This week Donald Trump is back in the news — his favorite place to be, with the possible exception of a (presumably) gold-plated tanning bed. It seems the real estate magnate-turned-reality TV clown-turned-just plain clown built a building in Chicago a few years ago and recently made good on his promise to emblazon his name in 20-foot letters on the side of it, as is his custom. Through a spokesman, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said the sign is “in very poor taste and scars what is otherwise an architecturally accomplished building,” setting off a local controversy.
Even though I don’t live in Chicago and don’t subscribe to any of the architectural journals (I just look them over in the waiting room when I go to see my architect), I was aware of this story before it hit the national media, because I belong to the select club of 2.6 million people that follows @realDonaldTrump on Twitter, one of the the greatest unintentionally funny feeds in the short history of the form.
Trump tweets about 150 times a day — note that nearly all the tweets below are from June 17, and I didn’t even use half of them. It’s amazing to me that someone who claims to be so busy with moving and shaking and importing and exporting and so forth has time to tweet so much. And it’s clear that he hasn’t hired a Social Media Strategist or just told one of his nieces to handle it — the tone is too authentically douchey to be anyone but, as the handle suggests, @realDonaldTrump.
Anyway, I heard about the sign because Trump has been retweeting people telling him how much they love it for what feels like the last eighteen years (actually five days — Trump tweets a lot is what I’m saying).
This is only the latest in a long line of petty grievances that Trump chooses to litigate on Twitter — his outrage at the condition of the Pinehurst Country Club during the US Open is another recent favorite. He hates Seth Myers and Michelle Malkin with equal venom. Meanspirited and bullying as these digressions are, they are a somewhat refreshing change from what Trump’s endless critiques of President Obama:
With our border not being secure, Obama is giving a pathway to terrorists to enter our country. An attack is on him. — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 17, 2014
As one of the last people to leave the Obama Birth Certificate clown car, it’s no surprise that Trump doesn’t approve of the Obama presidency, and it’s no surprise that he thinks he could do better. What’s surprising is so many other people also seem to think he could do better, judging by Trump’s daily blizzard of retweets of people telling him he should run for president:
Who are these people? Who is out there on this planet saying to themselves, “This country is in a real mess. What we need in the White House is strong leadership, focus, and dignity. And money. Also irrational confidence, ceaseless posturing, overweening vanity, and a bottomless well of bullshit. Someone whose personal aesthetic makes Saudi oil barons look restrained and whose impulse control is only slightly better than a collie. I would vote for that man in a heartbeat!”
I find it difficult to imagine such a voter really exists, and yet here they are, by the dozens (I repeat: all the above tweets are from a single day — and I only used a fraction of them) lining up on Twitter to publicly lick this jagoff’s boots. Because he has his name on all those awful gold-plated buildings? Because he’s been on TV since the ’80s passing himself off as the real-life J.R. Ewing?
I admit, for a couple of seasons I was a fan of The Celebrity Apprentice, the tarted-up version of the show that made Trump a player in the race to the bottom that is the reality TV game. The original version of The Apprentice was a sensation because it combined personality conflicts with real-world problem solving, and it worked for TV because it allowed enough shameless product placement to (I’m guessing) finance the entire production. It also gave us one of the greatest reality villains ever in Omarosa, who I’m guessing is one failed Game Show Network audition from returning Vivid Video’s call right about now. Trump himself was only a small part of the viewing experience on The Apprentice, appearing only to give the contestants their marching orders at the top, exiting while they clawed each other’s eyes out for the next 70 minutes, and recieving them in his “boardroom” to offer 15 minutes of merciless judging at the end — like Heidi Klum on Project Runway.
The Apprentice was a certified hit for its first few seasons, but when ratings started flagging Trump, like any smart businessman, adjusted by quickly cranking out more of the exact same product — except with the dazzling “celebrity” likes of Trace Adkins, Carol Alt, Gene Simmons, Gary Busey, a couple of athletes, a couple of grown child actors and pop stars, a couple of reality show refugees, and in a tidy bit of self-flattery on the part of franchise that had just added “Celebrity” to its name, Omarosa.
After that only one of the next 7 seasons featured civilians — the rest were just an excuse for Donald Trump to preen around his own gold-plated hotels in cashmere overcoats, revel in the fact that all these boldfaced names came when he called, and then send them to work a hot dog stand. It is a gruesomely self-serving enterprise for the benefit of Trump’s ego — he virtually glowed when the likes of Arsenio Hall and Joan Rivers panted “Mr. Trump” at him in the boardroom — but I have to admit I watched two seasons of it, because if you are someone who can stay away from a show that offers things like an enraged, spittley Meat Loaf physically confronting a dazed, indignant Gary Busey over a missing bag of art supplies, well let’s just say I envy and admire your strength.
As much as I enjoyed the two seasons I watched, I lost interest pretty sharply around the time Trump started in with all the Obama birther business. That stuff made me feel guilty about continuing to watch the show, but it wasn’t the reason I stopped. It was because as the “Celebrity” seasons wore on, the challenges completely shifted focus from Who Has Basic Business Skills to Who Knows More Rich People. The challenges became thinly veiled fundraising exercises (for the celebrities’ chosen charities, of course), where the show’s “Celebrities” were forced to grovel to their more famous friends — actual, no-quotes Celebrities — to donate huge sums to their charities in order to win each challenge. “Hey everybody! My close personal friend Shirley Jones is on the phone and she wants one of our meatball sandwiches for $10,000!” You didn’t win the game for being able to come up with business ideas, sell them to your teammates, assign roles and manage people to execute the idea, and then stand for judgment on the results — you won the game because you were best friends with Magic Johnson and his wallet. It changed from being a meritocracy to being a plutocracy.
Which illustrates why Trump running for president is such a hilariously hubristic overreach. This is a simple game show and he couldn’t keep its basic premise from being undermined by the twin menaces of the profit motive and his own vanity. How could he be expected to do any better with the entire U.S. government? And could anything possibly be more tone-deaf to this moment in history than to run for president with a C.V. headed by the catchphrase “You’re fired”?
Anyway, with his Twitter account Trump is clearly trying to revive interest in the idea that he’ll run for president in 2016 — not because he wants to run for president, but because he wants us to want him to run for president. I just want to use this space to say PLEASE YES DONALD RUN FOR PRESIDENT. PRETTY PLEASE WITH SUGAR ON TOP RUN FOR PRESIDENT. Nothing would be more entertaining or karmically just than to see your endless stream of hyperbolic self-praise empirically proved wrong by a popular vote, or say, a straw poll.
And when that happens, I will be glued to his Twitter feed.