Donald Trump has always been a rich man. Indeed, despite his carefully cultivated image as a financial impresario, "The Donald" (file that under "How to tell if you're an asshole: Referring to self in third person") earned his money the old fashioned way. That is, he inherited it. And somehow the fact that he or his enterprises have declared bankruptcy on three separate occasions has not prevented this country from viewing him as a titan of industry, a brilliant financier who can fix America with the same brilliance that made him a billionaire.
People see Trump this way not because he is a modern J.P. Morgan but because many years ago he became a living, three dimensional version of a cartoon rich guy. He is the closest real-life equivalent to Scrooge McDuck, combining the soullessness of an American plutocrat, the ego of a WWE character, and the class and aesthetic tastes of a Saudi prince. Trump is Tony Montana in Scarface, the man who surrounds himself with the gaudiest, tackiest trappings of wealth he can find and then wonders why no one respects him. As comedy genius John Mulaney notes, Trump is less rich guy than a 1930s hobo's idea of what it would be like to be rich:
|John Mulaney – Donald Trump|
But so what? There are thousands of rich guys with inflated opinions of themselves. And why now? These are not new developments; Trump has always been a sad, vain excuse for a human being. He has a long track record of assholery, such as his "Lynch the bastards" attitude toward crime and punishment and his well-documented misdeeds as a landlord and developer. But 2011 was the year in which his pathological need for attention suffocated whatever bits of restraint or good sense were rattling around in his oversized, oblong skull. Thus he made several months of our lives nearly unbearable this past year with his ludicrous, insincere foray into presidential politics for no reason but to get the media and public to pay more attention to him. No, not in the context of a campaign. Just in general. He did all of this to make himself feel important.
Many observers were surprised when Trump threw his hat into the ring of Republican presidential hopefuls. Nothing about Trump's politics had been particularly right wing in the past. In fact, he had to change his position (compared to just a few years ago) on nearly every current political issue in order to pitch himself to the GOP faithful. It struck remarkably few talking heads (or viewers) as odd that a fiftysomething man would have such an all encompassing change of heart, and it soon became apparent that his plan to avoid questions about flip-flopping focused on spewing forth as much lowbrow, pseudo-populist insanity as possible.
While never previously one to support fringe conspiracy theories, Trump discovered that spouting Birtherism garnered him significant attention – much of it negative, but he ain't picky. So he quickly reinvented himself as Mr. Tea Party, the ultimate Obama Skeptic and champion of all things nutty in the realm of foreign or economic policy. His stream-of-consciousness dialogue was so bizarre that even most right wingers wondered about his sanity, as when Charles Krauthammer described Trump's idea to invade Middle Eastern nations to take their oil as "the stuff you expect from a guy in a bar at closing time with slurred speech." He became buddy-buddy with leading conservative nutbars like Michele Bachmann and Sarah Palin. And the media ate it all up.
Already enamored with Trump the Celebrity because of his popular reality TV series, the Trump presidential talk dominated the news cycle for months. Each day he sent the media into another frenzy with his latest, craziest sound bites. He polled well for a while, suggesting that some portion of the public might seriously consider the idea of voting for him. Then, as abruptly as his potential candidacy erupted in our public consciousness, he declared that he would not run after all. Some of us speculated that Obama had embarrassed Trump out of contention by providing his full birth certificate, which was no doubt humiliating to the newly minted Birther. The truth was even more shameful, though: the whole idea of a presidential candidacy was fake. It was a cheap publicity stunt for his stupid TV show and for his own ego gratification. His announcement of his initial intentions and later his withdrawal from consideration coincided remarkably well with the beginning and end of the spring season of The Apprentice, a show wherein the bloated asshole fake fires washed-up celebrities for, um, "entertainment", if you can call it that. Here's a fun by-the-numbers breakdown of exactly what TrumpMania subjected us to for those months, which might otherwise have been more bearable.
Oh, and of course he's still trying to be relevant in the GOP field and we can expect him to get more vocal about the idea of an independent candidacy when a new season of The Apprentice needs the hype. Trump took an already circus-like election atmosphere and somehow made it worse. We expect the worst candidates (Bachmann, Alan Keyes, etc.) to do this, but we also expect that they're doing it because they want to win the presidency. For Trump, it was nothing but a long promotional tour for the Trump brand, which amounts to little more than his face – with its ridiculous hair, beady snake eyes, and mouth like a puckered asshole – basking in the glow of cameras and microphones.
So kudos to you, Donald Trump. You are an asshole nonpareil. In a year stuffed from stem to stern with cocksuckers, you unhinged your jaw like a snake and managed to outdo them all.