Tuesday, July 19, 2016

The Art of the Grifter

Via Andrew Tobias comes this link to a 2016 New Yorker article about Tony Schwartz, the ghostwriter of Donald Trump's The Art of the Deal. In Trump's campaign announcement speech, the one after his famous ride down the escalator in Trump Tower, he said, “We need a leader that wrote ‘The Art of the Deal.’ ”

Excerpt from The Art of the Deal

"If that was so, Schwartz thought, then he, not Trump, should be running."

Howard Kaminsky, the head Random House when the company published the book, confirmed, "Trump didn't write a post card for us."

Yet Trump insisted in a recent phone call, "I wrote the book. I wrote the book. It was my book. And it was a No. 1 best-seller, and one of the best-selling business books of all time. Some say it was the best-selling business book ever.”

And I think he believes all that.

This may shed a little light on Melania Trump's speech at the Republican Convention last night.

A longer extract from the Esquire article:
... Schwartz believes that Trump’s short attention span has left him with “a stunning level of superficial knowledge and plain ignorance.” He said, “That’s why he so prefers TV as his first news source—information comes in easily digestible sound bites.” He added, “I seriously doubt that Trump has ever read a book straight through in his adult life.” During the eighteen months that he observed Trump, Schwartz said, he never saw a book on Trump’s desk, or elsewhere in his office, or in his apartment.
Other journalists have noticed Trump’s apparent lack of interest in reading. In May, Megyn Kelly, of Fox News, asked him to name his favorite book, other than the Bible or “The Art of the Deal.” Trump picked the 1929 novel “All Quiet on the Western Front.” Evidently suspecting that many years had elapsed since he’d read it, Kelly asked Trump to talk about the most recent book he’d read. “I read passages, I read areas, I’ll read chapters—I don’t have the time,” Trump said. As The New Republic noted recently, this attitude is not shared by most U.S. Presidents, including Barack Obama, a habitual consumer of current books, and George W. Bush, who reportedly engaged in a fiercely competitive book-reading contest with his political adviser Karl Rove.
Trump’s first wife, Ivana, famously claimed that Trump kept a copy of Adolf Hitler’s collected speeches, “My New Order,” in a cabinet beside his bed. In 1990, Trump’s friend Marty Davis, who was then an executive at Paramount, added credence to this story, telling Marie Brenner, of Vanity Fair, that he had given Trump the book. “I thought he would find it interesting,” Davis told her. When Brenner asked Trump about it, however, he mistakenly identified the volume as a different work by Hitler: “Mein Kampf.” Apparently, he had not so much as read the title. “If I had these speeches, and I am not saying that I do, I would never read them,” Trump told Brenner.
The article is by Jane Mayer, author of the excellent book, Dark Money,  the best recounting I have seen of how a couple of dozen billionaires have corrupted American politics.

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