Last night, Rudolph Giuliani described a modest, altruistic, publicity-shunning Trump. Uh huh. Right. Let’s compare the reality, described in the New Yorker, by Trump’s ghost writer for “The Art of the Deal.”
No, Virginia, he never wrote anything himself.
â€œI put lipstick on a pig,â€ he said. â€œI 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.â€ He went on, â€œI genuinely believe that if Trump wins and gets the nuclear codes there is an excellent possibility it will lead to the end of civilization.â€
If he were writing â€œThe Art of the Dealâ€ today, Schwartz said, it would be a very different book with a very different title. Asked what he would call it, he answered, â€œThe Sociopath.â€ …
Schwartz thought that â€œThe Art of the Dealâ€ would be an easy project. The bookâ€™s structure would be simple: heâ€™d chronicle half a dozen or so of Trumpâ€™s biggest real-estate deals, dispense some bromides about how to succeed in business, and fill in Trumpâ€™s life story. For research, he planned to interview Trump on a series of Saturday mornings. The first session didnâ€™t go as planned, however. After Trump gave him a tour of his marble-and-gilt apartment atop Trump Towerâ€”which, to Schwartz, looked unlived-in, like the lobby of a hotelâ€”they began to talk. But the discussion was soon hobbled by what Schwartz regards as one of Trumpâ€™s most essential characteristics: â€œHe has no attention span.â€
In those days, Schwartz recalls, Trump was generally affable with reporters, offering short, amusingly immodest quotes on demand. Trump had been forthcoming with him during the New York interview, but it hadnâ€™t required much time or deep reflection. For the book, though, Trump needed to provide him with sustained, thoughtful recollections. He asked Trump to describe his childhood in detail. After sitting for only a few minutes in his suit and tie, Trump became impatient and irritable. He looked fidgety, Schwartz recalls, â€œlike a kindergartner who canâ€™t sit still in a classroom.â€ Even when Schwartz pressed him, Trump seemed to remember almost nothing of his youth, and made it clear that he was bored. Far more quickly than Schwartz had expected, Trump ended the meeting.
Week after week, the pattern repeated itself. Schwartz tried to limit the sessions to smaller increments of time, but Trumpâ€™s contributions remained oddly truncated and superficial.
â€œTrump has been written about a thousand ways from Sunday, but this fundamental aspect of who he is doesnâ€™t seem to be fully understood,â€ Schwartz told me. â€œItâ€™s implicit in a lot of what people write, but itâ€™s never explicitâ€”or, at least, I havenâ€™t seen it. And that is that itâ€™s impossible to keep him focussed on any topic, other than his own self-aggrandizement, for more than a few minutes, and even then . . . â€ Schwartz trailed off, shaking his head in amazement. He regards Trumpâ€™s inability to concentrate as alarming in a Presidential candidate. â€œIf he had to be briefed on a crisis in the Situation Room, itâ€™s impossible to imagine him paying attention over a long period of time,â€ he said. …
But Schwartz believes that Trumpâ€™s short attention span has left him with â€œa stunning level of superficial knowledge and plain ignorance.â€ He said, â€œThatâ€™s why he so prefers TV as his first news sourceâ€”information comes in easily digestible sound bites.â€ He added, â€œI seriously doubt that Trump has ever read a book straight through in his adult life.â€ During the eighteen months that he observed Trump, Schwartz said, he never saw a book on Trumpâ€™s desk, or elsewhere in his office, or in his apartment.
Other journalists have noticed Trumpâ€™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 â€œThe Art of the Deal.â€ Trump picked the 1929 novel â€œAll Quiet on the Western Front.â€ Evidently suspecting that many years had elapsed since heâ€™d read it, Kelly asked Trump to talk about the most recent book heâ€™d read. â€œI read passages, I read areas, Iâ€™ll read chaptersâ€”I donâ€™t have the time,â€ Trump said. …
Schwartz has heard some argue that there must be a more thoughtful and nuanced version of Donald Trump that he is keeping in reserve for after the campaign. â€œThere isnâ€™t,â€ Schwartz insists. â€œThere is no private Trump.â€ …
Schwartz describes the process of trying to make Trumpâ€™s voice palatable in the book. It was kind of â€œa trick,â€ he writes, to mimic Trumpâ€™s blunt, staccato, no-apologies delivery while making him seem almost boyishly appealing. One strategy was to make it appear that Trump was just having fun at the office. â€œI try not to take any of whatâ€™s happened too seriously,â€ Trump says in the book. â€œThe real excitement is playing the game.â€
In his journal, Schwartz wrote, â€œTrump stands for many of the things I abhor: his willingness to run over people, the gaudy, tacky, gigantic obsessions, the absolute lack of interest in anything beyond power and money.â€ Looking back at the text now, Schwartz says, â€œI created a character far more winning than Trump actually is.â€ The first line of the book is an example. â€œI donâ€™t do it for the money,â€ Trump declares. â€œIâ€™ve got enough, much more than Iâ€™ll ever need. I do it to do it. Deals are my art form. Other people paint beautifully on canvas or write wonderful poetry. I like making deals, preferably big deals. Thatâ€™s how I get my kicks.â€ Schwartz now laughs at this depiction of Trump as a devoted artisan. â€œOf course heâ€™s in it for the money,â€ he said. â€œOne of the most deep and basic needs he has is to prove that â€˜Iâ€™m richer than you.â€™ â€ As for the idea that making deals is a form of poetry, Schwartz says, â€œHe was incapable of saying something like thatâ€”it wouldnâ€™t even be in his vocabulary.â€ He saw Trump as driven not by a pure love of dealmaking but by an insatiable hunger for â€œmoney, praise, and celebrity.â€ Often, after spending the day with Trump, and watching him pile one hugely expensive project atop the next, like a circus performer spinning plates, Schwartz would go home and tell his wife, â€œHeâ€™s a living black hole!â€
Schwartz reminded himself that he was being paid to tell Trumpâ€™s story, not his own, but the more he worked on the project the more disturbing he found it. In his journal, he describes the hours he spent with Trump as â€œdrainingâ€ and â€œdeadening.â€ Schwartz told me that Trumpâ€™s need for attention is â€œcompletely compulsive,â€ and that his bid for the Presidency is part of a continuum. â€œHeâ€™s managed to keep increasing the dose for forty years,â€ Schwartz said. After heâ€™d spent decades as a tabloid titan, â€œthe only thing left was running for President. If he could run for emperor of the world, he would.â€
Read the whole thing.