Gail Collins: The Trumps, the poodle, the sex scandal
By Gail Collins
The New York Times
Monday, October 16, 2017
Thanks to Ivana Trump’s new memoir, we now know that Donald Trump once did have a dog. Well, actually it was Ivana’s. A poodle named Chappy. And Donald didn’t like him.
Nevertheless, this appears to be the closest our current president ever came to having a pet, so attention must be paid.
This is possibly the biggest insight in “Raising Trump,” by Donald’s first ex-wife. (We are not going to go into her contention that people who have been married more than 10 years seldom have sex more than “a few times a month.”)
I’m sort of presuming that you’re not going to read it, despite the fact that it includes several recipes. So let me summarize. The book is supposed to be about good parenting. But the most important thing you learn is that we can never say another mean thing about Donald Jr. again. Really, it sounds like the worst childhood ever. His story begins with Dad resisting the idea of naming the baby after him, in case his first born turned out to be “a loser.”
As a toddler, Don Jr. broke his leg due to a negligent baby sitter. Then one day when Ivana was out of town, he and Eric called hysterically to report they had found their nanny unconscious in the basement. (She died.)
Wait, there’s more: During their infamous divorce, Dad sent a bodyguard from his office to get Junior, announcing: “You’re not getting him back. I’m going to bring him up myself.”
Ivana says she responded: “OK, keep him. I have two other kids to raise.” Silence and 10 minutes later the bodyguard returned her son.
It was, Trump’s ex-wife concluded, “a tactic to upset me.” However for some reason, at around this time Don Jr. stopped speaking to his father and wound up getting shipped to boarding school.
After several more years of being the namesake of a man who was then famous for starring in the most sensational tabloid stories of the era, Don Jr. graduated from college, moved to Colorado and got a job bartending. Ivana said she made her disapproval clear by “cutting him off” until he gave up, returned to New York and joined the Trump Organization.
Do you see what I mean? It’s a miracle the man is walking and taking nourishment. I will never attack him again. Well, except for the elephant hunting.
A lot of “Raising Trump” is Ivana bragging that the children were never spoiled – unlike those Kardashians. There’s a lot about her glamorous wardrobe and triumphs as a CEO in the family businesses. (”My version of helicopter parenting was to bring the kids to work with me in the Trump chopper.”)
And you just keep plowing on because you figure sooner or later she’s going to get to The Affair.
Finally, it’s 1989 in Aspen. A young woman comes up to Ivana and says: “I’m Marla and I love your husband. Do you?”
What followed was perhaps the biggest sex scandal in American history. OK, I’m totally exaggerating. (Remember that whopper in the 19th century with Grover Cleveland’s illegitimate child?) But the Donald-Marla-Ivana story was unusual in that at the time, nobody involved in it was all that important. Trump was a celebrity real estate developer, but there were plenty of equally rich and glamorous figures in New York, many of them having adultery issues of their own.
The difference was that Trump pushed the story, calling his allies in the media with new tidbits or lines of defense. It was as if Grover Cleveland had press agents trying to make sure his side of the love-child scandal was in a headline every day.
You will not hear anything about that angle in Ivana’s book. In fact, once the affair comes center stage, you hardly hear anything about Donald at all. He seems to be a sort of passive bystander. (”After the showgirl got pregnant and had a daughter, Donald married her.”)
The villain of the book is “Marla freaking Maples” the “showgirl” who broke up her marriage and produced The New York Post’s all-time famous front-page headline: “Best Sex I’ve Ever Had.” If Marla had kidnapped Donald, thrown him in a trunk and driven him off to a shotgun wedding, she could not have been more evil.
Ivana’s eagerness to gloss over the sins of an ex who now happens to be president of the most powerful nation on the planet is hardly the worst issue of sexism the country has to discuss this week. But it’s still a useful reminder that Trump has gotten away with absolutely appalling behavior throughout his life, right down to his yelping “locker room talk” whenever people bring up that recording of him bragging about grabbing women’s private parts.
Toward the end of the book Trump is “kind enough to waive the $20,000 fee” when Ivana held her third marriage at Mar-a-Lago. The later husbands were pretty terrible, too. One of them had a large, thuggish son who spent one family gathering throttling – oh no! – Donald Jr.
The happiest person in the family was probably Chappy.