Mike Tighe is the Tribune newsroom's senior citizen. That said, he don't get no respect from the cub reporters as he goes about his duly-appointed rounds on the health, religion and whatever-else-lands-in-his-inbox beats. Call him at 608-791-8446.

Donald Trump Halloween

Halloween-costumed children of the White House media show mixed reactions as President Donald Trump toys with them in the Oval Office in Halloween, where he delivered messages about their parents.

Imagine the outrage in the White House if a schoolyard bully approached Barron Trump and taunted him with expressions of surprise that his father had been able to produce such a fine-looking lad.

Yet, that’s exactly what 45 did with several reporters’ children who had been ushered into the Oval Friday decked out in Halloween costumes as Darth Vader, Princess Leia, a purple-haired unicorn and other characters, real and mythical. (Not a Cheeto costume in the bunch.)

“I cannot believe the media produced such beautiful children!” he declared to the group of 8- to 10-year-olds — all just a bit younger than 11-year-old Barron.

“How the media did this, I don’t know,” he exclaimed, couching a subliminal message that obviously mystified the children.

However, his toying with the children’s self-images no doubt thrilled his base, who still delight in his media-bashing at the continuing presidential pep rallies that echo his campaign chatter. Those self-love fests to this day strive successfully to stoke the flames of his support in the run-up to Election Day, which ended with that troublesome tally of 65,844,954 votes for Hillary Clinton to his own 62,979,879.

Consider the cacophony of criticism that presidential flak Sarah Chucklebee Sanders would spit out — with her eyebrow upturned like a character from “Hansel and Gretel” — if a media persona asked Barron whether he would grow up to be like his old man.

That’s what the president did to a little girl, saying, “Are you gonna grow up to be like your parents?”

Before she could answer, he motioned with his hands that emulating her folks would be a horrific idea.

Motioning toward a young girl that she could have a little box of White House candies, he teased, “You have no weight problems, so that’s the good thing.”

Huh? What’s the message the girl was supposed to take home and ponder? Maybe “Am I fat?” Will she obsess about the question, and develop the eating disorders like so many others have done after being ridiculed about weight issues in childhood?

What if somebody told Eric Trump his Dracula costume was realistic — when he wasn’t wearing one?

The children had mixed reactions, ranging from giggles to nervousness to fear. When one girl was crying, he asked why and motioned her still closer as someone mentioned that she is Japanese.

Almost as if he were surprised that a Japanese girl could be cute, the would-be leader of the free world made it all about him, telling her that he would be visiting Japan soon.

The 71-year-old grandfather motioned for the children to gather ’round his desk for a photo op. Pointing toward the media, he asked the youngsters whether they knew who the photographers and reporters were.

Answering the question himself, as he is wont to do, he said, “They are the friendly media” — as if they could divine the satire he aimed to convey.

Continuing to speak way above the kids’ heads with comments obviously directed at his base, he allowed as how the press treats them better than it does him.

His actions spoke louder than his words, echoing his vitriolic assessments of the media at rallies that media are “sick people” … ““truly bad people” who hate the United States … and are an “enemy of the people.”

Clearly, the president made what might have been an innocent, light-hearted photo op into another blatant message to his base. Truly, he bars no holds in his attacks of the media, channeling his hatred through children.

It was unclear whether the laughter in the background came from White House staffers, who should be ashamed if it did, or the media, who should be doubly ashamed for allowing their children to be used and abused for subliminal messages of scorn.

Oddly enough, the incident came just days after the first lady seemed to resurrect her campaign vow to fight bullying when she visited a school in a Detroit suburb to commemorate October as National Bullying Prevention Month.

Among other things, the first lady told a group of students — probably just a bit younger than Barron — at Orchard Lake Middle School. “I think it’s very important to choose kindness and compassion.”

In light of her husband’s demonic disdain for so many people, the statement is perplexing at the least, and hypocritical at the worst.

Again, read between the lines of the president’s comment: “Are you going to grow up and be like your parents? Mmm, don’t answer that. It can only get me in trouble. You have wonderful parents, right?”

In other words, and for the first time, he acknowledged that he is, indeed, a schoolyard bully — but he does it anyway, daily, to immigrants, to members of Congress, to Gold Star parents, to judges, to the media, to anyone he considers to be enemies.

You’re up to your old tricks, Mr. President. No treats for you.


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