In recordings released Tuesday of interviews to a biographer in 2014, Donald Trump has reinforced every character perception there is of him as a compulsive fighter, disrespectful of others, self-centred, status conscious and afraid of failure.
The 70-year-old billionaire, who has upended politics in the US with his unpredictable ways, can’t help being himself, and, as he says in the recording, get used to him because, he believes, people don’t change much. He hasn’t, since first grade.
The tapes, which were released by the biographer, Michael D’Antonio, to The New York Times and CNN, revealed nothing as scandalous as the 2005 recording and is unlikely to tip the scale either way just two weeks out of election day.
But it did shed some new light on a man who has confounded friends and foes alike, especially as he is seen to be preparing for an outcome he has said he will not accept. That’s not just him being churlish. The tapes show he loathes losing.
“I never had a failure,” he said in one of the interviews, overlooking the many business setbacks, closures and bankruptcies that he has admitted to “because I always turned a failure into a success”. That he may well do.
But the interviews bring out his deepest fears about failing, and what follows. “Couldn’t get on television,” Trump said about Arsenio Hall, a radio host who had fallen on bad times. “They wouldn’t even take his phone call.”
His first wife, Ivana Trump, told the biographer of the time when she and Trump, before their marriage, went skiing, and she basically turned out to be much better at it. “He could not take it. He could not take it.” He stomped off the ski slope.
And he likes to fight.“I loved to fight. I always loved to fight. … all kinds of fights, physical …. Any kind of fight, I loved it, including physical.” That would explain his public spat with the Khans, parents of a fallen Muslim soldier.
Trump wouldn’t back down, because, it figures, he couldn’t.
It may have had something to do also with another trait: he has no respect for anyone. “You can’t respect people because most people aren’t worthy of respect,” he told D’Antonio. Is that why has behaved the way he has with almost everyone?
But don’t expect him to step back and ask himself that question. “No, I don’t want to think about it,” he said when asked if he ever did any soul-searching, looked for meaning of life. “I don’t like to analyze myself because I might not like what I see.”
But the nominee does watch and hear others do that to him in media, which he is obsessed about, and from an early age — while still in school. Years later, he hired services of a company to keep track of positive references to him in media.
“There are thousands of them a day,” he told the biographer. “Thousands, thousands a day.” These references were free advertisement for him and his projects, he figured, and now his presidential campaign, especially in the primaries.
The basic Trump, he has told the biographer, has remained the same all these years. “When I look at myself in the first grade and I look at myself now, I’m basically the same. The temperament is not that different.”