To paraphrase Bob Dylan, even Donald Trump must stand naked, and like everyone else sometimes he winces at what he sees. Consider Trump stepping out of the shower–forced to confront all that sun-lamped, over-fed, over-cologned flesh, and those hate-lines around his pout-shaped mouth, and, of course, that wildly asymmetric mass of orange-Kool-Aid-colored hair, still wet from the shower–on one side of his head, it hangs down past his shoulder in a huge ragged curtain; on the other side of his head, there is nothing but bald scalp and sadness. He begins every day by engineering that combover, the equivalent of The Great Wall of China. Then he Spanxes up, re-colognes himself, puts on a red Trump necktie, and goes out into the world to proclaim his own greatness.
You don’t have to be a psychotherapist to see that Donald Trump’s loathing for others is just an offshoot of his loathing for himself. Do you know any confident people in their 60s who need to compulsively remind you that they attended a good college–and got As? Do you know any truly-loved people who keep insisting, twenty times a day, that everyone loves them? Trump’s dirty secret is that he’s just smart enough to know that he’s a fraud, and not smart enough to forget it. He knows in his bones that if he wasn’t rich, not only would Hillary Clinton skip his wedding, but there would be no wedding to skip–at least not to another attractive young blonde. And this awareness is what fueled the single most important moment in the history of televised political debates.
As CounterPunch’s MIke Whitney wisely pointed out, Trump did America an enormous favor in that ten-second stretch of epic truth-telling at the Fox debate–when he breezily admitted that Hillary Clinton “had” to attend his wedding, not because she cares about him, but because he buys, sells, and trades the HIllary Clintons of the world like a twelve-year-old playing Fantasy Football. In a sane America, Trump’s forbidden truth would have upended the whole political dialogue–but CNN and MSNBC studiously ignored it and spent five whole days chasing updates on the Megan Kelly “bleeding” remark instead.
If Trump had real guts and vision–and if he was serious about winning–he would make that Forbidden Truth the core of his campaign, and keep expanding it: “Everyone’s angry that America is run by the 1%–well, I’m not just the 1%, I’m the 1% of the 1%, and I’m the only one who not only knows the tricks of the trade, but who’ll let you in on all our dirty little secrets, and change all the rules…The Tea Party and the leftists are both right: the whole game is rigged, and we’re going to blow it up and start fresh.”
But he blew the moment, because he didn’t realize what a profound insight he’d given the American people. Instead, in one hilarious tweet that went beyond speaking-of-one’s-self-in-the-third-person, he said that “Roger Ailes promises that ‘Trump’ will be treated fairly.” I mean–putting your own name in quotation marks? As the young people say–what’s that about?
Years ago, while researching a story, I found myself in a restaurant with four titans of New York City real estate as they swapped old war-stories about Fred Trump, Donald’s father. To these moguls, Trump’s dad was a visionary who created wealth from an unlikely source–housing for the lower-middle-class–“but the son is a loser,” said one of them, to communal laughter. “It’s one thing if you don’t know how to generate money,” said another, “but this shmuck doesn’t even know how to inherit money.”
Maybe Trump is a smarter businessman than they gave him credit for, but I’m sure he grew up keenly aware that his peers were laughing at him, and decades of bitterness has created a true psychopath. If he was just a tiny bit less insane–let’s say 1% less insane–he would build on his Forbidden Truth and do America a major service. But my bet is that he will completely torpedo his own campaign soon–not by insulting John McCain or Megyn Kelly, because these are bush-leage turf-wars that only the Washington dullard-media cares about–but by some self-humiliating act that will finally reveal the naked man beneath the combover. He will lose because he wants to lose.
And–as he’ll be the first to tell you–he’s a man who gets what he wants.