Getty
Show Hide image

Is this the moment Donald Trump decided to run for president?

At the 2011 White House Correspondents’ Association dinner, Trump was blasted by Barack Obama. Since then, pundits have asked: did it unwittingly help create a monster?

I know, I know, you're still reeling. Over in this west London burrow, your mole is reeling, too. Donald Trump has clinched the 2016 presidential election, and who knows what might happen next.

As the future is so mysterious, inevitably one's thoughts turn to the past. Specifically: could this have been averted? What about if the Clinton e-mails hadn't been back in the news last week? If the Voter Rights Act hadn't been repealed, possibly diminishing the number of people able to vote in key states like Florida? If Barack Obama hadn't roasted Trump back in 2011?

Bear with me, here. Because while the last of those ideas doesn't sound as feasible – and isn't as immediate – as the first two, there may still be something in it.

2011 feels a long time ago right now, but I invite you to cast your mind back to that year's White House Correspondents' Association dinner, when President Obama (already how bittersweet the title!) and comedian Seth Myers roasted a member of the audience, calling him a political charlatan and suggesting he had a "dead fox" on his head. 

Back then, Donald Trump was a noisy voice in the birther movement, repeatedly, and loudly, intimating that Obama was not born in the United States. Obama seized his moment in the traditionally-mocking speech of the Correspondents' dinner to poke fun at this bizarre suggestion, joking about other conspiracy theories Trump might believe. Here's the White House transcript of the moment:

Donald Trump is here tonight!  (Laughter and applause.)  Now, I know that he’s taken some flak lately, but no one is happier, no one is prouder to put this birth certificate matter to rest than the Donald.  (Laughter.)  And that’s because he can finally get back to focusing on the issues that matter –- like, did we fake the moon landing?  (Laughter.)  What really happened in Roswell?  (Laughter.)  And where are Biggie and Tupac?  (Laughter and applause.)

But all kidding aside, obviously, we all know about your credentials and breadth of experience.  (Laughter.)  For example -- no, seriously, just recently, in an episode of Celebrity Apprentice -- (laughter) -- at the steakhouse, the men’s cooking team cooking did not impress the judges from Omaha Steaks.  And there was a lot of blame to go around.  But you, Mr. Trump, recognized that the real problem was a lack of leadership.  And so ultimately, you didn’t blame Lil’ Jon or Meatloaf.  (Laughter.)  You fired Gary Busey.  (Laughter.)  And these are the kind of decisions that would keep me up at night.  (Laughter and applause.)  Well handled, sir.  (Laughter.)  Well handled. 

Say what you will about Mr. Trump, he certainly would bring some change to the White House.  Let’s see what we’ve got up there.  (Laughter.) 

(Screens show “Trump White House Resort and Casino.”)

Myers took that end bit – where Obama jokes about Trump in the White House – even further, saying:

Donald Trump has been saying he will run for president as a Republican — which is surprising, since I just assumed he was running as a joke.

Trump owns the Miss USA Pageant, which is great for Republicans, because it will streamline their search for a vice president.

Donald Trump said recently he’s got a great relationship with ‘the blacks.’ Unless the Blacks are a family of white people, I bet he’s mistaken.

It's these takedowns that journalists have seized on. Back in March, the New York Times proposed that it might have been the moment when Trump's swivelling eye drifted from reality TV to politics.

Of course, voices in other quarters have pooh-pooh'd the idea. In April, Roxanne Roberts of the Washington Post responded to the NYT's tantalising suggestion by saying it "flies in the face of actual history".

But who knows what a man like Trump thinks, or what motivates him? Decide for yourself with the clip below.

I'm a mole, innit.

Photo: Getty
Show Hide image

Winning tears: Chad Le Clos is a great swimmer, but his display of emotion shows real strength

The South African Olympian and his parents offer something we rarely see.

Headlines from the swimming world championships might well have been stolen by Adam Peaty’s world records and golds, but Chad Le Clos’s reaction to winning the 200m freestyle last night had a victory all of its own.

South African Le Clos was visibly moved to tears during the awards ceremony, unafraid to appear emotional after having left the world’s best in his wake. His parents Bert and Geraldine were also filmed wiping away tears in the stands.

Bert had already gone viral at the 2012 Olympics in a BBC interview with Claire Balding, during which he described his son as “the most down-to-earth, beautiful boy you’ll ever meet in your life”. If “beautiful” doesn’t quite chime with expectations of a chiselled, Adonis-like athlete like Le Clos, perhaps even more refreshing was Bert blowing his son a kiss from the commentary perch, saying through the TV: “I love you”.

Last night’s tears were all the more emotional given both Bert and Geraldine are receiving treatment for cancer. It was something weighing on Le Clos, who said that it was “an emotional race, before, during and after it".

Men being so openly affectionate in public is still rare. But it comes during a week in which ITV aired Diana, Our Mother: Her Life and Legacy, with Princes William and Harry talking about their love of their mother.

When interviewed before the programme, William said: “I think it's been quite cathartic for us doing it. It's been at first quite daunting – opening up so much to camera... but going through this process has been quite a healing process as well."

The Le Clos family might be leagues away from the upper reaches of fame occupied by the Princes, but they both speak to something wider – that it is perfectly fine for men to be emotional, either in times of triumph or of difficulty.

Jack Urwin made the point for Vice and, later, in his book Man Up: Surviving Modern Masculinity, that “the stubborn lost-husband-refusing-to-ask-for-directions might be a handy caricature – one that's helped people like Martin Clunes sustain a career in television for over 30 years – but it's also rooted in a very real, very destructive notion of masculinity. We're conditioned from an early age to believe that acknowledging weakness is somehow a weakness in itself.”

It is relevant when considering that suicide is the leading cause of death in 20 to 34-year-old men in the UK. The epidemic of young male suicide in the UK cannot be simplified as having one defining cause, or one defining solution. But preventing male suicide and being more willing to accept very natural male tears, are two concepts which stem from the same roots: expression, communication, and destigmatising emotion.

The emotion shown by the Le Clos men is not, however, born out of difficulty – it is born out of happiness and, at the risk of being trite, love. “The Le Clos only cry when we win,” Bert told Sport24 after the Olympics. “We don't cry when we lose and that's the bottom line.”

The reality is that everyone loses as often, if not more often, than they win. Yet in being so willing to display their love for each other, the Le Clos men continue to set a bold precedent. Any criticisms of a snowflake generation, or even predictably crass tweets citing Dunkirk as evidence of 21st century men’s weakness, are spectacularly missing the point.

Yes, Chad Le Clos’s performance in the Budapest pool was muscular, powerful and dominant – but in his tears and his admission that his “family's health is more important than gold medals," he showed another form of strength.