Letter to a friend explaining Donald J. Trump

I recently got back in touch with one of my oldest friends — from junior high school — and in the course of getting reacquainted, I mentioned another old friend, a mutual acquaintance, who supports Donald J. Trump.

Donald J. Trump in front of adoring crowds (Photo: Slate.com)

How can that be, my friend asked? I don’t understand his appeal and no one has ever been able to explain it to me, said my friend, who is moderately Left — liberal, not progressive.

I took that as a kind of a challenge, and decided maybe I could shed light, especially for the handful of TDS — Trump Derangement Syndrome — subscribers here.

Since 2015, when Trump announced, I have been against him for president.


I know him.

Not well, but from my time covering Atlantic City, when he was a Big Deal there. I was invited to his Big Events — like the opening of his Taj Mahal casino — and the first time he brought his yacht, the Trump Princess, to dock in A.C. 

In covering that event, I reported that he renamed the  86-meter yacht, Nabila, that he bought for $30 million from billionaire arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi.

I also reported that in maritime circles, renaming a boat is considered to be bad luck.

Sure enough, as soon as the Trump Princess was seen coming over the horizon, a horrible squall came out of nowhere and sent the dignitaries on the dock scrambling for cover.

Trump had ignored custom, as is his custom. Did he really pay $30 million? I don’t know. I do know when he opened the Taj Mahal, he claimed it was 52 stories and the tallest building in New Jersey.

It was neither of those things.

As CNN commentator Fareed Zakaria was to remark many years later, Trump is a “bullshitter.”

Until he came down the elevator to announce he would run, most of the media had scoffed, because he previously hinted he might run, and didn’t.

A bullshitter.

As his run began, I discounted him because I knew him only as a developer who had been in and out of Chapter XI bankruptcies, and a casino mogul.

Since I never watched “The Apprentice,” I had no inkling of what a huge TV star he had become — and that was the biggest key to his election. He was the host of the top-rated show for 14 seasons.

Americans often are drawn to celebrity and The Donald was a major star.

The media covered him with amusement and did not see the tsunami that was building right in front of them.

Pennsylvania reporter Salena Zito explained it best. “The press takes him literally, but not seriously; his supporters take him seriously, but not literally.”


So when his supporters screamed, “Lock her up! Lock her up!!” at rallies, meaning Hilary Clinton, they did not expect that to happen, that was kind of a joke between them and the man they adored. As president, Trump never even thought about actually getting Justice to indict her. He’s a bullshitter.

“Build the wall!” 

That he wanted to do, but Congress wouldn’t let him.

And when Congress didn’t, that aggravated the grievance his supporters felt.

So you thought only minorities had grievances?

Grievance was part of the glue that held his unlikely coalition together.

He captured Christian conservatives, despite his many marriages, his sex talks, his apparent affairs, and his life-long pro-choice record.

The media scoffed that he attracted non-college graduates, and ridiculed them as — remember this one? — deplorables. The media forgot that while they were college graduates,  two-thirds of Americans don’t have college degrees.

He attracted white men, and to many in the progressive press corps, this became a negative in itself. It was somehow white supremacy. They had no such issue with Democrats not just owning, but celebrating ownership of Black females. 

His border enforcement was actually not much worse than President Barack Obama’s — who was condemned as the Great Deporter among Open Border types — but Trump had s genuine knack for expressing it in racist terms that embarrassed people like me, who agreed with the policy, but were horrified by the language. 

Major media ignored the cages when Barack Obama was president (Photo: BBC)

The “cages” the migrants were held in were widely covered. That they were built by Obama was not.

Well, Trump was right on the border. If you don’t see that now, you either have TDS, or you are for Open Borders, which will kill America, just as the flood of migrants is set to “destroy” New York, in the words of Democratic Mayor Eric Adams.

In my opinion, Trump also deserves credit for Operation Warp Speed, the Abrahamic accords, the Space Force, record low unemployment,  improved services to veterans, legislation raising penalties for animal cruelty, America becoming an energy exporter, and five openly gay ambassadors.

None of this mitigates the harm he has done. Remember, what I am doing here is explaining why so many are devoted to him. 

When Trump talked about America First, he was striking a chord with the declining, but still substantial, people who cry when they see our Flag. He should have been saying, America First, But Not Alone, but he is not a strategic thinker.

I would love to see  his Wharton transcript. If he were better than a C student, he must have bought off his teachers.

The America First, or Make America Great Again — brilliant branding — slogans appeal to both nationalists and populists.

Nationalism has developed a bad rep in some quarters, but to many people it means love of country and America First.

If populism is so bad, why doesn’t the mainstream media criticize Bernie Sanders for it? He is surely a populist, but he’s a populist from the Left, which is OK, while populism from the Right is fascism. A double standard.

Just my opinions here, right?

So there is his appeal — populism (from a millionaire), patriotism, nationalism, conservatism. 

One other thing: One thing a bullshitter knows, and that is other bullshitters.

So he becomes the bullshitter in the china shop, destroying Political Correctness, in both ideas and language. 

And even more so as Political Correctness has turned into Wokeism, which does exist. It is not a myth.

And while Trumpsters may not have a degree in biology, they can tell you what a woman is.

They like that he is not Politically Correct. They like that he is coarse. They like that he is not a “politician,” so unlike any other leader in their lifetime.

The true Trumpsters buy into the idea that he is defending them when he is called into court for everything from embezzlement to conspiracy to overthrowing the government.

MAGA has all the hallmarks of a cult led by a charismatic leader. It requires belief without facts.

Like Jesus. Or Hitler.

44 thoughts on “Letter to a friend explaining Donald J. Trump”

  1. The fact is the voting public, in my opinion, sees the man for being an honest liar and knows where he stands. in comparison, most of his opponents are liars and never own the fact that they are liars. Is he crude? Sure. Is he a racist? NO. but if you are left you can’t take the in-your-face person he is cause he doesn’t coddle you, and make you feel good. I knew he was a bullshitter and wanted that in the political machine to gum up the works. Now the fact is no one can come up with a reason other than he is Trump and they will not vote for that man. Never mind the fact they have no reason to vote for a candidate on the left except for the fact their not Trump. I am a registered Democrat but have never in my life voted a straight ticket. Given the choice I will vote for someone or something on the merits of said candidate, I will not vote against a candidate based on popular opinion.

    1. Rich, I COULD give you the reasons to not vote for him, but that was not the thrust of this letter. Others here will be happy to supply the negatives. 😄

  2. “MAGA has all the hallmarks of a cult led by a charismatic leader. It requires belief without facts.
    Like Jesus. Or Hitler.”


  3. Thanks for your thoughts Stu. If Trump were only a bullshtter…

    Here are my thoughts on Donald Trump –

    I think that DJT is a man of his times. He’s the embodiment of “every man for himself”. He is a narcissist who cares for no one but himself, his money, his influence and his power. He, along with so many of his supporters, don’t really care about what other people think, want, or need.
    Once we had a belief in family, country, state, city/town, and friends. I think none of that is true any longer. Trumpers just don’t care about teachers, public schools, national government, help for the hungry and poor (especially if they are non-white), science, and a whole bunch of other things that I do care about.

    It really doesn’t matter if government helps people or guns kill people. Trump certainly doesn’t care. His only interest is in getting more money and influence. Power, certainly. He loves the idea that Putin doesn’t have to answer to anyone and can order the death of almost anyone in the world. It would thrill him to have that ability and he would brag about it just as he bragged about shooting people on Fifth Avenue.

    I don’t get it and I don’t like it but lots of Americans want to be so like him. Want to be able snap a finger and have their wishes obeyed. Stu and I are both now old men and come from a generation where people wanted to be cooperative. Perhaps that attitude changed in this country with the Tonkin Gulf lies of Lyndon Johnson or the Watergate theft inspired by Richard Milhous whose last name should never be mentioned and his disgraced VP. The con continued with Ronald Reagan’s “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help.’ and Charlton Heston’s “I’ll give you my gun when you take it from my cold, dead hands.”

    The only way to explain that Trump has supporters among the LGBTQ community, the black community, and most of all the Hispanic and Islamic communities is to say that individuals in these communities feel more strongly about themselves than about their neighbors and certainly about their countrytmen. On the other hand, he has no more use for the white evangelical community either. It’s just all about him and the rest of us can go to hell in a hand basket.

    Lead on, oh ship of the Trumpist state.

    1. Wally,

      Most of your comments regarding Trump have merit, but assigning these traits to Trump supporters is part of the problem. You use the term Trumpers, I have been labeled as such, even though I despise the man and am exhausted by the media coverage of him.

      The desire to group everyone in order to dismiss them is why Trump was elected in 2016. Remember Hillary’s “basket of deplorable”.

      Statements like Trumpers do not care about teachers or public schools are particularly offensive. I view many Trump supporters as extremely supportive of Teachers and Public Schools with a strong disdain for Teachers Unions, who lack accountability for their poor performance and have crossed the line from protecting teachers jobs. Most want improved performance by public schools and less politics.

      Your statement about the nine most feared words, fails to recognize the failure of government intervention and the staggering costs of their intervention. Look at the Affordable Care Act, insurance premiums have skyrocketed along with copays, prescription costs as smaller medical practices are gobbled up by major medical facilities. But not to worry, the Biden Admin is capping the cost of insulin. What about every other drug, medical procedure or doctor that the rest of us are finding unaffordable.

      If that sounds, like I am a Trumper who does not care about anyone, you missed the point again. I could never vote for him, but I understand why many would, which is the point Stu makes.

      Let’s all hope a real leader emerges immediately, so we are not left with a choice between Biden and Trump.

  4. I keep coming back to the singular fact that, yes, he’s just a plain bullshitter. He seemingly has no principles, no plan to get to, well, where he’s going he really hasn’t figured that out yet. And he has no idea how to govern, or how the very mechanism he wants to head up (again) actually works. Put me in the “ageist” camp; I really don’t want to vote again for President Biden. He’s done an OK job, done some things really well and some things not so well. But I do have a problem with sending an 82 year old to begin another four year term back to the White House. However when it comes to Trump, I’ll take the Phillies Phonetic over him.

  5. Trumps 4 years of accomplishment speak for themselves. What he did in that short time was amazing. Who knew Americans didn’t want peace and prosperity.Trump tried to fulfill all his promises that were good for the country but the democrats cut him short of his goals. If we had given him 4 more years we would not be in this mess. The country and the world would be in a far better place. Trump may bullshit but he is not liar. Biden has been lying his whole career. The old time democrats knew he was a liar and would never think of voting for him the first two times he ran for president but sadly they died off. The new socialist democrats dominate the party now and are out to destroy are way of life. Trump improved peoples lives . Biden and the New Democrats are destroying peoples lives

      1. You listed some of Trumps many accomplishment . And you know what a failure Biden has been but you will still vote for Biden. Talk about out of touch . You didn’t vote for him last time when you still had common sense. Now after he’s screwed things up your going to vote for him. Your losing it Stu.

        1. You believe Obama runs Biden and I’M out of touch?
          You believe a lot of things without a shred of evidence.
          DJT is disqualified by character and intellect to be president. I would vote for YOU over him.
          Oops. No. I retract that. You’re alike as peas in a pod.

          1. I never said Obama is running anything. Your losing it. Your like most Biden lovers you can’t admit you fucked up and you fucked up the country.

          2. I’ll be waiting for your apology for lying about me saying Obamas running things. Your just like the rest of the main stream media never getting your facts straight.

  6. Is Donald Trump a bullshitter… Of course… it comes with the territory. Is Joe Biden a bullshitter… not really, during his long political career he is and has been an outright liar. I believe if Donald Trump served a second consecutive term the country would be a better, safer more productive country. I believe Russia would never have invaded Ukraine and Israel would be at peace. Just my thoughts and the thoughts of many voters in our country. Joe Biden is suffering from dementia and is having his strings pulled by Obama. Soon Joe Biden will have to step down to make way for another puppet in the White House. It will be Gavin Newsom or some other democratic flunkie. God Bless and Save America.

    1. Anyone who believes Obama controls Biden is out of touch with reality. They don’t even like each other. I realize you are following a familiar trope.

  7. Find me somebody in politics who is not a liar, and we can make that person President.

  8. I liked what you wrote — up to the point where you used Jesus’s name to represent someone with no facts behind his existence. And then putting His name next to Hitler’s and referring to His followers as members of a ‘cult.’ So not like you.

    1. Vince, you can’t prove God exists, that’s what I mean by belief over facts.
      Those who followed Jesus were a cult, which is a relatively small group of people with religious beliefs that are outside the mainstream.
      I have never called Trump Hitler, and have defended him from those who do.
      But — he IS a charismatic leader, and the True Believers are devoted to the person. In that respect he is like Hitler, but not “a” Hitler.

    2. I agree. That sentence stopped me in my tracks. I thought it was unnecessary and mean-spirited to bring Jesus into the argument, especially when paired with Hitler.

    1. I’ll Take the imaginary Trump cult over Biden and the socialist democrats. Do you really want big government, redistribution of wealth, high taxes.paying for other peoples college education. Do you want to stack the Supreme Court and get rid of the electoral college and all the other woke agenda. How stupid have the Americans people become.

  9. A man without a conscience never has to say he is sorry. Trump’s disrespect for our institutions, our Military Hero’s, our laws are obvious. January 6th attack on the capital was inspired by Trump’s actions. The Republican Party won’t win with him as the Presidential Candidate. Trump fatigue syndrome is real. He had some good policies when in office concerning immigration and oil production. However, his act is so uninspiring I just completely ignore him now.

  10. Whether one likes him or not he is a phenom and especially great for those in the “ratings” business. Was it a coincidence CNN’s ratings began to collapse at the end of his term? How come Jimmy Kimmel can’t do one monologue without mentioning his name (usually over and over)- three years after being out of office?

    His political shelf life is one to five years- one year if he is not nominated up to five years if elected again. What will media outlets talk about when he’s no longer relevant?

  11. Once again you discuss Trump’s Immigration policies without so much as a mention of the CRUEL policy of separating children, even infants from their parents. Shameful.

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