This should be Required reading for ALL Americans who vote….
From the NY Times…..
Trump was schooled by media-obsessed bullies and assorted wiseguys like Roy Cohn, Rudy Giuliani, George Steinbrenner, various Cuomos and the irrepressible mayor Ed Koch. Cohn taught this lesson: “I bring out the worst in my enemies. That’s how I get them to defeat themselves.” Other lessons were learned the hard way: When Trump tried to threaten Richard Ravitch of New York’s Urban Development Corporation, telling him, “If you don’t give me the tax abatement, I’m gonna have you fired,” Ravitch ordered him to get “out of here before I count to three or I’m going to have you arrested.” And it’s not hard to discern Ed Koch’s influence on the future president’s later Twitter style: When Trump asked for another tax break, Koch replied, “Piggy, piggy, piggy.” Haberman notes, deftly, the similarities between Trump and the Rev. Al Sharpton, which went well beyond tonsorial excess. Indeed, Sharpton expressed admiration for Trump’s manner: “If Trump had been born Black, he would have been [the boxing promoter] Don King. … Because both of them — everything was transactional.” Trump learned from Sharpton, who backed the Black teenager Tawana Brawley even when evidence mounted that her story of a racist attack was a fabrication.
In a more profound sense, Trump was a creature of his times. He traversed the commercial arc of the past 40 years — moving from (failed) business mogul to celebrity to “brand,” just as American free enterprise moved from the production of steel, to casino games on Wall Street, to celebrity “influencers” on reality TV. He wasn’t a very good businessman, but he played one on “The Apprentice,” which was how most Americans met him. An Iowa man explained his reason for supporting Trump: “I watched him run his business.” In fact, there is a perverse truth to that. Trump found his true calling when he started selling his name to foreigners who wanted to put it on buildings. He peddled products like Trump wine and Trump Steaks, and scams like Trump University, to a gullible public seeking gilt by association. “His personal brand mattered more than what was on his balance sheet,” Haberman writes. It sure beat working….
The fantasy of decisiveness — his big line was “You’re fired!” — added to his political appeal, but that was phony, too. Haberman reports numerous occasions when Trump lacked the stomach to sack staffers face to face. At one point, he tried to lure Vice President Mike Pence’s top aide, Nick Ayers, to become his own chief of staff — but only if Ayers agreed to tell the incumbent, Gen. John Kelly, that Trump wanted him gone. Ayers refused to play. So Trump resorted to an old New York modus, backstabbing and rumor-mongering and humiliation, to get Kelly to resign. Trump “enjoyed the chaos of [his staff] fighting with one another,” Haberman writes.
There were two other significant New York lessons. One was that the press — especially the tabloids and TV news, and, later, social media — could be overwhelmed by brazen performance art. Trump managed to gin his divorce from his first wife, Ivana, into a war between competing gossip columnists, Liz Smith and Cindy Adams. He played the tabloids like a pipe organ: The divorce was on the front page of The Daily News for 12 straight days, “a car wreck where the victims repeatedly tried to hurt themselves more instead of accepting medical help,” Haberman writes. Trump eventually came to understand that he could use his own raw, outer-borough resentments to feed the public’s latent anger against the politically correct snootiness of the establishment media. When he cried, “Fake news,” they believed him. During the 2016 presidential campaign, I continually interviewed people who loved Trump because “he sounds like us.” And somehow, in a miracle of salesmanship, the way Trump’s supporters saw him became identical with the way he hoped to be seen.
He was amazed by this. He could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and they’d still support him, he said. But the relationship was symbiotic and subtle. One of the many services Haberman performs in “Confidence Man” is to set out the process by which Trump came to his outrageous positions — like the ugly notion that Barack Obama wasn’t born here, and the insinuation that most immigrants coming across the southern border were violent criminals. He didn’t just blurt out these thoughts; he was nudged into them by the reactions of his most extreme supporters. Even his desire to build a wall at the Mexican border came gradually: Only when he began to see it as a crowd-pleasing construction project — like his triumphant restoration of New York’s Wollman Rink — did the idea achieve pride of place in his campaign pitch. It becomes clear, as Haberman builds her case, that Trump wasn’t just a grotesque, a lucky nincompoop, but a genius — though not a particularly “stable” one — when it came to reading the terrain of the digital-age media.
The final New York lesson was, perhaps, the most significant: He learned how to stay one step ahead of the sheriff. This was, and remains, his greatest skill….
Haberman deserves a Pulitzer prize for her book hands down….
Politico magazine does a piece on Maggie Haberman….
Confidence Man: The Making of Donald Trump and the Breaking of America, which comes out Tuesday, is an origin story plus an inside-the-room blow-by-blow — a book arguably only Haberman could have written. It’s all but guaranteed to be a best-seller. On Amazon it already is. It’s been called the book Trump fears the most — he’s “terrified,” said one former aide — and that’s because Haberman is the reporter who knows him the best. Here, though, at what most would consider the apex of her or maybe almost any career, Haberman fretted over a relative blip of a workaday hitch — a window into her broader current mood, some amalgam of obligation and addiction, of resignation and regret, a sense of pride but also the mounting toll that she feels due to the work that she does….