Robert A. Levine 7-20-16
It’s all out. Whether it will make any difference to his true believers is another story. Trump’s ghostwriter for The Art of the Deal, Tony Schwartz, a former journalist, was interviewed by Jane Mayer about Trump for an article in The New Yorker entitled- “Donald Trump’s Ghostwriter Tells All.” Schwartz shadowed Trump for eighteen months beginning in 1985, prior to ghostwriting the book. He listened in on all his business phone calls, attended his business meetings, was with him on weekends at his Florida estate and in his palatial New York residence, while interviewing and questioning him extensively.
Schwartz feels that he knows the real Donald Trump as well as anyone, excluding his family, and he is frightened for America if Trump becomes president. He sees the possibility of a nuclear conflagration and the end of civilization if Trump has his finger on the nuclear button, as Trump is impulsive and aggressive, and with an amazingly short attention span. Schwartz cannot imagine Trump listening to the various daily briefings he would be receiving on intelligence, foreign affairs, military matters, and the economy, and absorbing the necessary information. Trump is unable to concentrate or stay focused, and his knowledge is superficial, with ignorance of much that is critical for a president to know.
According to Schwartz, Trump is totally self-absorbed and narcissistic, his main interest being self-promotion and self-aggrandizement. He doesn’t care about people other than himself, no matter what he says. And he has hurt many individuals and small businesses who have worked for him by paying them less than he promised or not paying them at all. If he were writing the book today, Schwartz said he would call it “The Sociopath.” Schwartz says he feels remorse for having helped promote a positive image of Trump, which was “like putting lipstick on a pig.”
Trump uses the threat of lawsuits to get his way in his business dealings, and contrary to the vision he would like to project, he has not been a particularly smart businessman. The money he was given and inherited from his father provided him with his start in real estate, aided as well by his father’s political connections. Though Trump has tried to foster the image of himself as a self-made man, he needed help from his father to get his businesses under way and to bail him out financially when he got in trouble. And he got in trouble frequently, overextending himself and being unable to service the debt he acquired. His father had to often co-sign Trump’s loans in order for him to get them because his credit was not good enough.
There were also his casinos in Atlantic City that went bankrupt six times according to Schwartz, the failure of the Trump Shuttle airline, and the disaster of the New Jersey Generals Football team in the United Football League, all Trump ventures that went belly-up. Perhaps The Art of the Deal should have been retitled The Art of Failure and Still Looking Successful. Schwartz said that Trump constantly lied and exaggerated about virtually anything in order to make himself appear more prosperous than he was, and to make it seem that his instincts in business were always right. He never wanted to be known as a loser, or someone who another person had bested in negotiating a contract or a deal.
Schwartz noted as well that Trump kept a copy of Adolph Hitler’s collected speeches, My New Order, in his bedroom, though it is not clear that he read them. Apparently, Trump does very little reading and has virtually admitted this in other interviews, saying he doesn’t have the time. The information he gets regarding foreign crises, economic policy, and domestic issues comes mostly from the television newscasts that he listens to, having almost no first-rate advisors to guide him. To paraphrase Trump, I go by my instincts and I’m my best advisor.
Not only did Trump not write The Art of the Deal, it was not even his idea. The Random House publisher, Si Newhouse, gave birth to the book, seeing it as a possible best seller. In fact, he gave Trump a half million dollar advance for the book in addition to royalties, both of which Trump split with Schwartz to actually write the manuscript.
The portrait of Trump that Schwartz paints is alarming with Trump now the official nominee of the Republican Party for president. It is not surprising that Trump sees dictators like Putin, Quadfafi, and Saddam Hussein in positive lights. If he is elected, there is no telling where Trump’s self-developed ideas, unwillingness to listen to others, impulsiveness, and need for self-aggrandizement will lead the nation. Hopefully, he will be defeated and we will never have to find out.
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