Donald Trump shared the plight of his brother, Fred, with the world on Thursday, and by doing so he seemingly broke with the unwritten tradition of keeping presidential family members with problems as far away from the public eye as possible. Fred Trump is deceased, but his struggle with alcohol took on a life of its own for his brother, Donald.
The president shared his thoughts yesterday on how he has steered away from addictive substances at the urge of his brother while Fred was in the throes of his struggle with alcohol. President Trump shared Fred Trump’s story with pride at the White House, where he and Melania Trump stepped up to the podium to address the horrendous addiction problem and opioid epidemic in this country.
Trump learned to stay away from addictive substances because of his brother Fred’s struggle with addiction and he shared this with the world. According to the Washington Post, Donald Trump “rarely talks about his brother, Fred Trump.” He died in 1981 at the age of 43. He talked about his brother with fondness, calling him a “great guy.” According to The Washington Post, Trump looked up to his brother, who was eight years his senior. Fred’s battle with alcohol eventually led to his death. Trump has stayed away from alcohol because he “had someone who guided me,” he told the crowd. “I learned because of Fred.”
Many of the past presidents of this nation had a relative that was “handled” behind the scenes when it came to keeping them from the public eye. Perhaps one of the most heartwrenching of all the stories told was with President John F. Kennedy’s sister Rosemary Kennedy who struggled with mental illness. She was not someone who was in the public eye during the reign of the Kennedy family. According to People Magazine, Rosemary Kennedy’s life was a tragic one, as her father, Joseph Kennedy, gave orders for his daughter to undergo a “disastrous lobotomy.”
People Magazine reports that Rosemary Kennedy became the “source of deep shame for the most famous dynasty in America history.” At 23-years-old, the eldest daughter of the Kennedy family was reduced to the “mental capacity of a toddler” after she underwent a lobotomy, which is a procedure described by Live Science as follows.
“Lobotomy, also called prefrontal leukotomy, surgical procedure in which the nerve pathways in a lobe or lobes of the brain are severed from those in other areas.”
Rosemary was hidden away after the failed lobotomy left her very childlike, and it wasn’t until Joe Kennedy’s death two decades after Rosemary’s lobotomy that her siblings would learn the truth of her whereabouts, according to People. She was living at a secret location in Jefferson, Wisconsin, at a Catholic facility for the mentally disabled, as People reports, “hidden away from the public view.”
As Politifact reports, Jimmy Carter’s alcoholic brother and Bill Clinton’s brother, who was arrested on drug charges, were family members uncovered and brought out in the media. Bill Clinton didn’t have much to do with his brother, Rodger, in the public eye while he was in the White House, but on January 20, 2001, which was the very day he left his reign of the presidency, Bill Clinton pardoned Roger Clinton in a “huge cocaine conspiracy.”
Roger had been arrested with intent to sell the drug to an undercover officer. Bill Clinton kept his brother at a distance while in the White House, but upon leaving, the pardon was granted.
Barack Obama’s uncle lived in Framingham, Massachusettes, and it wasn’t until a DUI charge was levied against him that the majority of the public learned of this uncle. President Obama called him Uncle Omar, according to Politicalfact, but his name was Onyango Obama.
Relatives of past presidents who came with baggage that could harm them politically weren’t embraced or even talked about unless an event caught the media’s eye. While Donald Trump’s brother is deceased, his struggles were not something that Donald Trump is ashamed of. This was seen on Thursday as Trump talked about Fred at the White House podium.
As Politico reports, Trump shared his brother’s struggles with hopes that other people will follow suit when it comes to the impact that Fred’s warnings about drinking had on him. Trump told the crowd that he could never understand why some of his friends would struggle not to take a drink. He said it taught him that he didn’t understand because he had not been through what folks struggling with addiction have been through. He just never started drinking because his brother warned him not to drink “over and over and over again” through the years.
Trump also said, “But we understand why it is difficult. The fact is, if we can teach young people, and people generally, not to start. It’s really, really easy not to take them,” Trump said, referring to drugs. “And I think that’s going to end up being our most important thing. Really tough, really big, really great advertising so we get to people before they start so they don’t have to go through the problems of what people are going through.”
[Featured Image by Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP Images]