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Driven by vengeance, Trump is eager to 'punish his enemies'

Often, Trump's preoccupation with retaliation hurt far more than it helps, but even when he seems aware of this, the GOP nominee just can't seem to help himself
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump attends a campaign rally in Moon, Penn., Nov. 6, 2016. (Photo by Carlo Allegri/Reuters)
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump attends a campaign rally in Moon, Penn., Nov. 6, 2016. 
Campaign observers may have noticed that it's been a couple of weeks since Donald Trump said something ridiculous on Twitter. It turns out, there's an explanation for that: the New York Times reports that the Republican candidate's aides "have finally wrested away the Twitter account that he used to colorfully -- and often counterproductively -- savage his rivals."That's no small revelation. The GOP nominee's own staff is so concerned about his erratic and "self-destructive impulses" -- aides have so little confidence in Trump's ability to restrain himself -- that they had to intervene to silence him on social media before the candidate did further damage to his own candidacy."If somebody can't handle a Twitter account, they can't handle the nuclear codes," President Obama said yesterday. "If somebody starts tweeting at three in the morning because 'SNL' made fun of you, then you can't handle the nuclear codes."The Times' article is filled with a series of related examples, including the circumstances surrounding his Oct. 22 speech in Gettysburg, Pa. Trump was supposed to focus on government reform, and aides provided him with an outline of 15 ideas. He rejected 10 of them and insisted on including language in the remarks about suing the women who've accused him of sexual misconduct.When staffers pleaded with Trump to reconsider, he refused, with predictable results: the speech was a disaster, all because the GOP nominee decided he could not allow his accuser to "come at me" without a counter-attack.
It's all part of the drive that's come to define Trump's personal and political persona.

[O]ffline, Mr. Trump still privately muses about all of the ways he will punish his enemies after Election Day, including a threat to fund a "super PAC" with vengeance as its core mission.

At times, Trump's behavior over the last year and a half has defied explanation, but in more instances than not, the Republican's decision-making makes sense when viewed through a strange lens: that of someone preoccupied with retaliation.Benjy Sarlin had a great piece about this a week ago: "Summarizing Donald Trump's worldview isn't easy, but this may come close: The world is a violent place, and it demands a violent response.... Trump's emphasis on violence and retaliation, especially outside the confines of the law, is unique among modern nominees and is rooted in a set of guiding principles."Similarly, Mother Jones' David Corn recently reported:

Revenge -- it's a big part of Trump's life.... Why all the insults, bullying, and grudge matches? There is a reason. Trump fervently believes in retaliation. How do we know? Because he has said numerous times that he is driven by revenge and that it is a basic tool to use in business. He is obsessed with payback.In speeches and public talks, Trump has repeatedly expressed his fondness for retribution.

Kevin Drum added, "Pretty much everything else flows from this. The bullying is always in service of revenge. The narcissism is a way of elevating himself above his adversaries. The dominance games are always aimed at real and perceived enemies."This nearly always hurts Trump far more than it helps, but even when he seems passively aware of this, the GOP nominee just can't seem to help himself. Vengeance is just what he does. It's who he is.Whether or not Americans consider this an appealing quality in a leader will become clearer tomorrow.Postscript: The same Times article pointed to an incident in which Trump campaign chairman Steve Bannon's pants literally caught on fire while preparing remarks for the candidate.Sometimes, real-life metaphors are a little too perfect.