Does Donald Trump Have Any Friends?

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One of the things that kind of fascinates me about Donald Trump1 is the fact that he doesn’t even pretend that his attacks are real. His latest 2-minutes hate has been directed at Bill Clinton, and he’s pretty much admitted that he doesn’t really believe the stuff he’s saying. But if Hillary attacks him, he has to attack back. Here’s Rebecca Sinderbrand:

Trump on HRC: “Had to mention her husband’s situation. And now it’s the biggest story on television by a factor of 10. So you have to do it

He had to do it—delivered with the usual Trumpish shrug of the shoulders. That’s all. And if Hillary stops, he’ll stop. It’s business, not personal.

This is an odd quirk in Trump’s personality. He seems to have an ironclad rule against ever attacking someone first. Even Vladimir Putin. Putin says nice things about Trump, so Trump has to say nice things back. Opposing candidates who don’t attack him are “great guys.” But if you attack first, then he has to fire off a nuclear retaliation. There’s an odd kind of chivalry at work here, and I suppose it also provides people with a motivation to leave him alone.

This may also be responsible for the odd silence about Trump from everyone who knows him. I’ve been wondering for a while whether Trump has any friends. Real friends, that is. Not family members, not people who work for him, and not celebrity buddies who have a casual acquaintance with him. I’m talking about people he’s worked with frequently and who like him. People he hangs out with regularly. People from his childhood or college years that he’s stayed close to. Are there any?

I can’t tell. Nobody from the New York development community seems willing to say anything about him, which would make sense if they all dislike him but don’t want to trigger a temper tantrum. Who needs the grief, right? How about childhood friends? Not that I’ve heard of. Trump seems to view people almost entirely transactionally, as assets to be deployed, so it would hardly be surprising if none of them had stayed close. Given his penchant for demanding sycophancy, and lashing out instantly against even a hint of criticism, I suppose it would be hard to have any real long-term friends or even any long-term business pals. It’s kind of sad, actually.

1Against my will, but there you have it.

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"It's that we're screwed with or without him if we can't show the public that what we do matters for the long term," writes Mother Jones CEO Monika Bauerlein as she kicks off our drive to raise $350,000 in donations from readers by July 17.

This is a big one for us. So, as we ask you to consider supporting our team's journalism, we thought we'd slow down and check in about where Mother Jones is and where we're going after the chaotic last several years. This comparatively slow moment is also an urgent one for Mother Jones: You can read more in "Slow News Is Good News," and if you're able to, please support our team's hard-hitting journalism and help us reach our big $350,000 goal with a donation today.

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