If we believe some of its critics, the Trump administration bears a strong resemblance to a family business. What few insights we non-Trumps are able to gain into this family tend to support this impression. We learn of a domineering father whose winners and losers view of life strongly influenced his offspring. Well, most of them.
Following the death last week of Robert Trump, 71 year-old younger brother of Donald, we learn that this particular Trump was an exception to the family’s code of living. Robert was a quiet, humble fellow, easygoing, considerate of others. He shunned the spotlight.
How did such a person successfully navigate life in the Trump family?
On Robert’s death, his famous brother Donald revealed a rare show of affection in a statement, which The New York Times printed. “He was not just my brother, he was my best friend,” the president said. “He will be greatly missed, but we will meet again. His memory will live on in my heart forever. Robert, I love you. Rest in peace.” (Some critics might argue with the “we will meet again” part.)
Donald, two years older than Robert, admits to having bullied his kid brother. In his book “Art of the Deal,” Donald concedes, “I think it must be hard to have me for a brother.” Robert got along with everyone, Donald wrote, “which is great for me since I sometimes have to be the bad guy.”
Donald asked Robert to oversee his casino in Atlantic City, but when the project went south, Donald blamed his brother. Whether Donald fired his brother or Robert quit has been debated, but Robert never worked for his brother again.
Donald’s niece Mary caused a sensation when she published her tell-all book about life within the Trump family, “Too much and Never Enough.” We learn, among other details, that Donald was strongly influenced by his father, Fred Sr., whose middle name was Christ.
Fred Trump Sr., authoritarian head of the family, shunned alcohol, set curfews and forbade profanity, lipstick and snacking between meals. He asked his wife Mary for daily reports on their children’s behavior and chose disciplinary actions for them. He tapped Donald to succeed him as leader of his real estate business and, according to one account, taught him to be a “killer.”
So, Family Trump now faces an election challenge that could spell an end to its profitable period during which Donald occupied the White House. What will become of all of the Trump siblings, spouses, offspring?
One is reminded of the message Ivanka once famously wrote on the back of her jacket: “I don’t really care. Do U?”