Why Do We Idolize Jerks?
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But Trump is a pure asshole in a way that very few people are ever a pure anything, as one dimensional as the villain in a Batman movie. Everything he says reveals the workings of a hermetically self-referential mind. Here he is explaining his objections to gay marriage:
It’s like in golf. A lot of people—I don’t want this to sound trivial—but a lot of people are switching to these really long putters, very unattractive. It’s weird. You see these great players with these really long putters, because they can’t sink three-footers anymore. And, I hate it. I am a traditionalist. I have so many fabulous friends who happen to be gay, but I am a traditionalist.
Not even Stephen Colbert could have come up with that; what ever else can be said about Trump, he writes his own stuff. And controversial as he is in other regards, no one disputes that he’s an asshole, though people have very different reasons for finding that compelling. Some regard him with de haut en bas disdain. In its heyday in the 1980s, Spy magazine made a fetish of his arriviste coarseness with the recurrent epithet “short-fingered vulgarian” (in retrospect, the “Not our class, dear” condescension of that phrase is a reminder of how tricky it is to deride an asshole from above). Others take pleasure in seething at his outrageousness. His presidential foray in early 2011, with its opportunistic rekindling of the birther dementia, briefly made him Topic A not just on the right but on the left—at the Huffington Post, mentions of Trump trail only those of Sarah Palin, who has been at the game much longer. At the time, even his online supporters conceded that he was an asshole, though they either looked past it or saw it as a plus. To some it meant that he was someone who would get the job done, à la Patton; to others that he wouldn’t mince words in letting the world know what an asshole Barack Obama is:
I will vote for him. The guy might be an asshole but the economy needs a fucking businessman at the helm.
I will vote for Trump, precisely because he is a jerk, but a jerk who knows when he’s getting screwed on a deal, and will make sure it is America that comes out on top.
Trump may be an arrogant asshole but he says what he thinks.
He says what so many ppl are thinking but is afraid to say it because of PC. trump is so fearless and does not give a dam about what ppl think about him. most ppl are afraid to speak their mind and say what they really believe because they will be called racist bigoted etc.
Trump’s preeminence in this line testifies to his mastery of the mechanisms of publicity. Apart from Colbert, no one in public life understands better than he how engaging assholism can be, both in real life and in its broadcast simulacra. The Apprentice epitomizes the genre of reality television built around situations in which people can be abusive to others who have willingly consented to take part in return for money or celebrity. Every episode arcs towards a finale that gives the viewers the opportunity to watch a powerful man acting like an asshole towards his supplicants, dispatching the losing competitor with a brisk, “You’re fired.” The phrase is supposed to evoke the pitilessness it takes to survive in “the ultimate jungle,” but we don’t actually feel much compassion for the losers. They’ve fought to get there, after all, and any residual sympathy we might have had for them is dissipated in the final boardroom scene where they’re incited to act like assholes themselves, selling each other out in an effort to be spared the axe. And anyway, “fired” here really means “playing a subordinate role in the rest of this season’s episodes.” So there’s none of the vicarious outrage we might feel watching a movie of the week that depicts Leona Helmsley summarily discharging a busboy who spilled some tea in her saucer.