the national interest

Why Does Donald Trump Hire Terrible Doctors and Lawyers?

Dr. Harold Bornstein, personal physician to Donald Trump.

On Monday, the Trump campaign introduced the world to Dr. Harold Bornstein, personal physician to Donald J. Trump since 1980, a role he inherited from his father, Dr. Jacob Bornstein. According to Dr. Bornstein, Trump is not only the picture of health, but he has also amassed health on a world-historical scale. Dr. Bornstein pronounced Trump’s laboratory results “astonishingly excellent,” and declared, “If elected, Mr. Trump, I can state unequivocally, will be the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency.”

Dr. Bornstein’s letter raised far more questions than it answered. (Such as, when would he release his diagnoses of the previous 44 occupants of the presidency?) But here’s perhaps the most pressing mystery: Why exactly would Trump — a wealthy man living in a vibrant city teeming with renowned physicians — entrust his personal health to a doctor who both looks and writes like a professional wrestler?

Obviously one possible answer might be that Trump is loyal to the legacy of his father, Dr. Jacob Bornstein — though sentimental attachment does not seem to be an especially Trump-like trait. Another is a weakness for over-the-top flattery. But consider another possibility: Perhaps Trump trusts Dr. Bornstein because he’s Jewish? (Or, at least, he has a Jewish name.)

The belief in the inherent intelligence of the Jewish people is a widespread stereotype. A Curb Your Enthusiasm episode depicted Larry David’s lawyer leading his clients to believe he was Jewish:

The hypothesis that Trump is a hyper-philo-Semite would explain his relationship with Michael Cohen, special counsel to the Trump organization. Cohen defended his client against a charge that he raped his wife, Ivana, like so: “And, of course, understand that by the very definition, you can’t rape your spouse … It is true. You cannot rape your spouse. And there’s very clear case law.” That is not actually the law. Nor is it an especially well crafted public-relations message. So, what reason would Trump — who, again, has his choice of some of the world’s most respected lawyers — retain a counsel who lacks the familiarity with rape law of even your average Law & Order fan? Could he have simply assumed that anybody named “Michael Cohen” must be good at lawyering?

One clue for this hypothesis might be found in Trump’s recent remarks to the Republican Jewish Committee. “I’m a negotiator, like you folks,” he offered — an observation Trump clearly deemed both a compliment and a truth so obvious it did not require elaboration. Gentiles, as a Jew, I am here to tell you from life experience that many of my people are not terribly bright. Do not assume that your Jewish doctor, lawyer, or accountant knows what he is doing.

Why Does Trump Hire Terrible Docs and Lawyers?