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Trump Profile from 1997

Commenter AndrewBW pointed me to a 1997 profile of Donald Trump from the New Yorker (Trump Solo).  It is illuminating insofar as many of the behaviors we see from the President today are quite evident in the piece.

There were a number of striking passages, but this anecdote struck me:

We hadn’t been airborne long when Trump decided to watch a movie. He’d brought along “Michael,” a recent release, but twenty minutes after popping it into the VCR he got bored and switched to an old favorite, a Jean Claude Van Damme slugfest called “Bloodsport,” which he pronounced “an incredible, fantastic movie.” By assigning to his son the task of fast-forwarding through all the plot exposition—Trump’s goal being “to get this two-hour movie down to forty-five minutes”—he eliminated any lulls between the nose hammering, kidney tenderizing, and shin whacking.

If a person does not have the patience to watch the talky parts of a JCVD flick, it is not a surprise that the same person doesn’t want to read briefing papers and prefers his information chewed and digested by cable news hosts prior to consumption.

Really, it is all there on the page: the braggadocio, the shallowness, the crass flash, etc.  It is not surprising to see, and I was aware of all of it well before he ran, but it is an odd experience to read knowing that the person in that 1997 profile is now President of the United States.

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About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is Professor of Political Science and Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Troy University. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. Having grown up in the NYC Tri-State area, I can attest to the fact that the Donald Trump of 2017 is no different from the Donald Trump of the mid-1980s.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  2. CSK says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Even as far north as Boston you couldn’t escape him. I agree: He’s just as trashy, stupid, venal, narcissistic, and churlish as he always was. How depressing to think that these were the very qualities that got him elected.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  3. JKB says:

    Really, it is all there on the page: the braggadocio, the shallowness, the crass flash, etc.

    I’m sure that assessment is soothing, but it demonstrates a lack of critical sense in regards to Trump.

    I suggest reviewing this rational assessment of Trump’s intelligence by psychologist Jordan Peterson.

    Like it or not, Trump has several great achievements in his life, any one of which would be considered a successful lifetime achievement by most. He revitalized Manhattan, NYC, NY when no one else was apparently able. He developed and starred in a successful primetime television show. He not only won the Presidency, but did it with a unique campaign and for far, far less money than any of the professionals would have thought possible.

    Dislike his policies, tut-tut over his tweets, but underestimate Trump by ignoring reality is not a good strategy.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 4

  4. JKB says:

    @CSK: churlish

    An interesting choice of word to describe a man elected by the “Deplorables” here on this 4th of July holiday celebrating our declaration of independence from the dominance of the aristocratic society of England.

    Do you know from where the root word, churl, comes?

    Churl \Churl\, n. [AS. ceorl a freeman of the lowest rank, man,
    husband; akin to D. karel, kerel, G. kerl, Dan. & Sw. karl,
    Icel. karl, and to the E. proper name Charles (orig., man,
    male), and perh. to Skr. j[=a]ra lover. Cf. Carl,
    Charles’s Wain.]
    1. A rustic; a countryman or laborer. “A peasant or churl.”
    –Spenser.
    [1913 Webster]

    Your rank is all reversed; let men of cloth
    Bow to the stalwart churls in overalls. –Emerson.
    [1913 Webster]

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 3

  5. CSK says:

    @JKB:

    Yes, I know quite well from whence the word “churl” derives; I have a Ph.D. in English literature (medieval). I also know what the word “churlish” means in present-day English: boorish, rude, vulgar, impolite, surly.

    Take your pick. They all apply to Trump.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  6. Gustopher says:

    By assigning to his son the task of fast-forwarding through all the plot exposition—Trump’s goal being “to get this two-hour movie down to forty-five minutes”—he eliminated any lulls between the nose hammering, kidney tenderizing, and shin whacking.

    He was utterly reliant on his family to do things for him even back then. Nice to see that things don’t change at all.

    He hadn’t met young master Jared yet, who would doubtless have been able to get it down to 35-40 minutes.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  7. CSK says:

    @Gustopher:

    I read somewhere that he can’t actually operate a personal computer; he has someone to Google things for him and print them out. He may also be incapable of operating a remote. I’m surprised he can access Twitter on his Android. Or maybe he dictates his Tweets.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  8. Gustopher says:

    @CSK: If he does dictate his tweets, how do I get that job?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  9. Kylopod says:

    I mentioned this last year, but Roger Ebert’s review of the movie Wall Street (which is worth a read in itself) made an intriguing observation about Trump:

    Although Gekko’s law-breaking would of course be opposed by most people on Wall Street, his larger value system would be applauded. The trick is to make his kind of money without breaking the law. Financiers who can do that, such as Donald Trump, are mentioned as possible presidential candidates, and in his autobiography Trump states, quite simply, that money no longer interests him very much. He is more motivated by the challenge of a deal and by the desire to win. His frankness is refreshing, but the key to reading that statement is to see that it considers only money, on the one hand, and winning, on the other. No mention is made about creating goods and services, to manufacturing things, to investing in a physical plant, to contributing to the infrastructure.

    Keep in mind that those words are from 30 years ago.

    Never mind for the moment that Trump’s ghostwriter Tony Schwartz has revealed that the line about not caring about money was a load of bollocks. The above paragraph still gets to the heart of Trump’s entire value system, where he divides the world into winners and losers, and where his overriding purpose in life is to be (or at least be perceived as) the former rather than the latter.

    In Trump’s universe it really is that simple. Most businessmen at least pay lip service to the idea of contributing to the world in some way. Trump uniquely strips away everything but the barest and most vulgar expressions of self-promotion. It’s always entirely about himself–and specifically about creating a narrative in which he’s conquering and destroying his enemies. That is, literally, the thing he values most in life, and it always has been.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  10. Just 'nutha ig'nint cracker says:

    @Gustopher: I have a friend who dictates his tweets. He uses Dragon Speak, IIRC. I would guess that Trump would do the same. It might even explain the typos, nonsequiteurs, and “covfefes.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  11. CSK says:

    @Just ‘nutha ig’nint cracker:

    Bigly.

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  12. @JKB:

    I’m sure that assessment is soothing,

    It is anything but soothing.

    Dislike his policies…

    Policies? What policies?

    And, I must confess, in the annals of argumentation and evidence, “Here, go watch this YouTube video” is not impressive. Especially when what we are talking about is a two minute snippet of an interview.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  13. JKB says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Policies? What policies?

    Saw that coming. Well, there are policies that pundits and academia like on paper and they have lots to jibber jabber about them. Then there are policies that are presented in the doing. Trump has the latter policies. Less talk, more walk. Feel free to wait for the paperwork before noticing Trump’s policies.

    I offered the video as an objective assessment. There is no need to offer argument or evidence of Trumps success in several difficult and complex venues. The evidence looms over Manhattan, over Hollywood, over Pennsylvania Avenue.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

  14. JKB says:

    @CSK: They all apply to Trump.

    Perhaps, but you fail to see the irony of calling a man who won the Presidency by appealing to the “lower rank” free people and showing disdain for the supposed betters a name with a root that means “lower ranked freeman”.

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  15. Matt says:

    @JKB: Yes he appealed to the minority of this country with his talks of giving everyone a unicorn and magical fairy dust..

    He’s always been a conman/used car salesman and he conned just enough in the right place to win.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  16. Gustopher says:

    @Just ‘nutha ig’nint cracker: The reason people suspect Trump of having someone dictate his tweets is that Trump doesn’t know how to use a computer. That would put Dragon Speak out of the picture.

    He uses an android, so he might just say “ok, google, tweet some offensive things”, and google might churn away and find some offensive things for him to tweet. But pictures… pictures seem hard.

    Presidential tweeter seems like a great job. I wouldn’t mind being woken at 6am because Trump wants to tweet something, so long as he didn’t check the results very carefully.

    Make America Grape Again!
    Make Armadillos Great Again!
    Make America Grrrrrrrrreat Again! (Tony the Tiger version)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  17. CSK says:

    @JKB:

    No. The overwhelming irony–and tragedy–is that you think this sleazebag is your savior.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  18. MarkedMan says:

    @JKB: He revitalized Manhattan, NYC, NY when no one else was apparently able. He developed and starred in a successful primetime television show. He not only won the Presidency, but did it with a unique campaign and for far, far less money than any of the professionals would have thought possible.

    Read more: http://www.outsidethebeltway.com/trump-profile-from-1997/#ixzz4lxtHV85v

    I will give you the accomplishment that he won the Republican nomination and then the Presidency. And yes, he was part of a reality TV show that was very successful for a couple of seasons before it plummeted in the ratings. It was #7 it’s first year , then in succeeding years it was #11, #15, #38 and so on until it bounced up and down between the high 40’s and 90th. So, yes, he had a solidly profitable reality TV show, as such shows are very inexpensive to produce.

    But the idea that Trump was in any way responsible for Manhattan’s resurgence is just completely laughable. Trump was liar and a cheat and a fraud, with multiple bankruptcies and bad feelings all around. By the time Manhattan was making its comeback, Trump was completely shut out of the island’s real estate market and was instead involved in selling his name to trashily built buildings and hotels, and laundering money for the the Russian mob. Trump was and always has been a complete phony when it came to his real estate “empire”. He burned through his immense inheritance until it was completely gone and then turned to marketing his “brand” to people who are impressed by such con men. He has been astoundingly successful in this sort of Jim and Tammy Faye Baker type of enterprise, although it may turn out that the money laundering for mobsters has been more important than selling “Trump” condos to hapless retirees, 40% of which go bankrupt and leave the purchasers with their savings lost. Trump, of course, has testified in court that despite what they were led to believe, Trump’s participation in this “real estate projects” is limited to his name and he gets his 25% when the deposit is placed and so doesn’t owe the suckers anything.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  19. Matthew Bernius says:

    @JKB:

    He revitalized Manhattan, NYC, NY when no one else was apparently able.

    Wah. Huh? What?

    You cannot honestly believe that? Right?

    While you have valid points about the election and the success of the apprentice, you honestly cannot believe this utter clap-trap as anyone coming from the tri-state area with a lick of honesty could tell you.

    While Trump did have success in the NYC housing market in the 80’s and early 90’s, the idea he “saved Manhattan” is completely laughable — especially given the size of his footprint in the city. There are other real estate developers who were far more successful than Trump operating in the same period. Or the external reinvestment during the 90’s that Giuliani helped bring in.

    BTW, care to address Trump’s foot print in Atlantic City — which he had proportionally far greater presence in. He really saved that city.

    Also, can you speak to how running a private, family business with little oversight, translates to running a government entity?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  20. @JKB:

    Saw that coming. Well, there are policies that pundits and academia like on paper and they have lots to jibber jabber about them. Then there are policies that are presented in the doing. Trump has the latter policies. Less talk, more walk. Feel free to wait for the paperwork before noticing Trump’s policies.

    Well, if you saw it coming this is not an especially good response. Indeed, it is a non-answer (moreover, it veers into Poe’s Law territory–seriously, are you trying your hand at parody/satire here?–No. Seriously.).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  21. Neil Hudelson says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Funny that while he “saw it coming,” he still failed to list a single policy. Even a “less-talky more-walky” policy. (A type of policy I must admit I didn’t know existed until now. )

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  22. AndrewBW says:

    @JKB: The one honest achievement I can give Trump is that when the Wollman Skating Rink in Central Park was in terrible condition and, if I remember correctly, facing closure, Trump came in and remodeled it. He did it relatively quickly and on budget, and he did a good job. I thank him for that.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  23. MarkedMan says:

    I always go back to the comments my nephew made a number of years ago when I asked if his Chicago based high-rise electrical system design and construction firm would get involved with the Trump tower there. He was a junior level guy there, a company that had projects all over the world on some of the tallest buildings. He said that he had brought it up, but the senior guys just laughed. They said that if Trump was actually involved in it, it couldn’t get built, because none of the firms of the size and heft necessary to get it done would ever work with him. They said Trump was well known as a) speccing the cheapest crap codes would allow, b) pointing the tenants to the contractors when they were dissatisfied with this junk, and c) stiffing them on the last payment, every time. They then told him that ever since Trump had been kicked out of NYC with his bankrupt a** waggling no “Trump” property of any size had ever been under his control.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  24. Steve V says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: I’m not a political scientist. Can you explain to me what “policies that are presented in the doing” are?

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  25. @Steve V: I really cannot say. It seems he is asserting that whatever Trump is doing (whatever that may be) somehow constitutes policy. Just not that kind that can be written down on paper 😉

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