Sit and listen to everyone’s favourite walking, talking, hate-spewing presidential wannabe, Donald Trump, for any length of time, and it’s hard to know whether to laugh or cry at what you hear.
You’d think it would be a contradiction-in-terms for words to be at once totally nonsensical and jaw-droppingly offensive, but the Republican front-runner won’t let anything as minor as logic (or women, or Muslims, or 9/11 victims and their families) get in the way of his preposterous rampage towards the Oval Office and ultimate glory this autumn.
For anyone watching the race unfold from a safe distance on this side of the pond, it can be all too tempting to see Trump as little more than a harmless clown – a sort of expensively coiffed, stars and stripes-waving, trans-Atlantic version of Boris Johnson. The truth is rather more depressing.
By way of proof, here’s our round-up of Trump’s greatest gaffes, biggest blunders and most sordid scandals. Consider it a helpful reminder for why you might want to evacuate the planet come this November, should the unthinkable happen and Trump actually take up tenancy of the White House.
[Images: Ron Sachs, Rex, Getty, Shutterstock]
The Cosby Showdown
Trump couldn’t exactly be accused of being a good judge of character. Like that time he described his pal Jeffrey Epstein – who had been recently convicted of human trafficking – as a “terrific guy” for example. Or perhaps more bizarrely still, when he berated former Cosby Show actress Keshia Knight Pulliam for not leveraging her relationship with Bill Cosby to succeed in a task on Celebrity Apprentice. Her excuse: Cosby was facing a raft of well-publicised and highly-damaging rape allegations. Trump’s response: “You’re fired”.
The 9/11 Tweet
You’ve got to hand it to the man – it takes a special brand of brutishness and insensitivity to turn even a message of quiet condolence into an almost farcically offensive post. Possibly in an attempt to show his all-encompassing compassion, Trump extended his best wishes on the 12th anniversary of September 11 even to the “haters and losers” on this “special day”. What better way to honour those who lost their lives that day than by calling out his detractors on social media? It’s the kind of tact that should stand him in good stead in matters of international diplomacy.
The University Of Lies
Back in 2005, the ever-philanthropic Donald opened the humbly named Trump University – a business school where students paid up to $35,000 to learn the tricks of Trump’s trade. Unfortunately for them, those tricks included setting up a university without an educational license (the school was eventually forced to change its name to the Trump Entrepreneur Initiative), and scamming students out of their cash. The lawsuits against Trump U continue, including from a New York appeals court which claims Trump has suckered attendees out of a collective $40 million.
The Mexican Wall
In the most recent series of Fox/Netflix comedy Arrested Development, the idea of building a wall between the US and Mexico is a long-running joke at the heart of a laughably unrealistic plot-line. In the most recent series of speeches from Donald Trump, however, that very same wall isn’t just a deadly serious prospect, but a pillar of the billionaire businessman’s entire campaign. And in a turn of events too preposterous even for professional comedy writers, Trump would have the Mexicans themselves front the cash to pay for the thing.
The Casual Sexism
Don’t worry guys, Trump “cherishes” women, he said so himself. Then again, he also described Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly as a “bimbo”, Rosie O’Donnell as a “pig”, Sarah Jessica Parker as the least sexy woman alive, as well as letting loose on Bette Midler’s “ugly face and body”. But hey, who cares, it’s not like women make up half the electorate/population.
The Unashamed Islamophobia
President Obama – you know, the level-headed chap who lives in that big white house in Washington DC – has consistently assured Americans that ISIS does not pose an existential threat to the United States. Nice try Barack! You’re not going to fool our Donald that easily! Trump is convinced that “tens of thousands of people” are entering the States with “cell phones with ISIS flags on them”. His solution? “A total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.” What’s going on, Don, is that you’re unabashedly legitimising Islamophobia, and it’s terrifying.
The White Supremacy Retweets
According to social media analytics firm Little Bird, 62% of the accounts that Donald Trump had retweeted in the early stages of his campaign (like the one pictured above) had white supremacist connections. In just one mid-January week, in fact, 19 of the 21 people Trump deemed worthy of a social media big-up either followed major white nationalist accounts or ones that had used the #whitegenocide hashtag. Whether Trump is actively going after the KKK vote or whether the most vicious racists in America just so happen to be drawn to the mega mogul’s ramblings, it doesn’t exactly bode well for a country where racial tensions continue to play such a divisive role.
The Army Of Illegal Immigrants
For someone who is so keen to keep undocumented immigrants out of his country, Trump is surprisingly comfortable with the idea of letting them work for his various companies. During the construction of Trump Tower (and the demolition of the Bonwit Tower that previously stood in its place), some 200 Polish workers were hired to take on the manual labour. Most were paid a measly $5 an hour, others nothing at all, with many sleeping rough on the building site itself and made to work without hard hats. Trump denied all knowledge, though the federal judge who found Trump guilty of exactly that patently disagreed.
The Mafia Connections
Working in the construction industry in 1980s New York, it arguably would have been difficult to avoid having any dealings with the mafia bosses who controlled the city’s concrete business at the time. But if a string of allegations over the years is to believed, Trump has had more dealings than most, and more intimately than he would care to admit. Trump has faced these accusations in court on more than one occasion, and never been found of any wrongdoing. But the scandals – such as his paying double the market value for the land on which he built Trump Plaza in Atlantic City to a known mob member – cast a dark shadow over his business credentials.
The Alleged Violent Misogyny
Trump’s casual sexism has, in the past, turned to something altogether more aggressive, according to his ex-wife. During a deposition, Ivana Trump described an instance where she “felt violated” after Donald allegedly forced himself upon her. She later explained that she did not want her words “to be interpreted in a literal or criminal sense.” Trump may come across like a comic-book villain, but a Trump presidency would be anything but comic.