Trump the Junkyard Dog: Poke Him and Expect to Be Bitten

Remember Bad, Bad Leroy Brown?  He was "Badder than old King Kong and meaner than a junkyard dog."  Junkyard dogs are good in a fight, mean and nasty when provoked.  They're often docile when treated decently, with respect and kindness.  But don't poke them with a stick or kick them unless you want to be attacked with bared teeth and a nasty bite.

President Donald Trump is a junkyard dog.  Raised in New York City, he spent his entire working life dealing with N.Y. politics, graft, regulations, backstabbing, and aggressiveness.  A true junkyard.  It's not the lunch room at Bergdorf Goodman on Fifth Avenue; it's the trenches of political warfare and bureaucracy of building hotels and managing real estate.

Trump is generally kind and gentle.  Ask his employees or his family.  For all the thousands of people he has interacted with over the years in his personal and professional life, few have been critical of Trump.  Except for a handful of women who piled on, accusing him of unwanted affections just after the Access Hollywood video release.

Morning Joe co-hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski "fawned over Trump" during much of the presidential campaign, to the dismay of Media Matters and other left-wing groups.  Treating him with respect, they had pleasant and informative interviews.  And good ratings.  Discussions and challenging questions regarding policy were fair game for a presidential candidate.  It wasn't personal or nasty.

Post-election, Joe and Mika spent New Year's Eve at Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago, enjoying their cordial relationship with and proximity to the president-elect.

Fast-forward to the Trump presidency.  Joe and Mika, perhaps responding to their MSNBC viewers and corporate masters, decided that petting the junkyard dog was no longer appropriate.  Instead, throwing rocks and poking him with a stick would be more suitable for the MSNBC audience.

How did they provoke the junkyard dog?  Mika accused him of "lying every day" and "destroying the country."  She also referred to his "teensy" hands.

Remember Marco Rubio commenting on Trump's hands?  Early in the primary season, Rubio remarked, "And you know what they say about guys with small hands."  Poking the junkyard dog with a stick.  Trump hit back against "Little Marco" with a new nickname, and during the next debate, he defended his manhood: "I guarantee you there's no problem."

Ted Cruz learned a similar lesson after a Cruz-linked super-PAC posted nude photos of Melania Trump from 2000.  Trump hit back hard with a side-by-side photo of Heidi Cruz and Melania Trump.  Poke a junkyard dog with a stick and expect to be bitten.

Joe and Mika learned a similar lesson this week when poking Trump, calling him a liar and questioning his manhood – not privately, but to the world on their morning news show, three hours a day, five days a week on a major network.  It was not for the first time, either.  Their show, network, and the entire mainstream media have been throwing rocks at Trump.  Incessant criticism.  Name-calling and worse.  Did they expect Trump to just ignore it?

Were they expecting a George W. Bush response of turning the other cheek – of repeatedly not reacting to criticism, content to "let history be the judge of what he did"?  How did that work out?  The Bush approach reflects the refined highbrow world he grew up in, not the rough-and-tumble world of New York City, where Trump cut his teeth.

Donald Trump is who he is.  We have been watching him daily for the past two years.  He doesn't pick fights, but he certainly responds when someone picks a fight with him.  First Lady Melania Trump set the stage for how this sort of thing goes: "When her husband gets attacked, he will punch back 10 times harder." 

So why the shock and outrage from the media and #NeverTrump Republicans?  This is who Trump is.  Call him a pig or a fascist or a Nazi incessantly.  Tell the world he is mentally ill and that he is ill endowed.  Claim that he wants to kill people and destroy the country.  Call him a liar – and this is not some small market talk radio host, but instead a prominent national network morning news show.  Even Carl Bernstein, still surfing his Watergate wave from 40 years ago, said we have "a malignant presidency."

Kick the junkyard dog and expect blowback.  Other presidents may have ignored this, but not the scrapper from Queens.  Poke him with a stick, and expect to be bitten eventually.

Spare us the high-horse indignation from the #NeverTrumps – whether it's Senator Ben Sasse saying, "This isn't normal and it's beneath the dignity of your office" or Senator Lindsay Graham saying, "Your tweet was beneath the office," these same paragons of virtue didn't seem to have a problem when Barack Obama weaponized the FBI, DOJ, CIA, and IRS in pursuit of political opponents.  But let Trump punch back, and it's the apocalypse.

Time for a new nursery rhyme for the media and everyone else outraged over President Trump.  "Ring around the Rosy" needs an update.

New version: Diss Trump around the rosy; get punched in the nosey.  Fake news, fake news, they all fall down.

Brian C Joondeph, M.D., MPS is a Denver-based physician and writer.  Follow him on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

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