“Loser”: How a lifelong fear could have booked Trump’s presidency

In the recent distant Republican presidential election in 2016, Texas Senator Ted Cruz deftly won the Iowa election. This was defined by a method that had recently come under attack but was considered standard at the time: elementary mathematics.

One of the Iowa losers, developer and television personality Donald J. Trump, soon accused Mr. Cruz of election theft. He has released several inflammatory tweets, including a preview of our current pro-democracy moment: “Based on the frauds committed by Senator Ted Cruz during the Iowa Caucasus, either new elections are needed or Cruz’s results become null and void.”

The episode disappeared in the tsunami of political vitriol that occurred during Trump’s presidency. Nevertheless, it reflects what those who have worked with Mr. Trump say is the way he works when he tries to slide the humiliating epithet he has so easily applied to others.


“The first thing he calls someone who offended is a loser,” said Jack O’Donnell, who ran an Atlantic City casino at Mr. Trump in the 1980s. – That’s his main offensive word. The worst thing about his world would be to be a loser. To avoid being called a loser, do or say anything. “

Throughout his long career, he has spun, curled, and attacked — in the press, in lawsuits, and more recently on Twitter, of course — whenever he was confronted with appearing as the superior of the moment: the biggest, the smartest, the healthiest. , the best. This sometimes required bold attempts to turn the negative into the positive, often by saying something over and over until it either displaces the truth or tires the audience of surrender.

It’s a matter of record that Mr. Trump has been a loser in many businesses (Trump Steaks, anyone?). In fact, his greatest success did not come from real estate, but from the creation of a popular alternative reality television personality – Donald Trump, the master of the council chamber – who eventually rode into the White House.

But his famous aversion to the loser’s label has now reached his apotheosis.

Ever since Joseph R. Biden Jr. was declared the winner of the November 3 election – and Mr. Trump therefore declared him a loser – the President has repeatedly traded unfounded accusations of a fraudulent and corrupt electoral process. What was once a quirky feature of a self-employed New York developer came under international confusion that almost uplifted the sacred transition of power and left the world’s very first democracy – struggling with a deadly epidemic and a stray economy – with a leader unwilling despite basic math. to admit.

“AND I WON THE ELECTION,” Mr. Trump tweeted last week. “VOTER FRAUD IN THE COUNTRY.”

On Monday, the Trump administration finally granted a one-week delayed interim procedure after Michigan certified Mr. Biden as the winner. Nevertheless, Mr. Trump continued to press quixotic lawsuits and tweet with deception and defiant determination.

“Our case continues strongly, we will continue the good fight.”

– It was SUPREME!

And for Thanksgiving: “I just saw the voting charts. It is NOT BAY that Biden received 80,000,000 votes !!! It was a 100% CORRECT CHOICE.

With his tweets, the president, among his many millions of followers, raised doubts about the foundations of the republic. In a recent Reuters / Ipsos poll, about half of Republicans surveyed believed Mr Trump had “legitimately won” re-election, and 68 per cent expressed concern that the election had been “cheated”.

Such behavior by the president reflects a binary code view of life that leaves no room for nuances or complications. If a person is not one, that person is zero.

“You’re either a winner or a loser,” said Michael D. Cohen, Mr. Trump’s former attorney and repairman in an interview last week. “Reality is secondary. It’s all about perception. “

Mr. Cohen, who was convicted in 2018 of tax fraud and campaign finance violations and who has since become a loud critic of the president, gave many examples in his recently published book, “Infidel: A Memoir”.

Mr. Cohen recounted how in 2014 CNBC conducted a poll of the 25 most influential people in the world. Trump, who originally ranked 187th out of 200, ordered Mr. Cohen to improve his position.

“Just make sure I get in the top 10,” Mr. Cohen said, according to Trump.

Mr. Cohen hired someone to evaluate the options. After finding that the poll was manipulative, he spent $ 15,000 to buy discrete IP addresses through which to vote for Mr. Trump. The system worked when Mr. Trump rose to ninth place when all the votes were counted.

“Not long after, Trump believed he was indeed ranked in the top 10 and considered a deeply important business personality,” Mr. Cohen wrote.

But CNBC removed Trump from the list without explanation. The angry future president ordered Mr. Cohen to change the direction of the network. It failed. He then ordered him to write a story in the media about the “terrible treatment Trump received under CNBC”. That, too, failed.

Nevertheless, Mr. Trump managed to take advantage of the false ranking before he was eliminated from the list. “He made hundreds of copies and added the poll to the pile of newspaper clippings and magazine profiles that he hands over to visitors,” Mr. Cohen wrote.

This fear of being considered somehow less than the best is a recurring theme in the hill of books and articles written about Mr. Trump. Many observers of Trump’s family history reflected on the influence of the patriarch, developer Fred C. Trump, who had his own version of humanity’s binary taxonomy: the strong and the weak.

Mr. Trump bounced on this in his book, “Trump: The Art of Business,” in which he recalled gluing his brother Robert’s blocks together, ensuring that they didn’t go past any competition other than blocks.

“That’s how Robert’s blocks are over,” he wrote.

The repetition of this episode as an adult occurred at one of the key moments in the man’s career: the opening of the Taj Mahal Casino in Atlantic City in 1990.

According to Mr. O’Donnell, who was deeply involved in the venture, Trump sought to open the casino ahead of time because he feared the shame of the delay after promising a glittering, celebrity-filled opening to the world.

The casino was not ready; among other things, only a quarter of the slot machines were open, so the cave space was quiet and empty. “It was just awful,” O’Donnell recalled, writing a book about his experiences with the future president. – It didn’t look like a normal casino.

Mr. Trump alone was angry and blamed his brother Robert for some problems. (The younger Trump stopped and did not speak to his brother for years.) Publicly, however, Mr. Trump boasted of the miracle that was the Taj Mahal.

Mr. Trump, who appeared on CNN’s “Larry King Live” show in April 1990, said the only problem with the opening day of the Taj Mahal was too much success. Gamblers played the slot machines so fiercely that the machines almost caught fire.

“We had machines that – practically burned,” Mr Trump said. – No one has seen that before.

The Taj Mahal filed for bankruptcy the following year, causing many of Mr. Trump’s creditors and policyholders to fail.

Trump explained his worldview in a 2014 interview with author Michael D’Antonio. “You can be tough and ruthless and all that, and if you lose a lot, no one will follow because they look at you as a loser,” he said. “Victory is a very important thing. The most important aspect of leadership is victory. If you have a record of winning, people will follow.

Mr. Trump has often used the courts to try to defeat anyone who may question his position in Olympic wealth and success. Outstanding in this category is the $ 5 billion lawsuit filed against journalist Timothy L. O’Brien, whose 2005 book, “TrumpNation: The Art of Being the Donald,” argued that Mr. Trump’s net worth does not exceed and $ 250 million. – that in other words he was not a billionaire.

Mr. O’Brien reported that Mr. Trump attributed the castastic deviation to envy. “You may be able to talk to guys who have a £ 400 wife at home,” Mr. Trump said. “But the guys who really know me know I’m a great builder.”

The lawsuit was dismissed.

Of course, Mr. Trump’s claim to be considered a winner informed his presidency. Self-nominated superlatives cover every base, doing the most for the Black Americans from “the best things ever happened to Puerto Rico” (with the possible exception of Abraham Lincoln). Prior to his possible prosecution, Mr Trump called himself “the greatest of all our presidents”.

Perhaps the most famous moment when this desire was immersed in public policy came in late 2018, when Mr. Trump demanded funding for one of his central fixes with the impending government shutdown: the Mexican border wall.

After Mr. Trump encouraged his Republican comrades in Congress to compromise, Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, worked out an agreement to avoid a stalemate and temporarily set aside talks on security measures, including the border wall.

Mr Trump seemed to be signing the convention – that is, until conservative experts accused the president of wanting Democrats to break the promise of “Build the Wall” and that he was actually a loser.

The president has turned the tide, marking the longest federal government lock in the country’s history – the impartial Congressional Budget Office said the estimated cost to the economy was $ 11 billion.

After Mr. Trump was sworn in as President of the United States in January 2017, his administration claimed that despite evidence to the contrary, the inaugural audience was ever the largest. But any suggestion would otherwise have made Mr. Trump a loser in some of the imagined races of the training population.

Now, almost four years later, citizens have cast their ballots, rejected unfounded lawsuits alleging election fraud, and states have verified the vote. Nevertheless, the loser in the 2020 presidential election continues to see masses like the rest of the country.

It starts the way it started.

Russ Buettner, Susanne Craig and Mike McIntire contributed to the report.