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236 pages, Kindle Edition
First published July 14, 2020
As my father lay dying, Donald went to the movies. If he can in any way profit from your death, he’ll facilitate it, and then he’ll ignore the fact that you died.So, you think your family’s nuts?
Whereas Mary [Donald’s mother] was needy, Fred [his father] seemed to have no emotional needs at all. In fact, he was a highly-functioning sociopath. Although uncommon, sociopathy is not rare, afflicting as much as 3 percent of the population. Seventy-five percent of those diagnosed are men. Symptoms of sociopathy include a lack of empathy, a facility for lying, an indifference to right and wrong, abusive behavior, and a lack of interest in the rights of others. Having a sociopath as a parent, especially if there is no one else around to mitigate the effects, all but guarantees severe disruption in how children understand themselves, regulate their emotions, and engage with the world.There are better sources for the details of Donald’s lifelong crime spree. What Mary Trump offers is a look into the poisoned tree from which this rotten apple dropped. One thing that stands out is that, even though Fred Sr encouraged all Donald’s worst qualities, there is rarely any sense that Donald had any positive ones beyond a superficial charm. In the Stephanopoulos interview, though, Mary talks about there having once been some kind inclinations in Donald, but they were squashed by his father. Even as a child, he delighted in bullying children smaller than himself, to the extent that Fred was encouraged to take him out of a school on whose board Fred sat. That must have been a fun conversation. Pop relocated Donald to the New York Military Academy, six miles north of West Point, in upstate New York. It was the equivalent of being sent to reform school for rich kids.
It was love of books that set her apart when she was growing up… in what she describes as a “shitty Trump apartment” in the gritty housing projects of Jamaica, Queens, quite different to the rarefied air of the nearby Jamaica Estates where the rest of the family lived. That gave her a grounding in reality. She took the subway to school. And she devoured literature. In her memoir, she recounts that her grandfather’s house did not display a single book until her uncle published his ghostwritten The Art of the Deal in the late 1980s. “I started reading when I was three and a half,” Trump says. “My horizons were already broader than anyone else in the family simply by virtue of that.” - from the Financial Times interviewWhile Mary Trump does not have the objectivity of a true outsider looking at the family, that does not mean that she leaves her clinical toolbox unopened. She has a PhD in clinical psychology. She has observed and had reliable reports on a large swath of Donald’s life, and the lives of other family members, a solid grounding for offering a very well-informed, and analytically incisive, opinion about Donald and other family members.
Andrew Cuomo, the governor of New York and currently the de facto leader of the country’s COVID-19 response, has committed not only the sin of insufficiently kissing Donald’s ass, but the ultimate sin of showing Donald up by being better and more competent, a real leader who is respected and effective and admired. Donald can’t fight back by shutting Cuomo up or reversing his decisions; having abdicated his authority to lead a nationwide response, he no longer has the ability to counter decisions made at the state level…What he can do in order to offset the powerlessness and rage he feels is to punish the rest of us. He’ll withhold ventilators or steal supplies from states that have not groveled sufficiently…What Donald thinks is justified retaliation is, in this context, mass murder.
“Donald stood in the doorway, greeting people as they entered. I (Mary) was one of the last to arrive. I hadn’t yet said hello, and when he saw me, he pointed at me with a surprised look on his face, then said, “I specifically asked for you to be here.” That was the kind of thing he often said to charm people, and he had a knack for tailoring his comment to the occasion, which was all the more impressive. He opened his arms, and then, for the first time in my life, he hugged me.”
“As the first-generation son of German immigrants, Fred Trump Sr. had English as his second language, and he needed to improve his communication skills- he had taken the Dale Carnegie course for a reason, and it wasn’t to boost his self- confidence. But the course had been a failure.” It affected Fred badly, and even his relation with his mother.”
“When Fred Trump Jr was struggling with severe alcohol addiction, his father told him,” Just make up your mind, Fred,” offering a useless platitude that Norman Vincent Peale would have approved of. The closest thing Fred(Sr.) had to a philosophy was the prosperity gospel, which he used like a blunt instrument and an escape hatch, and it had never harmed any of his children more than it did right then.
"That’s like telling me to make up my mind to give up cancer,” Dad (Fed Jr.) said.”
“He’s Frankenstein without a conscience.”
”Does anyone believe that bullshit that he’s a self-made man? What has he accomplished on his own?”