Thursday, November 17, 2016

A few words (not my own) about the next President of the United States

In the 1990s, the New Yorker, as it had in its early years, tended towards a certain ironic disposition, a lightness of tone that suited those times. After all, there was a Clinton in the White House, the budget was in balance or better, the Cold War, everyone assumed, had been consigned to history. These were the Tina Brown years. Thus, in 1997 the magazine ran what might have been the archetypal 1990s New Yorker article: a profile of one Donald Trump, by Mark Singer, a fine exponent of the slightly raised-eyebrow school of journalism.

It contains the following paragraph.

Of course, the “comeback” Trump is much the same as the Trump of the eighties; there is no “new” Trump, just as there was never a “new” Nixon. Rather, all along there have been several Trumps: the hyperbole addict who prevaricates for fun and profit; the knowledgeable builder whose associates profess awe at his attention to detail; the narcissist whose self-absorption doesn’t account for his dead-on ability to exploit other people’s weaknesses; the perpetual seventeen-year-old who lives in a zero-sum world of winners and “total losers,” loyal friends and “complete scumbags”; the insatiable publicity hound who courts the press on a daily basis and, when he doesn’t like what he reads, attacks the messengers as “human garbage”; the chairman and largest stockholder of a billion-dollar public corporation who seems unable to resist heralding overly optimistic earnings projections, which then fail to materialize, thereby eroding the value of his investment—in sum, a fellow both slippery and naïve, artfully calculating and recklessly heedless of consequences.
It may have been written 20 years ago, but it very clearly reflects the man who has been the centre of attention over the course of this past year. Perhaps you might spend a few minutes reflecting on the last four words, given the position this man has now been elected to.