Monday, July 27, 2020

The two best quotes in Mary L. Trump's book



If you're looking for a salacious exposé of Donald Trump in Mary L. Trump's Too Much and Never Enough, you'll be very disappointed. The book is part memoir, part history, never really succeeding at either. It does paint something of a portrait of a cold, greedy family and a bratty kid who never learned his lesson.

Donald Trump was that snotty, misbehaving kid we all recognize from our school days--the one who tormented teachers and weaker kids alike. The one who bullied and got away with it because the other kids knew better than to talk and the adults who should have disciplined him refused to do so.

He was kicked out of private school and sent to a military academy, a reform school, something he well knew was meant to be a punishment. And while he was bullied there at first, he soon learned to turn it around and get his own way. After school, his father propped him up as "the image" of Trump Management, never having him actually do any work. Other people always did the work, and Donald Trump took the credit when things went well and placed blame elsewhere when they didn't. Donald Trump, to put it plainly, has never worked a day in his life.

Not only has he been bailed out and propped up financially by his father, but also by banks. Because without the "Trump Brand" there'd be no money repaid at all. And that's all Trump has ever been: a brand.

He's all image. All ego. All surface.

If you read the book, you might at times feel a bit sad for Donald Trump, and you might find yourself feeling perturbed with his niece Mary for her occasional forays into tone-deaf privilege. It paints a picture of ridiculous, arrogant wealth. But it reads more as a defense of Mary, her father, and her side of the family than a portrait of "the world's most dangerous man."

The only two quotes in Too Much and Never Enough that stood out to me came in the last chapter, "A Civil Servant in Public Housing." 

Donald was to my grandfather what the border wall has been for Donald: a vanity project funded at the expense of more worthy pursuits. Fred didn't groom Donald to succeed him; when he was in his right mind, he wouldn't trust Trump Management to anybody. Instead, he used Donald, despite his failures and poor judgment, as the public face of his own thwarted ambition. Fred kept propping up Donald's false sense of accomplishment until the only asset Donald had was the ease with which he could be duped by more powerful men.

And...

In Donald's mind, he has accomplished everything on his own merits, cheating notwithstanding. How many interviews has he given in which he offers the obvious falsehood that his father loaned him a mere million dollars that he had to pay back but he was otherwise solely responsible for his success? It's easy to understand why he would believe this. Nobody has failed upwardly as consistently and spectacularly as the ostensible leader of the shrinking free world.

It's hard to imagine, just from reading Mary L. Trump's book, that a cold, ambitious father who couldn't tolerate weakness and a cold, mostly absent mother could create a monster like Donald Trump. It feels to any emotionally mature person that something worse, something awful, must have happened to Donald Trump at a very young age that ripped empathy from him. And he is who is he now, because his unloving, cruel parents never bothered to help him heal.

But I'm no psychologist. Maybe Donald Trump simply lived the perfect storm of unloving parents, leniency, and wealth and the empty, childish, never-consoled ego is what was wrought.

The fact that he managed to con stupid people so thoroughly, and piqued the interest of powerful people who believed they could gain from his ascendancy to the White House is what psychologists should study...and no doubt will.