Only in America could an arrogant businessman who inherited substantial wealth from his father become elevated to celebrity status and then leverage that fatuous fame to run for President of the United States and lead the polls in the Republican primary race.
We’ve known The Donald for a long time. His loud, uncouth mouth has been flapping for at least thirty years. It’s amazing what money will buy, but “classy” is not on the list. It’s not that Donnie hasn’t tried; he’s fashioned himself a clothing designer and golf course maven. He’s starred in a reality TV show where his scowling face and “You’re Fired” tagline were supposed to indicate business-world gravitas. But Donnie has confused the power that comes through money with virtue, a trait common to the very wealthy, and has developed a super-sized ego that sucks up all the oxygen around him.
New York, Donnie’s home town, breeds a particular type of guy. Mad Men era guys in business ruled their roosts like petty tyrants; women were trophies or servants. Donnie came of age at the tail end of that era with his feet set in a changing New York City, where women assumed positions of prominence and men were expected to exhibit some modicum of good manners. But money insulated Donnie from needing to learn very much about people, except those things he needed to know to take advantage of them. His stock and trade was “making deals,” which in his terms means screwing the other guy.
Thus it is that to Donnie everyone else is either “stupid” or “great” with nobody in-between. If his narcissistic pride is wounded by someone “great” then that person is immediately reclassified as “stupid.” In this way everyone is subject to Donnie’s judgements: politicians, business people, reporters, public employees. Donnie, it seems, is the only person who lives up to Donnie’s standards.
That people are attracted to celebrity is nothing new. Entire magazines, websites and television shows are dedicated to our obsession with celebrity. Not simply a distraction, celebrity confers a bit of gloss on all who come in contact with it; like Midas’ touch, the fabled gold of celebrity is sought and cherished despite its reality as a curse. Yes, the big money may be there, but from all reports it’s thin gruel. Celebrity is a life of suspicion filled with phonies, sycophants, leaches and scammers disguised as agents, friends, lawyers and accountants. And as for the adoring public, well, they’re all suckers. Ask Donnie, he’ll tell you about it while laughing all the way to the bank.
The son of a New York businessman, I grew up in the Mad Men ’50’s and met my share of “Donnies.” I’d see them swilling drinks and hooting at their wives during my parents’ parties. After divorcing my father in ’66, my mother actually met Donnie; she had created a New York City arts organization in lower Manhattan with funding by David Rockefeller during Mayor Lindsay’s administration of the early ’70’s. Mom went on to rub elbows with the likes of Jackie Onassis and other notables over twenty years. When she met Donnie Trump he was just a young up-and-comer but my mother formed a quick opinion and, never short of words, she shared it with me. “He’s disgusting,” she said.
Donnie’s had a lifetime to perfect being disgusting, and he’s succeeded brilliantly. Everybody knows his bombast and manners are disgusting – in his own words, he’s a “killer” – but the “celebrity fascination factor” makes him impossible to ignore. He’s become the Trumpenstein Monster of the GOP, assembled from bits and pieces of chopped-up policies and platitudes and now turning his rage upon his creator.
Gratefully my mother, rest her soul, has been delivered by death from the anguish of watching Donnie’s carefully coiffed head of bleached blond hair bobbing on the Sunday morning news shows.