I just bought a condo and am in the process of downsizing. One of the hardest things I’ve had to sort through is an extensive collection of old magazine issues and newspaper editions that I saved because I thought they had historical significance. The Philadelphia Inquirer newspaper editions for about a week following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy; Life Magazine’s edition on the Challenger shuttle disaster; an edition of Vogue devoted to Princess Diana after her death, just to name a few.
Then I came across this.
The March 2000 edition of George magazine, the short-lived political commentary publication that was the brainchild of the late John F. Kennedy, Jr. (In case you don’t recall, JFK, Jr. died, along with his newlywed wife Carolyn Bessette, in an airplane crash on July 16, 1999). Just eight months later, the magazine he founded published an interview by Christopher Byron with Donald Trump.
It was the March cover story.
I read the interview as I sat down to eat my dinner tonight. I cannot imagine how the Cruz or Rubio camps have not seized upon this article and brought it front and center during this Republican Primary season’s battle. It is a scathing portrait of an opportunistic, ego-maniacal, greedy and ruthless man who was, 16 years ago, as determined to use the Office of the President of The United States for his personal gain as he is today. Trump has, on two prior occasions, flirted with running for President: 1987 and 2000. The article quotes him as saying that doing so enables him to “raise his rents” and allow him to be “the only guy who makes money when he runs.”
The article chronicles his financial failures, his shell corporations to hide debt, his robbing Peter to pay Paul, and his shameless self-aggrandizement based, not on fact, but on his lust for fame and recognition. His famous property Mar-a-Lago, in Palm Beach, Florida where the interview took place, has a huge “library with no books in it” but instead a huge portrait of Donald in tennis clothes…blonde hair a-flying. His office wall, floor to ceiling, is covered with photos of only himself.
I think the one paragraph that most impacted me is where Byron states:
“It is perhaps the measure of the American temperament that few people seem to regard his obsession with money as diminishing his qualifications for the job [the Presidency] in any way. It is as if wealth and leadership in America have become flip sides of the same coin, so that the ostentatious display of the former is now seen as a way to demonstrate competence in the latter.”
Either Byron was prescient… or we’ve been lost at least as far back as 2000.
I understand the lure. We’re fed up with career politicians and corrupt government. We’re angry and frustrated. But does that necessarily translate into us also being dumb and blind?
Donald Trump will tell you that he knows who the bad guys are, who the good guys are, feels your pain, and knows who to blame. It’s a soothing mantra after what we’ve been through. Soothing and seductive. But, make no mistake. You are being seduced. Seduced, manipulated, and led to the slaughter of the document that created this great nation, all for the feeding of one man’s insatiable hunger for money, fame, recognition…and lest we dare forget…winning at all cost.