As offered by Bernard Collier, former New York Times bureau chief in Buenos Aires, in response to the question “Have You Ever Met a Brilliant Scammer.” It appeared at the Quora website in this piece where you have to scroll down a bit to find Collier’s response to the question.
Collier met Trump when the now President was in his 20s, and describes him then as
well dressed, handsome, semi-brilliant, the son of a well-to-do real estate developer. He displayed a natural curiosity about anything and anyone who could help him show his overbearing father how he, “Junior,” could erect buildings and amass a fortune in the family enterprise.
Key to Trump’s outlook was his relationship even then with Roy Cohn, a brilliant (graduated Columbia law at 20 — even my brilliant mother took until she was 21) and unscrupulous lawyer.
The core Roy Cohn commandment:
“Don’t tell me about the law, tell me about the judge.”
Immorality was defined in the Roy Cohn/Trump realms as doing anything not of direct personal benefit to oneself or one’s “satellites.” It was considered “stupid” if adversaries would not do dirty tricks because of “morality.” Roy Cohn taught that it was anti-business to allow one’s money-making activities to be hampered by any “moral” concept, including any bias against malicious lying, cheating, framing, and stealing.
If you read the longer paragraph above, the words should very much seem to fit everything we know about Trump, including how he has operated as President.
Collier also finds a way of totally deflating the notion of Trump as a brilliant businessman in these words:
Trump was then, as he is now, referred to by business people who knew him and his operations as “a noisy pipsqueak.”
Mark Cuban, a contemporary billionaire investor and television celebrity, has asked:
“If he was such a good businessman, where are the hundreds and thousands of people who will come out an say they made money with him
Then there is this:
Trump’s ghosted book about the “art” of the deal was itself a scam. There was no art.
His artless point is that to be honest or scrupulous about a business deal (or any deal) is for suckers. To stick it to anyone stupid enough to be stuck is “smart,” and that includes any and all governments.
It was Roy Cohn’s advice to die, as Roy Cohn would die, owing millions of dollars in taxes to the Internal Revenue Service. Currently the public does not know how well Trump may carry out that advice.
Let me repeat these words: His artless point is that to be honest or scrupulous about a business deal (or any deal) is for suckers. That as clearly as anything I have seen describes Trump’s attitude towards those he conned into voting for him, and who will be devastated financially by the policies he now puts forth.
Then there is this:
By the time Trump was in his 40s, his working motto became:
“Overpromise, underdeliver, keep the difference.”
There may be no more pithy definition of a scam.
Of course, you do have to claim that you overdelivered and to put the burden on others to disprove your claim even while you move on to your next bit of outrageousness. Sound familiar?
There is a delightful bit at the end of how the Russians probably view Trump, expressed in terms of chess. I will leave it to you readers to explore that on your own.
What may drive Trump nuts should he read this piece is not the accurate description of how he operates — he will probably gloat about that — but rather that on several occasions Collier describes him as a “pipqueak” and a “pawn.” Remember his visceral response during the primaries to “Little Marco” saying that he Trump had small hands and during the general to Clinton calling him Trump’s puppet.
Read the piece by Collier.
You will be glad you did.