The Kindergartner in Chief
“I genuinely believe that if Trump wins and gets the nuclear codes there is an excellent possibility it will lead to the end of civilization.”
The following quotes are from Jane Mayer's article, “Donald Trump's Ghostwriter Tells All,” about Tony Schwartz's experience writing Trump's 1987 bestseller, “The Art of the Deal.” WARNING: May scare small children and other living things.
- “I feel a deep sense of remorse that I contributed to presenting Trump in a way that brought him wider attention and made him more appealing than he is,” Schwartz said. “I genuinely believe that if Trump wins and gets the nuclear codes there is an excellent possibility it will lead to the end of civilization.”
- If he were writing “The Art of the Deal” today, Schwartz said, it would be a very different book with a very different title. Asked what he would call it, he answered, “The Sociopath.”
- “Trump didn't fit any model of human being I'd ever met. He was obsessed with publicity, and he didn't care what you wrote.” He went on, “Trump only takes two positions. Either you're a scummy loser, liar, whatever, or you're the greatest.”
- The discussion was soon hobbled by what Schwartz regards as one of Trump's most essential characteristics: “He has no attention span.”
- After sitting for only a few minutes in his suit and tie, Trump became impatient and irritable. He looked fidgety, Schwartz recalls, “like a kindergartner who can't sit still in a classroom.”
- “This fundamental aspect of who he is doesn't seem to be fully understood,” Schwartz told me. “It's implicit in a lot of what people write, but it's never explicit—or, at least, I haven't seen it. And that is that it's impossible to keep him focused on any topic, other than his own self-aggrandizement, for more than a few minutes . . . ”
- “If he had to be briefed on a crisis in the Situation Room, it's impossible to imagine him paying attention over a long period of time.”
- Schwartz believes that Trump's short attention span has left him with “a stunning level of superficial knowledge and plain ignorance.”
- “I seriously doubt that Trump has ever read a book straight through in his adult life.”
- “Lying is second nature to him,” Schwartz said. “More than anyone else I have ever met, Trump has the ability to convince himself that whatever he is saying at any given moment is true, or sort of true, or at least ought to be true.”
- [He asked Trump] about a story making the rounds—that Trump often called up news outlets using a pseudonym. Trump didn't deny it. As Schwartz recalls, he smirked and said, “You like that, do you?”
- “He lied strategically. He had a complete lack of conscience about it.” Since most people are “constrained by the truth,” Trump's indifference to it “gave him a strange advantage.”
- When challenged about the facts, Schwartz says, Trump would often double down, repeat himself, and grow belligerent.
- Whenever “the thin veneer of Trump's vanity is challenged,” Schwartz says, he overreacts—not an ideal quality in a head of state.
- “One of the most deep and basic needs he has is to prove that 'I'm richer than you.'”
- In 1992, the journalist David Cay Johnston published a book about casinos, “Temples of Chance,” and cited a net-worth statement from 1990 that assessed Trump's personal wealth. It showed that Trump owed nearly three hundred million dollars more to his creditors than his assets were worth. The next year, his company was forced into bankruptcy—the first of six such instances.
- “He didn't write the book,” Trump told me. “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.” (It is not.) Howard Kaminsky, the former Random House head, laughed and said, “Trump didn't write a postcard for us!”
- Minutes after Trump got off the phone with me, Schwartz's cell phone rang. “I hear you're not voting for me,” Trump said. “I just talked to The New Yorker—which, by the way, is a failing magazine that no one reads—and I heard you were critical of me. ... You should have just remained silent. I just want to tell you that I think you're very disloyal.”
- As for Trump's anger toward him, he said, “I don't take it personally, because the truth is he didn't mean it personally. People are dispensable and disposable in Trump's world.” If Trump is elected President, he warned, “the millions of people who voted for him and believe that he represents their interests will learn what anyone who deals closely with him already knows—that he couldn't care less about them.”
In the past I've called Trump a third grader, but that's an insult to third graders. He's a rich snot, a bully and a liar, with no attention span, who has a meltdown whenever called on to concentrate or tell the truth. As liars go, he makes Nixon look like a piker. He seems like the worst person in the history of our country to get this close to the presidency.