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Posted by on Dec 6, 2018 in Media, Politics, Society | 0 comments

What I Got Wrong About Donald Trump – and About the American Electorate — Seven Years Ago

It should be quite easy to get things right in a short, 150-word letter.

Well, I didn’t. I had one thing wrong and another thing horribly wrong in a letter to the New York Times editor some seven years ago.

But first some background.

Back in April 2011, Gail Collins, a renowned author and columnist at the New York Times, wrote what some may call a scathing op-ed on the then-so-bizarro Donald Trump presidential campaign, but one that was in fact quite an accurate portrait of the overrated, over-inflated presidential wannabe.

In her op-ed, Collins calls out Trump’s shameful “birther” allegations about president Barack Obama and takes down a notch or two the man she once, in an earlier column, called a “financially embattled thousandaire.” (In response to the earlier column, Trump — true to form – sent Collins a copy of the “thousandaire” column with her photo circled and “The Face of a Dog!” written over it.)

In her April 2011 op-ed, Collins scrutinizes Trump’s presidential ambitions:

Trump’s main argument for why he should be taken seriously as a presidential contender is his business success. Has Obama ever hosted a long-running reality series? Owned a bankruptcy-bound chain of casinos? Put his name on a flock of really unattractive high-rise apartment buildings? No!

As to “Celebrity Apprentice” — “widely regarded as terrible and cheesy programming…” — Collins points out, “The series is a perfect reflection of Trump himself: an orgy of product-placement and personal aggrandizement. “

A week later, once again true to form, Trump punches back with his own lengthy, rambling and fallacious letter to the Times editor.

In his typical Trumpian style, Trump insults Collins’ “story telling ability,” brags about his own “many best sellers” authorship and – most shamefully — doubles down on his birtherism claims.

In what some today would call projection and “self-prediction,” Trump concludes:

Open your eyes, Gail, there’s at least a good chance that Barack Hussein Obama has made mincemeat out of our great and cherished Constitution!

In my own letter to the Times, reacting to Trump’s response to Gail Collins, I wrote:

I was appalled that The Times would ignore so many of its own rules on letter length, decorum and, perhaps most important, the one about letter writers being “entitled to their own opinions, but not to their own facts.”

“But on second thought,” I continued, “I believe that America owes The Times a big debt. Because of the publication of this would-be president’s tirade, America can now clearly see this man’s petty, thin-skinned and self-aggrandizing nature.”

Well, a sufficient number of Americans would not see it that way a few years later.

I concluded, “Mr. Trump’s irascible embrace of the widely discredited and condemned ‘birther’ movement so early in the presidential campaign has become his own sword of Damocles — one that will eventually shatter his presidential ambitions.”

Well, while a month later Trump withdrew his candidacy, his presidential ambitions were not “shattered.” Trump would do his slick Lorelei spiel again and a sufficient number of Americans would forgive and forget all, a mere five years hence.

And here we are…

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