like that – was.  The boy at whom this was aimed had to ask the teacher what a “benighted sluggard.”  The answer?  “You are.”

 

If you can’t silence them, you can at least leave them speechlessly slack-jawed. The tactic buys you a few minutes of peace.  Again, my father was unhappy.  An English major and a writer, he loved the English language and wanted me to find better uses for my growing vocabulary than a sword with which to cut tormentors to pieces.

 

Educated pundits are dismayed at the low level of campaign dialogue that has resulted since Marco Rubio learned to fight like a kid from the Bronx. They can take comfort in this:  at least he’s not fighting like a thug from Hell’s Kitchen.

 

All the pundits and networks seem to have forgotten that Trump started this type of exchange. They actually laughed at the insults which Trump spewed.  They agreed with street fighter Christie when he belittled Rubio for repeating himself.  Now that Rubio has gotten down in the mud, where Trump and Christie reigned, they’re discomfited.  They don’t like it.

 

Their world has been turned upside down. Rubio, for his part, is enjoying it – and why shouldn’t he?  He’s got nothing in the world to lose – every poll says he won’t win the nomination.  He’s having great fun.  Meanwhile, Ted Cruz just stands back and smiles.  Go, Marco!

 

Marco is 5’10”. Not very tall.  Born in Miami, Fla.  Age 44.  Ted Cruz is 5’8, born in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, mother U.S.-born and U.S. citizen at time of his birth.  Age 45. Donald Trump is an even 6’.05” tall, not 6’2”.  Age 69.

 

Rubio and Cruz look young, but they’re 44 and 45, respectively, more than old enough to run for president. John F. Kennedy was 43, the youngest man to be elected; Theodore Roosevelt was the youngest man to be inaugurated President of the United States.  Theoretically, if Cruz were to win the general election, he would be 45 at election and 46 at inauguration.  Marco Rubio will be 45 in May of this year.

 

They would not fall in the “Youngest Presidents” category (40-44), but in the next category. The greatest number of U.S. presidents have served in the 50-54 and 55-59 categories.  Donald Trump will be 70 in May and there is no precedent – not even Ronald Reagan – for having begun office at the age of 70.  Reagan was mere weeks shy of his 70th birthday.  But still.

 

Cruz and Rubio are not at all “too young” but Trump is definitely on the old side of the bell curve. Way over on that side.  Trump, to be sure, is a vigorous man.  But he is low-brow and it is all too easy to defeat him in that sort of street language, schoolyard type of exchange.  All Rubio needed to do was find Trump’s Achilles’ Heel – which turned out to be his “Achilles Hand” – and he could take him, if not down and out, at least down a few notches.

 

The “lightweight” “boy” from Miami has finally learned (if a little late) how to fight like he’s from the Bronx. It won’t avail him, but Cruz could well benefit by it where he’s been falling behind Trump.

 

Rubio must keep at Trump incessantly and not be put off by Trump’s seemingly dismissive attitude. That’s just posturing on Trump’s part to prove how tough he is, that he’s impervious to all assaults.  Depend upon it, he has feet of clay, just like everyone else.

 

Where others have tried and failed to assault Trump with attacks on his bankruptcies (guys, his followers can see he’s still in business), his taxes (no one would care, only he shoots himself in the foot by Tweeting, ‘My friends in business are never audited, but I’ve been audited for 12 years. Why?), Rubio’s grade school attacks are beginning to hit a nerve.

 

Where Trump could make good arguments for his credibility as a businessman (he’s notoriously meticulous, a perfectionist whose plane had to remain on the tarmac until the galley floor, which had been mislaid by mere fractions of an inch, was torn up and re-laid to his perfectionist standards) he relies on one-word, exclamation mark adjectives that say nothing.

 

“Fantastic!” “Great!” “Amazing!”

 

“What a dope!” from a Trump tweet about Mitt Romney.

 

Glenn Beck foolishly almost handed Trump ammunition when he related that when he left his Trump hotel room early because (I believe) his father died, Trump personally made a follow-up phone call to find out the reason for his departure and whether there was anything he could have done about.

 

Fortunately, Trump was too foolish himself to catch the error and follow up on it. Trump’s personal follow-up call was actually quite impressive.  That’s what a good business owner does.  If something is wrong and a customer may be dissatisfied, the good owner personally inquires to find out if his company had done something wrong and find out what he could do to make amends.  This is especially true with a high-profile client like Glenn Beck.

 

But the inarticulate Trump did not catch on (to our good fortune) to something he could have made a lot of hay out of. Please don’t do that again, Glenn.

 

The best ammunition are his Democrat donations (keeping in mind that all businesses are subject to campaign finance rules that dictate donations to both parties, although not necessarily in the same quanitity), his vulgar references to women, and his own statement that “President Trump will not be Candidate Trump.”

 

He can deny that statement all he wants. But I saw it and, as a Tea Party person, was furious.  That mistake cost him my potential vote.  Not that I would have voted him in the nomination; my guy is good old reliable Ted Cruz.  But I might have considered Trump as a secondary choice.  Not anymore.  Now that choice is Marco Rubio.

 

That’s what I think as a child of the Bronx (and a grandchild of Brooklyn and Hell’s Kitchen), raised amongst other children of New York City parentage. Middle Class, Middle America is understandably appalled by this type of behavior.

 

Trash talking instead of serious debates. Ted Cruz tried talking about the Constitution; it went right over the heads of Trumpsters.  Was he running for President or for the Supreme Court?  Why did Rubio allow Chris Christie to steamroller him?

 

Because he wasn’t from New York or from the weeds of suburban New Jersey, the Garden State of Transplanted New Yorkers, descendants of Italian, Irish and some German immigrants. Rubio just didn’t understand the rules, that’s all.  But he’s learning.

 

Rubio let his Florida constituents down and now he must pay the price in almost certainly losing Florida to Trump. But he can at least have the satisfaction of sticking it to Trump.  What good fortune that Christie dropped out of the race.  There’s nothing he can do now to help his boss, Trump, whom I understand has sent him packing back to New Jersey for some reason, against Rubio.

 

Trump is too old a bunny to long fend off Rubio’s wittier comebacks. He may gain some sympathy from his staunchest supporters.  But a man can’t be continually laughed at before his supporters begin to suspect some inexorable weakness.

 

Even if Trump survives Rubio (and Cruz) to win the GOP nomination, he’s no match for Hillary and her League of Nightclub Comics. Rubio will seem a “lightweight” compared to them.

 

Literary grade mark of this post: Halfway through Sixth Grade.

 

Sorry, Dad.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Published in: on February 29, 2016 at 1:32 pm  Leave a Comment  

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