November 27, 2015

THOMAS DEWEY, CALL YOUR OFFICE: Donald Trump mocks reporter’s disability:

At a rally in South Carolina Tuesday, when GOP frontrunner Donald Trump was defending the contention that “thousands and thousands of people” cheered the September 11th terrorist attack in Jersey City, New Jersey, he did an impression of a reporter’s physical handicap.

The reporter was Serge Kovaleski, who had, according to Politico, previously covered Trump when he worked for the New York Daily News. He also helped write a September 2001 Washington Post story that Trump has been using to back up his claim about what he saw at the attacks.

“Written by a nice reporter. Now the poor guy. You ought to see this guy,” Trump said.

When he made fun of Kovaleski verbally, Politico reported, he launched “into an impression which involved gyrating his arms wildly and imitating the unusual angle at which Kovaleski’s hand sometimes rests.”

Kovaleski suffers from arthrogryposis, which according to the National Institutes of Health, can impact the function and range of motion of joints and can cause muscles to atrophy. Kovaleski was familiar to Trump because he had, according to Politico, covered Trump for several years when he worked for the New York Daily News.

Shades of another GOP presidential candidate from a bygone era:

Tom Dewey was cursed with just this sort of personality. He was short, immaculately and expensively dressed, and he sported a mustache that led Alice Roosevelt Longworth famously to describe him as “the bridegroom on the wedding cake.” (It is no coincidence that Dewey is the last nominee of either party to sport any facial hair.)

But Dewey’s snobbishness went far beyond looks. Indeed, a single display of it may well have cost him the White House. On Oct. 13, 1948, in Beaucoup, Ill., Dewey was speaking on the rear platform of a train—part of a response to President Truman’s 30,000-mile whistle-stop campaign—when the engineer mistakenly backed the train up a short distance. Dewey snapped that “this is the first lunatic I’ve had as an engineer. He probably ought to be shot at sunrise, but I guess we can let him off because nobody was hurt.” Dewey may not have realized it, but to the hundreds of thousands who worked on railroads, their families, and the millions of others in blue-collar jobs, this smacked of something less than respect for the working folks. And on Election Day, such voters helped deliver Truman razor-thin pluralities in Ohio and Illinois, giving him enough electoral votes to pull off the most remarkable upset in presidential history.

Of course, Truman smearing Dewey as a fascist just three years after the end of WWII in the week before the election may have helped as well; and the left have taken to playing that worn-out record as well this month against Trump. But as with Dewey in 1948, Trump is his own worst enemy.

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Related: “Trump claims he’s never met a disabled New York Times reporter that he’s been criticized of mocking during a recent campaign rally…The billionaire candidate went on, claiming he had ‘merely mimicked what [he] thought would be a flustered reporter trying to get out of a statement he made long ago.'”

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