Trump is who he is

The LA Times posted the following letter from Donald Trump to the newspaper back in 2007 wherein DJT complained about an LAT reporter:

What is striking to me is that the syntax and pettiness are no different than what we currently see on the campaign trail.  This is simply who Trump is:  a self-aggrandizing, thin-skinned man.

And no, this is not new nor is it surprising.  But it is worth pointing out because I think some people still think he is putting on an act to some degree, but I think we are seeing exactly who he is.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2016, Quick Takes, US Politics
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. 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. CSK says:

    Where you and I see a petty, thin-skinned, self-aggrandizing man, his followers see a strong man who fights back against his enemies. This letter would be further proof to them of that.

  2. @CSK: Of course. There are still a few who think he is putting on an act, however. This suggests he isn’t.

    Regardless, anyone who thinks this demonstrates a powerful man… Well, I guess I will just say: sad.

  3. CSK says:

    As I’ve said, maybe one has to be from the greater New York area or at least the northeast to appreciate fully that he’s always been this way.

    Apparently Trump has just bagged his first major newspaper endorsement: from the Las Vegas Review Journal, which is owned by Sheldon Adelson.

  4. Kylopod says:

    But it is worth pointing out because I think some people still think he is putting on an act to some degree, but I think we are seeing exactly who he is.

    You can count me as someone who used to be convinced he was putting on an act. Before his entry into far-right politics in 2011 I didn’t have a strong opinion about him one way or the other. He was always a ridiculous figure, but no more so than a ton of other celebrities, and I didn’t really pay much attention to him. To this day I have never watched The Apprentice. Back in the mid-2000s when he was having those feuds with Rosie O’Donnell, I sighed whenever I saw them in the headlines that I never bothered to click on. I had the sneaking feeling he and O’Donnell were out having coffee together and laughing about their orchestrated “feud.”

    The evidence that he was every bit as big of a narcissistic, misogynistic jerk as he appeared to be was always there. But since he occupied the periphery of my vision, I never bothered looking for this evidence. The problem is that he came off as such a cartoon character that one could scarcely believe anyone like that could be for real. Besides, we live in a culture filled with celebrities–actors, singers, pro-wrestlers, and so on–who seem to exist on the edge of self-parody, who cultivate shock and outrage as a conscious strategy to gain more publicity for themselves. Trump very much seems to come from that universe, and yet it’s clear by now that in many respects he’s not just play-acting: he really is an overgrown teenage bully. In thinking otherwise, I’m not sure if my fault was being too cynical or not cynical enough.

  5. michael reynolds says:

    I never thought it was an act. I said from Day One he’s a psychopath, a narcissist, quite a bit dumber than people think, and most likely suffers from untreated ADHD and dyslexia.

  6. CSK says:

    @michael reynolds:

    But have you known this for 30 years, as those of us in the northeast have? I wonder only because this knowledge, had it been wider spread, might have averted the present situation.

    I agree with your diagnosis, by the way. It’s just that I had arrived at it by 1986.

  7. @CSK: to this point, i have known of Trump as a cartoon character/buffoon for decades (and I lived in CA/TX/AL). I also knew about his marriages.

    I never watched “The Apprentice” (and never saw the appeal).

  8. CSK says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Nor have I ever watched The Apprentice. My point was that some of us knew that this guy was not just a buffoon but actively malevolent, way before then.

  9. Joe says:

    @michael reynolds:

    I still question your diagnosis of dyslexia. Who is tweeting for him at all hours? However ridiculous, outrageous or sad they are, they are correctly spelled. Full time scribe?

  10. Ratufa says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    As someone who has watched The Apprentice, that show consistently presented Trump as a hard-nosed but fair businessman. It was always made to appear that Trump’s decision as to who got fired was a correct one. I can imagine that someone whose pre-election knowledge of Trump was mainly from watching that show would have a positive opinion of him.

  11. Kylopod says:

    @Ratufa:

    I can imagine that someone whose pre-election knowledge of Trump was mainly from watching that show would have a positive opinion of him.

    It’s kind of like the way a lot of people’s perception of Bill Cosby was shaped by the character he played on The Cosby Show.

  12. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: The appeal–at least for me–was watching the contestants fawning over Trump’s “Louis Quatorze/Bordello” apartment decor as though that’s how rich people live.

    Then again, I also watch “Hell’s Kitchen” occasionally. It cracks me up to see people who are professional executive chefs for restaurants and hotel chains showing that they can’t actually cook.

  13. DrDaveT says:

    @michael reynolds:

    I said from Day One he’s a psychopath

    Graphology is almost entirely snake oil, but handwriting analysts would have a field day with that signature.

  14. Andrew says:

    @DrDaveT: It is what I thought Mel Brooks signature as the governor in Blazing Saddles would look like.

    Governor William J. Lepetomane!

    Except Trump would be ogling Ivanka. Not his assistant.

  15. michael reynolds says:

    @CSK:
    I have to admit (or is it proudly assert?) that I never paid any attention to The Donald. It would be hard to overstate my indifference to celebrities generally. He was just some blowhard I’d see on Letterman occasionally. You know: the good old days.

  16. michael reynolds says:

    @Joe:

    I have a daughter with dyslexia and related ADD, so it wasn’t hard to spot. Look for the avoidance mechanisms. It’s all about the dog that doesn’t bark. Dyslexics can be brilliant at concealing their difficulty. Also, it’s not all-in or all-out, there are gradations. My daughter (16) manages to text quite well. One might even say obsessively. One might even say I’ve forgotten what her face looks like when it’s not illuminated by sickly glow of an iPhone. Do not challenge the girl to a thumb war.

  17. michael reynolds says:

    @DrDaveT:

    I’m probably not one to talk. My oldest says my signature looks like the EEG of a heart-attack patient. And my ‘official’ pseudonymous author autograph is basically an M a G and a big phallic-looking scribble.

  18. CSK says:

    @michael reynolds:

    You’re in California, and I’m assuming–possibly incorrectly–you have been for most of your adult life. On my side of the country, it was impossible to escape Trump. I wish more people across the U.S.A. had known he was considerably worse than just a loud-mouthed vulgar buffoon. Though I admit that those qualities are what appeal to his most ardent fans.

  19. I remember reading about Trump in Brazilian Magazines in the 90’s.

  20. Jen says:

    @michael reynolds: I saw a comment on a blog (I think it was on The Slot, a Jezebel sub-pub) that made a fairly convincing argument that a number of his behavior characteristics could be explained by complications from FAS. I loathe diagnosis from afar, but it was compelling reading.

  21. Joe says:

    @michael reynolds:

    My youngest = 17. In my house, we call that sickly glow “whispering under the table.” But I will defer to your experience of dyslexia. I have seen this concealing behavior in successful dyslexics.

    @CSK:

    Being from the Midwest (the birthplace of those who use lotteries winnings to seek the grandeur of Trump-named Vegas properties) and never having watched The Apprentice (so viciously robbed of an Emmy – so sad), I don’t think I had ever taken a direct look at Trump before he descended the escalator into the seventh depth of this election cycle. I still had a horrible opinion of him, which he has done nothing but confirm, reaffirm, solidify and repeat.

  22. KM says:

    @Joe:

    I still question your diagnosis of dyslexia. Who is tweeting for him at all hours? However ridiculous, outrageous or sad they are, they are correctly spelled. Full time scribe?

    Talk & type then autocorrect the red underlined words – a whole generation of elderly non-typers learned that trick pretty quickly. Considering how often he uses the damn thing, the predictive text on his phone might qualify as a AI pretty soon…

  23. MBunge says:

    This is simply who Trump is: a self-aggrandizing, thin-skinned man.

    And the candidate whose campaign slogan is like a feudal pledge of loyalty ISN’T self-aggrandizing?

    I do have to admit that while Trump still has a pretty outside chance to win, it’s rather fascinating to think of what will happen in 2020 after he probably loses. We’ll either get an “I told you so” campaign from Trump or the Republicans will nominate a more traditional candidate, and in either case I can’t wait to hear the character attacks then. There’s not much more that could be thrown at Trump unless you’re going to start with some homophobic insinuations, and the I think the reaction will be damn hilarious when you start saying “No, we were wrong. This new Republican, he’s really the worst human being who ever lived. This time we’re being serious.”

    Mike

  24. Rafer Janders says:

    @MBunge:

    Again, no one here cares you’re going to vote for Trump. Your endless evasions and distractions — “look over there! A politician has a campaign slogan that mentions that politician!” — to try to rationalize away what even you recognize as a horrible thing are pretty boring by now.

  25. @MBunge:

    And the candidate whose campaign slogan is like a feudal pledge of loyalty ISN’T self-aggrandizing?

    Every candidate for the presidency (and, indeed, all offices) is an egoist and a self-aggrandizer.

    BUT, someone who has to start off a letter with “I am worth many billions of dollars…” is in a special league of his own.

    And seriously, his business model is selling his name.

    “No, we were wrong. This new Republican, he’s really the worst human being who ever lived. This time we’re being serious.”

    I have not said that. And I suppose someone, somewhere may have said it, but the bottom line is that he is the worst major party nominee of the modern era and very possibly of all time. And I very much mean that.

    Yes, Republican nominees have been criticized by Dems in the past (and vice versa–weird how that works), but the notion that Trump is being treated the same as past Rep nomineess is rather undercut by the way many Reps are reacting to him. George Will quit the party. Charles Krauthammer says he will not vote for him. There are elected members of his own party that have likewise stated they cannot support him,. You simply cannot pretend like the criticism of Trump is just standard election year rhetoric.

  26. An Interested Party says:

    I do have to admit that while Trump still has a pretty outside chance to win…

    BWHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!! Who was that guy who used to post on here who was always talking about Obama was going to lose (in both presidential elections) and was always wrong (obviously)…he also had a strange pattern of phrases that he always used…

    …I can’t wait to hear the character attacks then.

    You write that as if the attacks on Trump are somehow unfair or unwarranted…surely you can’t be that delusional…

  27. Stormy Dragon says:

    @Joe:

    However ridiculous, outrageous or sad they are, they are correctly spelled.

    Reading and writing are handled by completely separate parts of the brain, so it is possible to be dyslexic and still be an excellent speller. A particularly extreme example would be novelist Howard Engel, who completely lost the ability to read following a 2001 stroke, yet still retains the ability to write perfectly well.

  28. al-Ameda says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    BUT, someone who has to start off a letter with “I am worth many billions of dollars…” is in a special league of his own.

    I think the book end companion phrase would be: “Do you know who I am?”

  29. @al-Ameda: Indeed.

  30. Alex says:

    I keep thinking back to that old Bugs Bunny cartoon:
    “I am Elmer J. Fudd, millionaire. I own a mansion and a yacht.”