It’s pretty clear that Donald Trump is not going to like Mark Singer’s new book Trump and Me.
Trump wasn’t a fan of Singer’s revealing 1997 profile, and this reprinting includes an introduction about Trump’s sustained tirade against Singer and an afterword that excoriates Trump’s more recent whipping of lies, hyperbole, and invective into a toxic campaign meringue.
After the original profile was published in The New Yorker, Trump complained to then-editor Tina Brown. Later that year, he disparaged Singer in his book Trump: The Art of the Comeback. After the profile appeared in Singer’s 2005 collection of profiles, Trump wrote a letter to the New York Times Book Review to note that Singer “writes poorly.” When Singer wrote to Trump to thank him for bumping the book’s sales, Trump wrote back: “Mark, you are a total loser!”
Trump would find the 110-page Trump and Me unconscionably concise. After all, this is a guy who thinks big. “I’m the biggest developer in New York,” he told Singer in an interview. “And I’m the biggest there is in the casino business.” The yacht he was planning as part of his Atlantic City casino expansion was “going to be the largest yacht in the world.”
And given how insecure and self-conscious Trump is about his abnormally small hands — and how irritated he must be that late-night hosts and the Insecure Billionaires with Tiny Hands PAC won’t stop talking about them — he may suspect the book’s teeny-tiny printing is metaphorically mocking his manos pequeñas.
The book denotes a remarkable consistency in Trump’s persona. He was as crass (describing an attractive woman as “a total piece of ass”) and as ostentatious (having a garish fountain in his living room and a gold-plated bidet — with a leather lid! — on his jet) two decades ago as he is today.
It’s hard not to parody Trump’s taste — his life-sized portrait of himself (called The Visionary no less), the fountain in his living room — but the consistency of the superlative-speak he has employed in the campaign with the way he spoke two decades ago is more distressing. He barely tempers his praise for the objectively mediocre. Jean-Claude Van Damme’s Bloodsport is “an incredible, fantastic movie,” Trump says at one point, fast-forwarding through the talky parts.
It’s funny when a real-estate mogul talks about even the most trifling things in those terms — his chef making “the greatest meat loaf in the world” — but a president who speaks in such empty platitudes starts wars and sinks markets.
In the afterward to Trump and Me, Singer tags Trump the candidate as having “no core beliefs, no describable political philosophy, and not an iota of curiosity about the practicality of policy and governance.” That, unfortunately, leaves more room for good intentions than Trump has shown during the campaign.
Trump, as the conservative National Review has pointed out, wants new libel laws that would allow him to sue news organizations that criticize him, views eminent domain as a tool of private real estate development, says his foreign policy would include killing the families of terrorists, and lacks even a rudimentary, middle-school understanding of the Constitution. His branding of people — Little Marco, Lyin’ Ted, calling women “fat pigs” — is an extension of that oversimplified worldview.
On the plus side for Trump, the book is about his favorite subject. And all publicity is good publicity whether you’re running a real estate empire or running for president.