Will someone please explain Donald Trump to me? It’s his renown I don’t get – you might even call it his “popularity” if you can use that term about him without choking on it.
People are actually reporting that since his ridiculous announcement of presidential candidacy, he is polling No. 2 among Republican hopefuls.
I’m going to leave that subject alone. My Trump problem is a more basic one entirely. I have never found anything remotely interesting about him – not even his money.
I was, as a child, told that one of the world’s most popular sayings was a Yiddish proverb: “If you want to know what God thinks of money, look at those he gives it to.”
Has there ever been a more perfect illustration of that folk wisdom than Trump?
If you’ve been following the latest meaningless bilge since Trump announced his presidential fantasies, you know that his blubbertongued B.S. about Mexicans offended so many people that the Univision Cable Network wants nothing more to do with him, including his beauty pageants (Miss USA and Miss Universe). Univision’s parent NBC agrees and raised its public disgust by throwing “The Apprentice” into the rubbish heap, too. Macy’s won’t sell his clothes anymore either.
Which brings up a whole file of questions I need help answering.
1. Who the devil BOUGHT anything in his clothing line in the first place? Who on earth wants to look like Trump? We can all thank heaven there are no Trump hair products sold at your drugstore.
2. Why did “The Apprentice” actually become a reality TV show?
Ask anyone I work with and they’ll probably tell you: I GET reality TV – some of it anyway. When it introduces you to bosses going undercover to find out what’s really going on in their businesses – and rewards their most productive and virtuous and needy employees – I get that. It’s a corny 21st century update of something you might have seen on ’50s television.
Who the devil wants to see people snarl and backstab and suck up to Trump just so that the wealthy Manhattan mega-jerk won’t say, at the end of that evening’s broadcast, “You’re fired!” The first and only time I ever watched a whole episode, I said to my TV “no, foo-foo head, YOU’RE fired. I wouldn’t watch your show again if NBC paid me weekly as much as you just to watch it.”
Maybe I exaggerate a trifle there. If NBC paid me Trump’s weekly salary for “The Apprentice,” I’d be happy to have his show on my TV for an hour while I pretended to watch.
Let’s all admit that it would be pleasant to have Trump’s money. As Dorothy Parker once confided about her absence of money and her certainty of her grace if she actually became rich, “I bet I’d be darling at it.” I myself would be perfectly splendid at being filthy rich, should the fates ever intervene and decree that, along with making pigs fly and blizzards bedevil hell, I should be wealthy.
I’ve known enough decent, even admirable, rich people in my life to withhold all irrational harsh judgment on all billionaires as a class. In general my questions about billionaires are these: 1) Where did the money come from? How did so much of it congeal so fortuitously for them? 2) Now that they’ve got all that money, what on earth are they doing with it all?
It is that second question where Trump stands beneath all consideration and probably beneath contempt, too.
Even if you’re one of those who think it was awfully nice of him to rescue the Miss USA and Miss Universe Pageants and admirable of him to befriend Vince McMahon and declare his affection for McMahon’s WWE, you might still wonder why anyone rich enough to have a home in Trump Tower would actually want a home with a foolish megalomaniac’s last name slapped on the front.
For those who don’t know, the Trump fortune began with his old man Fred Trump, who built a lot of low-cost homes and apartment houses. That was before his “mogul clown” son started slapping the family name on bars, ice cream, men’s wear and books with titles like “think like a billionaire” and “think like a champion.”
Back in 1988, the folks at Spy magazine famously referred to him as “that short-fingered vulgarian.”
I’ve come to understand that his blasts at Mexican Americans may be, in their way, a brilliant way for an egomaniac to guarantee attention while at the same time offending America’s fastest growing ethnic group so much that he’ll never have to do anything as difficult as actually be president.
Even so, my problem for decades now has been that I honestly don’t know the answers to questions like: Who wants to dress like him? Who wants to watch him weekly test mock “employees” and then fire them on prime time? Who needs to hear all the inane pointless things he says to bewildered late-night talk show hosts?
Do people really want to take Trump’s advice on how to become rich?
Let’s turn it upside down and rephrase the famous old folk expression: We’ve actually seen – or heard of – people whose amassing of billions and disposal of same actually seems, on occasion, to have been decent, even noble.
We can guess that our favorite deity, whoever that might be, would approve.
As long as “The Donald” insists on being famous in the worst ways, we’ll never lose sight of just how empty a commodity wealth can truly be in this world.
My question for NBC is: How did you put a reality show on the air without anyone being able to answer back when Trump snapped “You’re fired?”
Each episode of the show was always one sentence too short.
Was the NBC network that ignorant of desired dramatic climaxes that it always insisted on never showing us the obscene “employee” rejoinder all of us really wanted?