During his flu-mandated confinement last week, Wrongo read a 1990 Vanity Fair profile of Donald and Ivana Trump. 1990 wasn’t the best year for The Donald, he was up to his armpits in debt. Some of his real estate ventures were under water and his marriage was coming apart. He was involved in a very public extramarital affair with Marla Maples, whom he later married and still later, divorced.
The Vanity Fair article by Marie Brenner, was written in the midst of all of that:
Trump isolated himself in a small apartment on a lower floor of Trump Tower. He would lie on his bed, staring at the ceiling, talking into the night on the telephone. The Trumps had separated. Ivana remained upstairs in the family triplex with its beige onyx floors and low-ceilinged living room painted with murals in the style of Michelangelo. The murals had occasioned one of their frequent fights: Ivana wanted cherubs, Donald preferred warriors. The warriors won.
For days, Trump rarely left his building. Hamburgers and French fries were sent up to him from the nearby New York Delicatessen. His body ballooned, his hair curled down his neck. “You remind me of Howard Hughes,” a friend told him. “Thanks,” Trump replied, “I admire him.”
It is a very long piece, and provides insight and important history. In a follow-up article in 2015, Brenner gave us bullet points about the Trump character and elements that have remained true through the years:
- Trump’s views on women are still repugnant
- He is still loves slinging bullshit.
- He is still convinced that the public loves him, even if you find him repulsive.
- When pressed on awkward topics—such as whether or not he regularly read Adolf Hitler’s speeches—he gets vague and inventive.
- He has a long history exploiting undocumented immigrants on construction projects.
- Loyalty has never been his strong suit.
In 2011, WaPo’s Richard Cohen recalled Brenner’s original Vanity Fair article: (brackets by the Wrongologist)
American political life [today] is [about] doing away with the back story. Increasingly, politicians are becoming religious types, Eagle Scouts who mastered all the knots, a monasticism leavened only by the occasional martini. They do not stray. They avoid midlife crises. They came out of the womb with certainty, avoided acne, married the first girl they dated and went on to make a fortune in something or other.
With Trump, it’s all back story. We know his flops. We know he curses. We know he fools around, that he isn’t religious. We know he lies. We know he has bad taste — in buildings, in ties, in associates (the late Roy Cohn, for instance, and now, Roger Stone). We know about his support for Birtherism.
He’s all these things, and he knows there’s no bad publicity.
He even exaggerates his exaggerations, which is what all people in real estate do. After all, every condo in the building is sold, and the apartment you want already has a ton of offers.
How will that style work with Putin? With President Xi of China? Does The Donald’s experience with borrowing money and then letting his projects go bankrupt animate his thought about welshing on our National Debt?
This from David Remnick:
Trump is no longer hustling golf courses, fake “universities,” or reality TV. He means to command the United States armed forces and control its nuclear codes. He intends to propose legislation, conduct America’s global affairs, preside over its national-intelligence apparatus, and make the innumerable moral and political decisions required of a President.
No, we are not in a Seth Rogen movie. That was North Korea. The movie we are in includes televised assurances of adequate genital dimensions. This is our political moment, a fact-free time where insults and bigotry are acceptable. Remnick reminds us of a story: (emphasis by the Wrongologist)
When Howard Kaminsky of Random House called on the real-estate developer and self-marketing master Donald Trump at his office on Fifth Avenue. Kaminsky brought along a cover design for “Trump: The Art of the Deal”. Trump seemed reasonably happy. Just one thing, he said. ‘Please make my name much bigger.’
The Republican Party, having spent years courting the basest impulses in American political culture, now sees the writing on the wall. It reads “Donald Trump,” in very big letters.
Wrongo spoke today with a blog reader. His view was that the end game is set up for Trump, and that he can’t lose. If he wins in the General Election, he wins. If he loses in the General, he still wins.
Regardless of the outcome, Trump wins, but, apparently, we the people will lose.