Two friends of mine were lambasting me last night for appearing to become a fan of Donald Trump. I tried to defend myself by saying I’m not a fan of the man, but just fascinated by his political success. But they would have none of that.
“He’s racist. He’s sexist. That’s what you should be pointing out,” said one. As if that were news to anybody. What’s interesting to me is how in acting like a crass, prejudiced jerk he only gets more popular.
Truth is, I don’t know who Donald Trump is. He’s praised for speaking his mind, or from his heart, portrayed as being authentic like Bernie Sanders. I think only some of that is true and it is hard to sort it out because fundamentally Trump is a showman, so what we see is mostly what he wants us to see to keep the show fresh and entertaining.
Do you think he’s not consciously being unpredictable? That’s not authenticity, that’s an act.
Or some of it is and some isn’t, hard to know. But this morning I decided to see if I could find some insight as to the man as opposed to the showman and I hit a goldmine in an interview in the Daily Beast with a woman named Barbara Res, who seems likely to know Trump about as well as anyone.
Trump hired her as the top engineer in the construction of Trump Tower in the 80s and she still worked with him in the 90s when “he only escaped financial ruin because the banks decided to leave the super self-promoter with enough to maintain the illusion of an empire.”
Trump asked her to take on the Trump Tower job when she was only 31, a position that probably no other woman in the world had. And, though she had seen Trump be abusive to others who worked for him, he had always treated her with respect .
He “was the least sexist boss I ever had as far as trusting me and viewing me equally with all the men we encountered in our mutual dealings,” she reports. “He wanted me to be him on the job. He said I would be like a ‘Donna Trump.”
That’s the good part, though not surprisingly she won the respect by standing up to the many men she worked with. “He told me I was a killer,” she recalls. “That’s important to him. Apparently, he thought that was a compliment.”
While Trump values the killer instinct, Res reveals when it came to firing people, he had trouble doing it himself. “When somebody had to be fired, Donald laid the job off to an underling,” ironic given his “Your fired.” line being his tough guy trademark phrase in his show The Apprentice.
Res sheds light on a number of Trump traits, such as the anger shown is real, while the charm is a put on, and of course he seldom blames himself for any work that fails or falls short. And he has no shame. He showed that in the way he handled a scandal with a mistress and in his outrageous comments about anyone or group he feels anger towards. “The more he gets away with, the more he does,” she says.
Not surprisingly, she says his biggest skill is self-promotion and that were it not for the image he promoted of having “the Midas touch,” prompting a number of banks to keep him afloat while he was hundreds of million in debt his financial empire would have collapsed years ago.
But the empire did not collapse and he became very rich and even more famous, but something changed him in the process. “The humanity unfortunately faded as Donald’s star brightened,” Res says. And while clearly a progressive before Obama’s second term, he trademarked Make America Great Again a few days after the inauguration and became a conservative demagogue.
According to the interviewer: “For all her experience with the old Trump, she had trouble discerning what was actual in the new one.”
A Hillary supporter, Res follows the new Donald’s campaign from afar. She saw the coverage of him saying that he wanted to punch a protester in the face.
“I would be laughing, but I’m crying,” she says. “He’s just such a bully. A typical bully.”
P. S. – Res published a book in 2013 about her life in the construction industry available on Amazon, while the Daily Beast article can be reached by cutting and pasting:
In the article Res provides a much fuller portrait of Trump than I have alluded to here.