Asked on Tuesday about Donald Trump’s claim that the election he seems on track to lose is being “rigged” against him, President Obama observed that there was no evidence of “significant voter fraud” and suggested that “it doesn’t really show the kind of leadership and toughness you’d want out of a president, if you start whining before the game is even over.”
That the famously prickly Trump did not immediately respond to the president’s taunting could be a sign of new discipline, but it is not just the candidate’s political opponents who have tired of his shtick. On Monday’s Late Show, Bill O’Reilly said that his first piece of advice to Trump would be simple: “Stop whining.”
“He should have a little buzzer, you know, that whenever he whines, they like bahhhn,” O’Reilly added, miming his aides pressing a button. “You know: Stop. Stop.”
It is one of the many oddities of Trump’s run for the White House that his bizarre pronouncements on O’Reilly’s show — like his call for the United States to seize Iraq’s oil in 2011, or his admission that his plan to tackle urban crime is so secret that even he does not know what it is — have frequently made the blustering Fox pundit seem like the voice of reason.
Perhaps the strangest thing about the #whining critique of Trump, though, is that he appeared to boast, in a CNN interview last year, that it is a positive character trait. “That’s right, I am the most fabulous whiner — I do whine, because I want to win, and I’m not happy if I’m not winning,” Trump told Chris Cuomo in August 2015.
“I am a whiner, and I keep whining and whining until I win,” Trump added.
That interview took place days after the first Republican primary debate, when Trump went into an extended tirade about the supposed unfairness of the moderator Megyn Kelly having asked him how he would handle the inevitable charge from Hillary Clinton that he did not respect women.
In that CNN interview, Trump was responding to criticism of his behavior in the aftermath of the debate from the conservative columnist Rich Lowry, who had suggested that a candidate whose response to an unflattering question was to “whine like a spoiled child” was unlikely to make good on his promises to “bring Vladimir Putin to heel” and “make Mexico pay for a border fence.”
Trump’s complaints about voter fraud, which are based on a long-running but disingenuous campaign by Republicans to keep minority voters from casting ballots, were also rejected on Tuesday by his adviser Chris Christie’s personal hero, Bruce Springsteen.
“The trouble at the moment is you have Donald Trump, who is talking about rigged elections,” Springsteen told Britain’s Channel 4 News. “He knows he’s gonna lose and he is such a flagrant, toxic narcissist, that he wants to take down the entire democratic system with him if he goes.”
“He simply has no sense of decency and no sense of responsibility about him,” Springsteen added. “And the words that he’s been using over the past several weeks really are an attack on the entire democratic process.”