This is our moment of reckoning as a society and as a civilization itself. I didn’t need to do this, folks, believe me—believe me. I built a great company, and I had a wonderful life. I could have enjoyed the fruits and benefits of years of successful business deals and businesses for myself and my family. Instead of going through this absolute horror show of lies, deceptions, malicious attacks—who would have thought?(That nugget starts at 34:20 into the video of the speech; the full transcript is at this link.)
I’m doing it because this country has given me so much, and I feel so strongly that it’s my turn to give back to the country that I love.
Following the Trump quote, Derb wrote, “I think the guy’s sincere.”
I do, too, because at least since he was in his mid-30s, Trump has been declaring his love of country and acknowledging a reluctant willingness—if he sees the need—to step up and serve it.
This is evident from television interviews that Trump did in 1980 (when he was about 34), with gossip columnist Rona Barrett, and in 1987, with Oprah Winfrey. Excerpts from those interviews comprise the opening segments of a 28-minute video medley, Donald J. Trump: The Long Road to the White House (1980 – 2015), apparently assembled by one Chris Emerson. (The medley concludes with 14 minutes of sections from his candidacy-announcement speech at Trump Tower in June 2015.)
Here’s Trump’s one-on-one exchange with Barrett:
RB: Would you like to be the president of the United States?Please do view the video for yourself to witness Trump’s affect in the exchange—no braggadocio, just calm responses to Barrett’s questions.
DT: I really don’t believe I would, Rona, but I would like to see somebody who, as the president, could do the job, and there are very capable people in this country …
RB: Why wouldn’t you dedicate yourself to public service?
DT: Because I think it’s a very mean life. I would love, and I would dedicate my life to this country, but I see it as being a mean life. And I also see it as somebody with strong views and somebody with the kind of views that are maybe a little bit unpopular—which may be right, but may be unpopular—wouldn’t necessarily have a chance of getting elected against somebody with no great brain but a big smile.
(As someone who’s never been plugged-in to American celebrity and popular culture, it surprised me that a 34-year-old—even a prominent one—was asked about presidential ambitions, but this didn’t appear to surprise Trump.)
Oprah Winfrey interviewed Trump before a studio audience, and here’s how that excerpt goes:
OW: This sounds like political/presidential talk to me, and I know people have talked to you about whether or not you want to run. Would you, would you ever?Another segment early in the video medley has Larry King interviewing Trump at the 1988 Republican National Convention. King asks, “Are you a Bush Republican?” to which Trump responds in a fashion that, again, has echoes in his speeches today:
DT: Probably not. But I do get tired of seeing the country ripped off.
OW: Why would you not?
DT: I just don’t think I really have the inclination to do it. I love what I’m doing, I really like it.
OW: Also doesn’t pay as well [audience laughter]
DT: But I just probably wouldn’t do it, I probably wouldn’t, but I do get tired of seeing what’s happening with this country. And if it got so bad, I would never want to rule it out totally, because I really am tired of seeing what’s happening to this country, how we’re really making other people live like kings and we’re not.
OW: You’ve said, though, that if you did run for president, you believe you’d win.
DT: Well, I don’t know. I think I’d win. I tell you what, I wouldn’t go in to lose. I’ve never gone in to lose in my life. And if I did decide to do it, I think I’d be inclined—I would say that I would have a hell of a chance of winning, ‘cause I think people—I don’t how your audience feels—but I think people are tired of seeing the United States ripped off. And I can’t promise you everything, but I can tell you one thing: This country would make one helluva lot of money for most people after 25 years of taken advantage [presumably he meant “after being taken advantage of”—PN], believe me.
No, I think I’m really—the people that I do best with are the people who drive the taxis. You know, wealthy people don’t like me because I’m competing against them all the time, so they don’t like me. I like to win. The fact is I go down the streets of New York and the people who really like me are the taxi drivers and the workers, et cetera, et cetera.
And a 1989 interview (by someone I don’t recognize) starts with Trump castigating our allies for taking advantage of us, yet another theme he has carried forward to today, in his statements about the free-riders in NATO. Next comes this exchange:
DT: We need major surgery. This country needs major surgery.“Or she.” Emphasis in the original. So much for the reflexive claims about Trump’s (or Republicans’) “war on women,” one of today’s most droolingly-stupid tropes.
Interviewer: Are you the surgeon?
DT: I think I’d do a fantastic job, but I really would prefer not doing it.
Interviewer: Uh huh. Are you saying you’d take it only if drafted? [chuckles]
DT: No, I’m not saying that. I’m saying that I hope that somebody comes along who can be an advocate, and I think that somebody will be so popular that he—or she—will be the [unclear]. But I don’t see it now, I wish that person were there.
Paul Nachman [email him] is a retired physicist and immigration sanity activist in Bozeman, MT