“Very little. I just think of little.”
Someone’s telling tall tales again. In three tweets and again in his pre-Super Bowl interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity on Sunday, Donald Trump targeted “Mini Mike” Bloomberg, attacking the candidate whose wealth dwarfs the Donald’s just before the two will air clashing ads during the game itself Sunday evening.
“He wants a box for the debates,” Trump said, during the pre-taped interview at his Mar-a-Lago hotel in Florida. “Why should he be entitled to that? Really. Does that mean everyone else gets a box?”
First and foremost, there’s no evidence that this is true, like so much that Trump says. But the attacks are a sign that Trump views Bloomberg—a real-life billionaire worth $61 billion, according to Forbes, up by $7.6 billion, or three times Trump’s total worth, since he prepared to launch his campaign in October—as a legitimate threat to his ego and to his electoral chances.
It’s not news that Trump likes to assign nicknames, and has a talent for hitting people where it hurts. As “Liddle” Bob Corker and “Lil” Marco can attest, a diminutive stature (or, let’s be honest, since Trump is 6’3”, this also works for people of average height; Napoleon, by the way, wasn’t actually “short” for his day), Trump isn’t above a few low blows.
In our increasingly politically correct world, mocking someone’s height may be one of the last places where you can, in polite society, dismiss a person’s value based on their immutable characteristics.
Not that Trump cares about polite society, but this bias is deeply embedded in many of us. We “look up” to our heroes. We “look down” at those who disappoint. When we admire someone, we “put them on a pedestal” (which explains why Trump is opposed to Bloomberg getting on the box). When someone isn’t quite good enough, we say they “don’t measure up.” People like to get high; nobody wants to feel low.
I’ll stop before I end up sounding too much like George Carlin.
Okay, one more Carlin homage… While I’m against Orwellian euphemisms like forcing people to refer to that thing in the street as a “person-hole cover,” there is no lobby policing our language to help the Mike Bloombergs of the world.
Indeed, it seems that a man never stands so tall as when he stoops to kick a short guy in the ass.
Don’t believe me? Why is it that the taller candidate almost always wins the presidency? Why is it that taller people make more money? On dating apps (I’m told), women can rule out dating men who aren’t a certain height (though they probably couldn’t—or wouldn’t—choose to exclude people of a certain race). I guess they don’t want to draw the short end of the stick?
If you haven’t guessed already, this is really about masculinity. This is about questioning someone’s manhood.
Donald Trump has, almost single-handedly, made our politics less civilized and more base. We are now more like a tribe that selects the best warrior than a sophisticated society who elects the wisest soul to lead us.
The attack couldn’t have come as much of a surprise to the 5’7” Bloomberg, who’s joked for years about the obstacles to running for president as “a short Jewish billionaire from New York.”
Bloomberg knows that calling attention to his height is really about taking what should be an intellectual decision, and boiling it down to a penis-measuring contest. That is what Trump has done to our politics.
In the end, that probably won’t work out for Bloomberg, whose campaign shot back by calling Trump “a pathological liar who lies about everything: his fake hair, his obesity, and his spray-on tan.”
That didn’t work out when Rubio tried it, and I don’t suspect it will work out this time, either. If the question becomes, “Who is the bigger dick?” you just can’t compete. Here, Donald Trump is in a class by himself.