Explaining Donald Trump

Here's how he represents the American way, especially since he's out to screw you.

Donald Trump

Donald Trump Gage Skidmore via Wikimedia Commons

Donald Trump, GOP frontrunner for 2012, is a tacky, self-serving creep addicted to gazing in the mirror of public attention. So what? If he's warped, he's warped in a way that represents a dark and highly productive side of the American psyche.

You wouldn't think anyone would take him seriously, certainly not as a populist. He's attached himself to the rump of the Tea Party like a tick, despite the fact that he's preached the exploitation of the angry, alienated, recession-crushed voter he purports to champion.

In 2007, Trump's team swept into Seattle touting "Trump University" (an oxymoron?). In an ad in the Seattle P-I, Trump stated: "If you're not a millionaire by December 2008, you didn't attend my foreclosure workshop." 

Needless to say, I skipped it. But it says lot about Trump that where the rest of us saw misery in economic collapse, he saw an opportunity to exploit suffering by teaching you how to screw your neighbor (Screw thy Neighbor — which commandment is that?). As I wrote at the time, this whole approach was like watching a version of "It's a Wonderful Life" where the evil Mr. Potter wins.

Modern populism is full of such contradictions. Lou Dobbs is a millionaire, Ross Perot is an anti-government billionaire who made his pile off of government contracts. "The Donald" is populist because he's popular, on TV, ubiquitous. That he spouts babble is beside the point. He's also popular because he's willing to lead the lynchin' party for the Birthers and the pitchfork folks still angry about "the blacks" and affirmative action.

You might not love that guy, but you certainly know that guy, because as loathsome as he might be to people of gentle sensibilities, he is the guy that makes this country go. This became clear to me back when his show "The Apprentice" was launched. I discovered one day that a friend of mine loved the show. I was dumbfounded. Why? Because, he said, this is my world. As a sales manager, he thought this was reality TV at its finest.

"The Apprentice" is the sales world writ large. The crudity, the brutality, the banality, the dog-eat-dog competition: This is what virtually every sales force in the country experiences every day. They might not work for someone as egotistical as The Donald, or as rich — or they might work for someone way, way worse. A few try and keep it classy, but that rarely lasts these days. American business thrives on the warriors who compete for dollars and contracts and do the dirty work the guys like me don't have (or want) to think too much about. 

The grubbing for money, status, bonuses, and recognition is all about the dollar signs. Your compensation: It's in your own hands. Want your commissions? Get moving. Remember: The money in their pockets is yours, and you need to remind them to hand it over to you, now. Even if they loathe Trump and his ilk, the salespeople of America know him well. They've felt his foot on their necks.

So have we all. America doesn't make much anymore, but we do know how to sell. The creative class? It's mostly about hype, brand, "added value." But it works: We have to compete by selling. Trump is both the ultimate salesman and the ultimate archetype of salesman. A gilded "world class" archetype, I might add. He's what makes the economy run, he is where our global edge lies. Well, that and innovation. But true innovation is so rare and so hard. Easier to sell that old Chevy already on the lot.

Trump is the pied piper of bullshitters, leading them to the promised land where they can apprentice under him and learn how to succeed in business by crushing the family or nation next door, who, by the way, you don't know or care about anyway — and besides, they'd do it to you if they could. If it's kill or be killed, let's be a nation of killer salesmen.


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Comments:

Posted Fri, Apr 29, 5:45 a.m. Inappropriate

Knute,
Why so many words in your article? OHS.. "Over Hyped Slime" says it all

Posted Fri, Apr 29, 6:17 a.m. Inappropriate

You could just substitute a few names to make it accurate for our region.

Here's how he ( Insert Constantine, McGinn) represents the Seattle way, especially since he's out to screw you.

Not to leave out the elected ladies.

Here's how she ( Insert Gregoire, Murray, Cantwell) represents the Washington way, especially since she's out to screw you.

Public sector, private sector, does it really matter?

Cameron

Posted Fri, Apr 29, 8:11 a.m. Inappropriate

Knute, I had heretofore (erroneously, I guess) put you above the shrill partisan hacks parading as journalists. I am not a Trump supporter, but I believe our civic discourse should strive toward more maturity. You have chosen to join the those who would take us in another direction. I, sincerely, hope you will endeavor to exercise your position with greater respect and responsibility for our national process, your role as as a journalist and your readers.

BlueLight

Posted Fri, Apr 29, 8:15 a.m. Inappropriate

Just because Trump is a scummy guy involved in business, it doesn't make business scummy. Free enterprise has lifted mankind out of the dark ages and into a world where even people below the poverty level have TV sets and automobiles. There are greedy and parasitic actors in government as well. Just like the three branches of government, the adversarial relationship between big business and big government is an important check and balance mechanism in keeping our society free. When business and government get in bed together, in the form of crony capitalism, that balance is lost as the forces of power (government) and money (big business) trade the people like pawns in a chess game.

One of the reasons Trump is so irksome is that he is a crony capitalist. He relies on government power to seize the property on which he builds many of his developments. If the US voters were ever to elect such a man to a position of power, they'd have a rude awakening that would make the buyer's remorse that they feel towards Obama seem like adulation.

dbreneman

Posted Fri, Apr 29, 8:46 a.m. Inappropriate

what "the donald" lacks is the driven nature
of the marketer who sticks fistfulls of 100 dollar bills
in front of his sales persons' noses, dicks them with his dick, and screams "write some numb's, bitch." nor does "the donald" have the driven quality of "what makes sammy run" - "the donald" is the LIBERACE of salemen, he's camp!

mikerol

Posted Fri, Apr 29, 8:51 a.m. Inappropriate

Thanks dbreneman. I had forgotten (if I ever knew) about Trump's slimy and statist government use of eminent domain.

For example:

"Trump has attempted to use the same tactics in Connecticut and has championed the reviled Kelo vs. City of New London Supreme Court ruling upholding expansive use of eminent domain. He told Fox News anchor Neil Cavuto that he agreed with the ruling "100 percent" and defended the chilling power of government to kick people out of their homes and businesses based on arbitrary determinations:
   
'The fact is, if you have a person living in an area that's not even necessarily a good area, and government, whether it's local or whatever, government wants to build a tremendous economic development, where a lot of people are going to be put to work and make (an) area that's not good into a good area, and move the person that's living there into a better place -- now, I know it might not be their choice -- but move the person to a better place and yet create thousands upon thousands of jobs and beautification and lots of other things, I think it happens to be good.' "

http://www.humanevents.com/article.php?id=43100

Posted Fri, Apr 29, 8:56 a.m. Inappropriate

I don't agree that Trump is the logical candidate for our times. He is simply a racist bully and is a further embarrassment to our (once great) nation.

seakat

Posted Fri, Apr 29, 9:05 a.m. Inappropriate

Aaron Goldstein in the Spectator says what I feel:

"......if you were to ask me how to describe President Obama I would call him a petulant, preening, thin-skinned dilettante who thinks he is beyond criticism. But if you were to ask me how to describe Donald Trump, well, I would call him a petulant, preening, thin-skinned dilettante who thinks he is beyond criticism........"

But any current "polling" support for Trump reflects name recognition and nothing more. Get to a real primary election I doubt he'll go anywhere.

Posted Fri, Apr 29, 11:47 a.m. Inappropriate

If someone has the idea that Obama released the birth certificate to make Trump look good because Trump could be a weak and comical Republican nominee. think of the old expression "Be careful what you wish for."

I think that Trump is tapping into a vein of anxiety and fear which is making him a very effective candidate. Don't laugh too soon.

Posted Fri, Apr 29, 12:08 p.m. Inappropriate

kilgoretrout evidently is living up to his name where a trout and a sturgeon look the same. that "promise breaker", that "moderate republican" Barrack Obama inspires not much admiration in me, but he does not appear to be thinskinned or preening or petulant, and he's pretty much of a pro, and is pleasantly even-tempered.

mikerol

Posted Fri, Apr 29, 12:56 p.m. Inappropriate

I'm with John Stewart. I hope he runs. Pleeze run

Artifacts

Posted Fri, Apr 29, 2:57 p.m. Inappropriate

You know you have hit bottom when you get a lecture on maturity from Brother BlueLight.

woofer

Posted Fri, Apr 29, 4:26 p.m. Inappropriate

Woofer...amen to that!

chazbear

Posted Fri, Apr 29, 9:53 p.m. Inappropriate

Not long ago, Ralph Nader asserted in an editorial that Donald Trump was on the DNC payroll. It wouldn't surprise me. Is there a Republican out there who is not embarrassed by this clown?

In the world of sales--and I can attest to this though my own experience and that of family members--there is the mountaintop attitude. Your value is how much you make, and your character is the lengths to which you go to succeed. It is how hard you work, how assertive you are willing to be, and, when crunch time comes, what ethical corners you are willing to cut. It's not so different in politics, and though few people will admit it, there is something very appealing, in a world of empty campaign rhetoric, about a genuine "f--- you" candidate.

But if you really want to identify a villain here, the press as a whole is your best target. Donald Trump's "campaign" deserves as much coverage as the ravings of Lyndon LaRouche. The fact that his antics garner so much coverage shows a complete lack of respect both for the American public and the political process. None of the last few Presidential elections left me with any illusions that the press coverage would contain any discussion of issues, but I never cease to me amazed at the low water marks that are continually set.

Posted Fri, Apr 29, 10:35 p.m. Inappropriate

I must say that I totally enjoyed watching the Royal Wedding in lieu of all the other stuff going on in the world including Donald Trump . . . Why can't every day be a royal wedding?

Susan White

Posted Sat, Apr 30, 5:31 p.m. Inappropriate

There are plenty of Republicans who aren't embarassed by Trump. Probably most of them aren't. If they weren't embarassed by W, why should Trump embarass them?

sarah90

Posted Sun, May 1, 6:27 a.m. Inappropriate

There are plenty of Democrats who aren't embarassed by Obama. Probably most of them aren't. If they were not embarassed by Clinton, why should Obama embarass them?

Cameron

Posted Sun, May 1, 9:10 a.m. Inappropriate

Trump builds expensive buildings and golf courses. Others get shot dead and their estates receive $1,500,000. Go figure.

animalal

Posted Wed, May 4, 7:15 p.m. Inappropriate

I don't think that President Obama is worried about "the donald."

bconrad

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