Donald Trump Does Not Want Me To Tell You This … by Mark Bowden – Vanity Fair

Over a long weekend on assignment for Playboy magazine, Mark Bowden found that behind the garish Trump façade lies only more ugliness.

Donald Trump Does Not Want Me To Tell You This … by Mark Bowden – Vanity Fair

I spent a long, awkward weekend with Donald Trump in November 1996, an experience I feel confident neither of us would like to repeat.

He was like one of those characters in an 18th-century comedy meant to embody a particular flavour of human folly. Trump struck me as adolescent, hilariously ostentatious, arbitrary, unkind, profane, dishonest, loudly opinionated, and consistently wrong. He remains the most vain man I have ever met. And he was trying to make a good impression. Who could have predicted that those very traits, now on prominent daily display, would turn him into the leading G.O.P. candidate for president of the United States?

His latest outrageous edict on banning all Muslims from entering the country comes as no surprise to me based on the man I met nearly 20 years ago. He has no coherent political philosophy, so comparisons with Fascist leaders miss the mark. He just reacts. Trump lives in a fantasy of perfection, with himself as its animating force. 

Before I met him back in 1996, I felt bad for him. He’d had a rough 10 years. He had just turned 50 and wasn’t happy about it. He looked soft, from his growing jowls to the way his belt bit deeply into the spreading roll of his belly. As a businessman he had crashed and burned, rescued only by creditors who had to bail him out lest they be dragged down with him. His enterprises were being run by court-appointed managers, who had put him back on his financial feet mostly by investing heavily in Atlantic City, which was then on the rise.

He had insulated himself from failure with bluster. In public he was still The Donald—still rich, still working hard at being a symbol of excess. I was working on a profile of him for Playboy, which was his kind of magazine. He considered himself the magazine’s beau ideal, and was inordinately proud of having been featured on the magazine’s cover some years before. His then wife, Marla Maples, told him, sardonically, that he ought to buy the magazine: “You bought the Miss Universe Pageant; it’s right up your alley.” He must have figured it was a safe bet to agree to cooperate for my story. But well before I left him, we both knew he probably wouldn’t like the final product.

I was prepared to like him as I boarded his black 727 at La Guardia for the flight to Mar-a-Lago, his Florida home—prepared to discover that his over-the-top public persona was a clever pose. That underneath was an ironic wit, an ordinary but clever guy. But no. With Trump, what you see is what you get. His behaviour was cringe-worthy. He showed off the gilded interior of his plane—calling me over to inspect a Renoir on its walls, beckoning me to lean in closely to see . . . what? The luminosity of the brush strokes? The masterly use of color? No. The signature. “Worth $10 million,” he told me. Time after time the stories he told me didn’t check out, from Michael Jackson’s romantic weekend at Mar-a-Lago with his then wife Lisa Marie Presley (they stayed at opposite ends of the estate) to the rug in one bedroom he said was designed by Walt Disney when he was 18 (it wasn’t) to the strength of his marriage to Maples (they would split months later).

It was hard to watch the way he treated those around him, issuing peremptory orders—“Polish this, Tony. Today.” He met with the lady who selected his drapery for the Florida estate—“The best! The best! She’s a genius!”—who had selected a sampling of fabrics for him to choose from, all different shades of gold. He left the choice to her, saying only, “I want it really rich. Rich, rich, elegant, incredible.” Then, “Don’t disappoint me.” It was a pattern. Trump did not make decisions. He surrounded himself with “geniuses” and delegated. So long as you did not “disappoint” him—and it was never clear how to avoid doing so—you were gold.

What was clear was how fast and far one could fall from favour. The trip from “genius” to “idiot” was a flash. The former pilots who flew his plane were geniuses, until they made one too many bumpy landings and became “fucking idiots.” The gold carpeting selected in his absence for the locker rooms in the spa at Mar-a-Lago? “What kind of fucking idiot . . . ?” I watched as Trump strutted around the beautifully groomed clay tennis courts on his estate, managed by noted tennis proAnthony Boulle. The courts had been prepped meticulously for a full day of scheduled matches. Trump took exception to the design of the spaces between courts. In particular, he didn’t like a small metal box—a pump and cooler for the water fountain alongside—which he thought looked ugly. He first questioned its placement, then crudely disparaged it, then kicked the box, which didn’t budge, and then stooped—red-faced and fuming—to tear it loose from its moorings, rupturing a water line and sending a geyser to soak the courts. Boulle looked horrified, a weekend of tennis abruptly drowned. Catching a glimpse of me watching, Trump grimaced.

“I guess that’ll have to be in your story,” he said.

“Pretty much,” I told him.

This apparently worried him, because on the flight home a day later he had a proposition.

“I’m looking for somebody to write my next book,” he told me.

I told him that I would not be interested.

“Why not?” he asked. “All my books become best-sellers.”

The import was clear. There was money in it for me. Trump remains the only person I have ever written about who tried to bribe me.

As I’ve watched his improbable political rise, it is clear that he hasn’t changed. The very things that made him so unappealing apparently now translate into wide popular support. Apart from the comical ego, the errors, and the self-serving bluster, what you get from Trump are commonplace ideas pronounced as received wisdom. Begin registering all Muslims in America? Round up the families of suspected terrorists? Ban all Muslims from entering the country? Carpet-bomb ISIS-held territories in Iraq (killing the 98-plus percent of civilians who are, in effect, being held hostage there by the terror group and turning a war against a tiny fraction of the world’s Muslims into a global religious crusade)? Using nuclear weapons? The ideas that pop into his head are the same ones that occur to any teenager angry about terror attacks. They appeal to anyone who can’t be bothered to think them through—can’t be bothered to ask not just the moral questions but the all-important practical one: Will doing this make things better or worse? When you believe in your own genius, you don’t question your own flashes of inspiration.

I got a call from his office some days after my profile of him appeared in the May 1997 issue of Playboy. I had already heard how he’d blown his stack to Christie Hefner. I was traveling at the time, working on my book Black Hawk Down. The call came to me in a motel room in Colorado, from his trusty assistant, the late Norma Foerderer.

“Mr. Trump would like to talk to you,” she said.

I waited, sitting on the edge of the bed, bracing myself.

Foerderer came back on the line. She said:

“He’s too livid to speak.”

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Comments

  • Clyde Duncan  On 12/13/2015 at 3:25 am

    “I’m looking for somebody to write my next book,” he told me.

    I told him that I would not be interested.

    “Why not?” he asked. “All my books become best-sellers.”

    The import was clear. There was money in it for me. Trump remains the only person I have ever written about who tried to bribe me.

    I hope President Obama, the Greatest President of the United States of America, the World Has Ever Known – would pardon the theft of the title of his book here, which I believe is apropos, ….

    Trump tried to bribe Mark Bowden to write some lie about how wonderful he is …. Of course, Trump is white and blonde – I call this an example of …

    The Audacity of Hope.

  • Darien Francis  On 12/13/2015 at 1:34 pm

    You are all a disillusioned bunch. You should stick to the local politics of a small insignificant country called Guyana. You would not be the first set of Guyanese I have met suffering from an inferiority complex.

  • Clyde Duncan  On 12/14/2015 at 2:45 am

    Mark Bowden ….?? “disillusioned ….?” – Darien Francis: You need to undergo some therapy for your “inferiority complex” …. that is what I surmise.

  • Clyde Duncan  On 12/19/2015 at 2:11 pm

    Joshua du Bois – The President’s Devotional:

  • Darien Francis  On 12/19/2015 at 2:28 pm

    So this is just a reprint from Vanity Fair. So I owe you some apologies. My beef would be with Mark Bowden.
    I was put off by the title of this blog: Guyana News and news from Guyanese Associations worldwide.

  • Clyde Duncan  On 12/19/2015 at 4:42 pm

    Dear Obama Hater – You Just Wasted A Decade of Your Life – by Bernard Pliers – Daily Kos

    Lots of you continue to get unhinged emails from people on Facebook, your drunk uncle, and various Tea Party relatives. Here’s a gentle response to them….
    Pretty soon Obama will be gone and you will have to face up to the fact that you will have lost a whole decade of your life passing around conspiracy theories and whipping yourself into a frenzy of hatred. All of you lost friends, severed relationships with family members, and some of you even lost your job or your marriage due to your unhinged behaviour.

    You lost that decade wailing about Obama the gay Communist Muslim narcissist dictator who was going to let the UN invade America and various hoaxes like “death panels,” birth certificates, Iraq’s WMDs, and the “Ground Zero Mosque” (remember how you wasted two years of your life over that?). Just think of what you could have accomplished if you hadn’t wasted all that time. You could have gotten a college degree, you could have written a book, you could have run your first marathon, you could have built a boat and sailed it around the world. You could learned to speak another language – oh wait, you never would have done that? – Okay!

    You kept waiting for Obama to be impeached or for the GOP candidates to “take off the gloves.” But they never did because your favorite stories were hoaxes, and the GOP can’t impeach or win the White House based on hoaxes. No doubt you were waiting for someone, anyone, in the White House to be indicted or arrested, like all those people under Nixon and Reagan and Bush – but no dice.

    Many of you will never recover from this experience. Physically, your health is no doubt worse for having lost a decade watching television and whipping yourself into a frenzy of hatred. Your ability to reason is probably permanently damaged, and nobody really wants to listen to your opinions anyway. Yes, you can successfully annoy the waitress at the diner, because she can’t run away from a customer, but that doesn’t mean she agrees with you. Some of you will be going into nursing homes because people gave up on you a long time ago and nobody can stand to listen to one more day of you babbling about Saul Alinsky (who died in 1972, by the way).

    Some of you have no doubt suffered financially from all the time you wasted hating Obama. But some of you have actually done very, very, well under his “anti-capitalist,” “communist,” “dictatorship.” You do know that the economy usually does much better under Democrats, right? And that the best four years of job creation in the last 50 years was under Jimmy Carter, right?

    The next two years would be a good chance to start making amends to your families and trying to rebuild relations with people in your life. Yes we know there’s another election in 2016 and you’ll be falling down the next rabbit hole of insanity, but try to leave your families with a few memories of you acting like a normal human being.

    And the next time there is a GOP president, just remember that there will be fatal embassy attacks under the GOP president, just like the dozens of fatal embassy attacks that occurred under previous Republican presidents. Except, Democrats won’t be working themselves into a frenzy of conspiracy theories when it happens, they won’t be cheerleading for the terrorists, and they won’t be trying to overthrow the US government every time something happens.

  • Deen  On 12/20/2015 at 12:33 am

    Trump is an egomaniac, the epitome of a narcissist. A true reflection of him is when he sits on the toilet and looks down….yes he’s full of it. A total embarrassment to the United States, all intelligent Americans, and the Republican Party. Never has the political republican platform look so ridiculous, lack civility and is devoid of intellectual discussions.
    Trump is the ace card for the Democratic Party win in 2016.

    • Darien Francis  On 12/20/2015 at 9:48 am

      Your are probably an extreme left winger, maybe communist. You use all these silly bombastic words to try as hard as you can to make him sound bad. So if what you are saying is correct you should be happy your club will win the Presidential election.

      My profile is clearly visible I don’t have to hide. I am a native of Jamaica now a citizen of the USA. What country are you from where do you reside now?

      Anyway in the USA there is freedom of speech and a candidate running in a primary has the right to saying what he believes in. One of the virtues of Trump is he says exactly what is on his mind and his whole life is up for granular scrutiny. It is up to the GOP to elect as their representative or not… not you!
      Right now he is way ahead in the polls. You should take the time to read more about the man before vilifying him https://www.wharton.upenn.edu/125anniversaryissue/trump.html. and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donald_Trump

      Next post I will give you factual evidence of the man in the highest office that HAS embarrassed the USA.

      But for now it seems you are shaking in your boots because Trump is not your man and he may well be the next President that will ..yes, Make America great again!

  • Deen  On 12/20/2015 at 1:40 pm

    Yea Mon, free speech! You have your opinion and I have mine. I’m not a communist….you sound like Senator McCarthy. Much power to you and Trump….you’ll need it. The United States may not do everything right, but with a person of Trump’s myopic intelligence in office, everything will be wrong. Peace.
    Just to lighten up here’s a joke for you. I hope you enjoy it.

    This is true political humor.

    Donald Trump was invited to address a major gathering of the American Indian Nation two weeks ago in upstate New York

    He spoke for almost an hour about his plans for increasing every Native American’s present standard of living. He referred to how he had supported every Native American issue that came to the news media.

    Although Mr Trump was vague about the details of his plans, he seemed most enthusiastic and spoke eloquently about his ideas for helping his “red sisters and brothers.”

    At the conclusion of his speech, the Tribes presented him with a plaque inscribed with his new Indian name, “Walking Eagle.”

    The proud Mr Trump accepted the plaque and then departed in his motorcade to a fundraiser, waving to the crowds.

    A news reporter later asked the group of chiefs how they came to select the new name they had given to the Donald.

    They explained that “Walking Eagle” is the name given to a bird so full of shit it can no longer fly.

    P.S. I have great respect for the native Americans…..and their wisdom.

    • Darien Francis  On 12/20/2015 at 2:41 pm

      Here is one for you:
      When Obama last visited Africa he toured all over different parts and made his speeches about his love for Africans and how he is changing the lives of black people in America.
      Everywhere he went “Ngaga” “Ngaga” “Ngaga” the crowd roared back as Obama beamed with pride.

      Later on his tour he visited one of the Farms in a village and asked to go to see one of the cowpens. His aides walked with him and he entered one of the stalls.

      One of the Africans grabbed his arm when he was walking and pulled him and said be careful or you will step in the “Ngaga”. What is that he asked the interpreter. “Bullshit” he said.

      • Deen  On 12/20/2015 at 3:46 pm

        Love it Darien. Peace. Politics is divisive, but humor and laughter are medicine for the soul.

      • Darien Francis  On 12/20/2015 at 4:01 pm

        Yes indeed. Best thing in the world when we can respect each others opinion. Best to you and your family for the holidays. Cheers

  • Clyde Duncan  On 12/20/2015 at 6:25 pm

    Confucius says “Respect yourself and others will respect you.”

    I do not respect anyone or the opinion of anyone who does not respect themself

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