Peter Conrad — The Guardian Book Review 21 July 2020
Abridged by Lasha Darkmoon, with an extended endnote ‘On the death of democracy’.
This blistering memoir by the president’s niece reveals the twisted dynamic of America’s ‘malignantly dysfunctional’ first family. [The book sold 950,000 copies on the first day, setting a record for the publisher. – LD]
Like America, Trump claims to be unique, exceptional, a shining self-creation. This book by his estranged niece demolishes that myth. Mary Trump’s ruthless memoir blames their family for creating him: she sees it as her patriotic mission to “take Donald down”, and she does so by showing how derivative and dependent the ultimate self-made man has always been.
Trump was bankrolled at first by an indulgent father, who paid him to be an idle show-off and proudly collected grubby tabloid reports on his antics; nowadays he is propped up by tougher, cannier men such as Vladimir Putin and Senator Mitch McConnell, for whom he is an easily manipulated stooge.
Sleaze and graft, we here discover, are Trump’s genetic heritage.
His grandfather slunk out of Germany to avoid military service and made a fortune from brothels in Canada.
His father was a landlord who passed himself off as a property developer to rake in government subsidies for properties that were never built.
(Here is a photo of Donald Trump in 1975, age 29, with his father in Brooklyn.)
Donald’s mother, born to penury in Scotland, remained so meanly thrifty that every week she dressed up in her fur stole and drove her pink Cadillac around the New York suburbs to collect small change from the coin-operated laundry rooms in buildings the family owned; her piggy banks were empty tin cans that once contained lard. She remained emotionally absent, preoccupied by her ailments, while her husband viewed their male offspring as mere off-prints of himself, begotten to ensure that the family kept a grip on its spoils.
Raised in such an environment, how could Donald Trump not emerge as “a petty, pathetic little man”? Never having received affection, he bestows it on himself in orgies of preening and boasting; the life partners he serially selects seem to have been chosen from a mail-order catalogue.
His first wife, Ivana, is summed up by Mary as “all flash, arrogance and spite”, with a telling “penchant for regifting”. Ivana’s ritualised gift-giving is portrayed as an exercise in contempt: one Christmas she presents Mary’s mother with a luxurious handbag containing a used Kleenex. (Ivana pictured)
Melania is a trophy, destined to occupy a glazed niche in a display case. Presiding over a Father’s Day meal at Trump Tower, Melania utters just one word all evening. That word, expressing at best a theoretical curiosity about the world, is: “Really?” (Melania pictured in 1996, when she was doing nude photoshoots for Max Magazine, a French mag for sex-starved men.)
Throughout the book, Mary’s uncle is not President Trump but simply Donald. With casual disrespect, she even deprives him of the definite article deployed by Ivana who always referred to him as “the Donald”. Mary’s professional credentials as a psychologist [she has a Ph.D] entitle her to briskly check off what she calls Donald’s “pathologies”, which include narcissism, sociopathy and learning disabilities that may be due to the dozen Diet Cokes he daily siphons into himself. In a startling final condemnation, she charges that his “craven need for ‘revenge’” on opponents makes him, in his nonchalance about coronavirus in New York, responsible for what she calls “mass murder”.
Erotomania can be added to the list of his vices.
Once at the Mar-a-Lago pool, Donald disgusted Mary by sizing up her breasts: “Holy shit,” he remarked, “you’re stacked.” This wicked uncle is all slavering id, with no superego to restrain the fingers that itch to tweet, to toy with a big red nuclear button, or to “grab ’em by the pussy”.
UNCLE DONALD ADMIRES MARY’S BREASTS
“Holy shit, you’re stacked!”
Whenever Donald attempted to manage an actual business – an airline, casino or dodgy university – the result was bankruptcy.
The lies he compulsively tells are for Mary another “mode of self-aggrandisement”, a cover for his quaking inadequacy. Sadly dimwitted, he even had to hire a surrogate to take the entrance exams for college on his behalf.
All his life he has “failed upwards”; he relies on being “rewarded for bad behaviour”, which happened again when the Senate blocked his impeachment.
As viewed by Mary, he is an undeveloped human being, who instantly passed from whiny infancy to doddery old age, missing out the intermediate age of reason and responsibility where the rest of us spend time.
On the Death of Democracy
by Lasha Darkmoon
Americans will get the president they deserve in four months’ time, either Biden with his many faults or Trump with his numerous shortcomings. Bernard Shaw once observed: “Democracy is a device that insures we shall be governed no better than we deserve.” Maybe that’s why we have Trump, because Trump is what America deserves.
Why the “world’s greatest democracy” is unable to find any other candidates to choose from except these two charmers now on offer, the incorrigible Trump and the abominable Biden, is a conundrum none have been able to solve. In a country such as America, one no longer gets to vote for the “better” candidate. One is forced to choose the lesser of two evils.
Plato says it best for me. He has obviously given this matter much thought. And what he said over 350 years before Christ still makes a lot of sense today. “For a state in which the law is respected, democracy is the worst form of government, but if the law is not respected, it is the best.”
Plato believed that the best form of government was a benign aristocracy: “the Guardians”. In short, a dictatorship of enlightened oligarchs, a small group of wise old men who had no wish to feather their own nests or promote their own interests. Their sole concern was to rule with fairness and justice in the interests of the majority. Women and fools were expected to do what they were told and not meddle in state affairs. A wise decision, in my humble opinion, all things considered.
Never once in history, for reasons too complex to explain here, has it been possible to achieve this Platonic Utopia. The greatest happiness of the greatest number, the political aim of Benthamite utilitarianism, has proved to be unachievable. We live in a Darwinian dog-eat-dog world in which only the fittest survive. The deep state, by which we are ruled today, embodies this ruthless principle. The deep state is not interested in making life easy for the masses. It is concerned solely with successful predation.
Our rulers can be described as the People Farmers; and we, the people, are their livestock.
To get down to brass tacks: who will win the November elections, Trump or Bidden? Against all the odds, I predict a victory for Trump. The opinion polls give Biden a huge lead: 50 per cent to Trump’s 38 percent. This is meaningless. Because Trump, with the deep state behind him, will cheat. Remember that this is the man who conned his way into college by hiring someone else to sit his entrance exams for him.
Trump will sweep to victory, I believe, according to the principle propounded so cynically by Stalin: “Those who cast the votes decide nothing. Those who count the votes decide everything.”
The video below reveals to Americans what their president is really like. I make no apologies for uploading it. After all, these are Trump’s own words.
Trump is the best on offer, it seems. We need to be grateful we have Trump at the helm, however appalling he may appear to be at first glance. Just think how much worse it would have been if, instead of Trump, we had Stalin—or Nero, Caligula, Ivan the Terrible, or Genghiz Khan.
Americans will get Trump because he is what they deserve. That’s meant as a compliment, not as an insult. Trump is a product of the American Zeitgeist. He thinks like America, speaks like America, eats like America, struts like America, and in every way holds the mirror up to America. He is America personified.