I sat a few feet from Donald Trump, once. It was at the funeral of an estranged uncle who was regarded as sort of a villain and sort of a thief -- the Yiddish word you'd use would be gonif -- by most people in my family, and probably by many in his profession. This uncle made a lot of money, despite that or more likely because of it, and a service was held for him at a swank funeral home on Manhattan's Upper East Side. Trump was there for the service, sitting above the gallery, by himself. I didn't see him leave.
I can report that he has a weird sort of gravitas, in the way that famous people do, and also that he is a strikingly strange physical presence. He has the complexion of a creamsicle, and his hair swirls atop his head with disconcerting translucence -- a cotton candy sculpture in the shape of a vending machine honey bun. And that, until the moment that Donald Trump retweeted and appropriated a fake Donald Trump quote that I wrote, was the closest I've ever come to interacting with him.
I can explain, or I can at least try to explain my part of this. Sometimes, when I am supposed to be either writing or sleeping, I am on Twitter being an idiot. More often than it should, this involves ventriloquizing Donald Trump in ways designed to goof on the bellowing crassness and grandiose dopiness that are Trump's trademark.
Trump's golf major
Trump's golf major
My opinions on Trump as an unpleasant public figure, exemplar of idiot materialism and general charlatan are a matter of public record. Mostly what I'm interested in with these tweets is Trump's online voice, which is both stupendously vain and stupendously petty, and not at all like anyone else on Twitter. (Although Alec Baldwin is pretty close.)
Unless you wish to see a steady stream of Trump retweeting people urging him to run for President, the odd reheated talking point, and pictures of his golf courses, there is no real reason to follow him on Twitter. Every now and then, though, Trump will air it out a bit, and the results are glorious: one of our greatest public a-holes issuing one high squeaking fart after another into the internet ether. I vividly recall, on the night that Hurricane Sandy made devastating landfall in New York, Trump tweeting well into the night about how much weight Bette Midler had gained.
This is the voice I emulate, mostly. The key is to come up with the most fatuous possible points and spammiest possible self-promotion, and then deliver them in the most pompous and self-flattering possible way. So:
"At Donald Trump KIA of Center Islip, you get the ultimate in automotive luxury. Very sad for the losers and haters who can't see that."— David Roth (@david_j_roth) October 24, 2013
And, again, I have many better things to do. Mostly I do them. Sometimes, as I did a few minutes after midnight on Monday, I do this instead:
Donald Trump dictates his memoirs while eating steak on a toilet. "Too many people these days don't care about winning. I call them losers."— David Roth (@david_j_roth) June 10, 2014
This was apparently not enough. Twitter says that it was less than a minute later that I tweeted another fatuous fake Trump quote.
"I was never one who looked at success as bad. For me, success was always good. I loved it, and still do." - Donald Trump, WINNING, pg. 27— David Roth (@david_j_roth) June 10, 2014
It's worth noting that Donald Trump has never written a book called Winning. He has never said these specific words, at least in print. Which made this, just a few minutes later, so startling:
"@david_j_roth: "I was never one who looked at success as bad. For me, success was always good. I loved it, and still do." Donald Trump— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 10, 2014
I am still trying to figure out what this means, beyond the fact that TV Billionaire Donald Trump is up after midnight name-searching himself on Twitter. Did he just appropriate what I wrote and make it his own, and so undercut the joke by making it into a non-joke? Did he, as I sincerely hope, look at this nutrition-free successory-grade platitude and think, "yeah, close enough?"
Whatever the case, my mentions are still EXTREMELY LUXURIOUS twelve hours later:
This brief dunk in the fishtank of Donald Trump's followers is probably as close as I'll ever come to feeling much sympathy for him. Trump is a bum in a million different ways, but Twitter can't be an easy place for him to be. There are people hustling for donations, mega-ditto'ing his thundering criticisms of Obungler, and calling him a toilet person, probably in about equal measure.
But all the subliterate flattery from his various supplicants doesn't seem to have done him any favors, either; it's easy to see how that humid climate might hasten his ripening into his present state of bloated and fragrant self-parody. It is easy, if you try a little bit, to imagine why he might search for something inspirational about himself late at night, just to break away from the unease and idiocy he's gathered around him. And it's not like what I wrote is any less ghostwritten than anything else with his name on it.
In its way, our tweet espouses a very popular and premium-quality sentiment. Everyone loves it. It's sad for the haters and losers who can't see that.