The Confidence Man: The Making of Donald Trump and the Breaking of America by Maggie Haberman

Maggie Haberman hails from New York City quite different from Donald Trump’s dominance of glamor and criminality, but she knows this supremacy well. Growing up in the home of a traditional New York Times shoe-laced reporter and well-connected publicist, she’s now cloaked in the digital hub. Haberman’s early assignments, The Times, included coverage of City Hall and its satellite moral holes for the New York Post and Daily News. This unique New York education has stuck with her and sets her apart from her peers who report on the Trump presidency and its seditious consequences. It distinguishes nowThe Confidence Man: The Making of Donald Trump and the Collapse of America“As a uniquely luminous portrait of our supreme leader.

With a sharp look at the backstory, Haberman focuses specifically on the rise of Trump in the late 1970s and 1980s in New York, a group of crooks, gangs, political chiefs, committed prosecutors, and tabloid scandal-mongers. The old Manhattan that Tom Wolfe couldn’t help but scoff at”vanity fireIt is the basis of any understanding of what makes Trump tick. Haberman notes that “the dynamics that defined New York City in the 1980s remained with Trump for decades; He often seemed frozen there.” Zombielike, swaying, strutting, and negatives on the world’s largest stage, just as he did when gossip columnists like Donald shrugged him off; and he would complete his night of the undead, with menacing success, until someone finally leads a figurative stake through his heart. figuratively.

The rap by heart on Trump is that he was a cocky and highly ambitious real estate developer from Queens who had never earned the respect of the Manhattan community, who vowed to beat them at their own game — a pledge that eventually led him to the Oval Office, surprising even Trump. That story appears in “Man of Confidence”And theBut Habermann knows it is superficial.

For one thing, there were countless New York outfield operators in the 1980s, one of whom Haberman cleverly called Trump a “mirror image” despite their obvious differences: Reverend Al Sharpton of Brooklyn, both rude men who smeared opponents and enjoyed their newfound charm; They were somewhat of a clown hacker and refused, I wrote, to be “kicked out of their new ring” by a despised city establishment.

Within this cauldron of forgery, Trump, who was not a ruthless individualist, and lined with his father’s millions, was drawn to a specific milieu of fanatics whom he equated with supreme power, class, and ruthlessness. He was especially held in high esteem with bully George Steinbrenner, of the Cleveland Outsider, and became a regular presence at Boss Yankee Stadium. (I didn’t know until reading Haberman that Trump, weak when it comes to firing subordinates, found his mantra for “the Apprentice” by impersonating Steinbrenner barking “You’re fired,” over and over, not least at Yankees’ Billy Martin, the frequently left manager of positions).

On one hand, there was the feat planner Roger Stone, son of a well-driller from Norwalk, Connecticut, who got his start as a political saboteur of Richard Nixon’s 1972 re-election campaign, and who lobbied his huge Washington corporation (with Paul Manafort as one of his associates) came along. To represent the interests of the Trump Organization. From the outermost town of Adelaide, Australia, there were the unscrupulous Media mogul Rupert Murdoch, who had already turned the liberal New York Post into a right-wing scandalous newspaper, and who in 1985 completed the acquisition of 20th Century Fox that would give the world Fox News, led by another New York member. Roger Ailes gang. There was also the high-profile, media-savvy US attorney Rudy Giuliani, from Brooklyn as Sharpton, and he and Trump circled each other until they were seriously linked a few years later.

Trump’s chief mentor, and advisor to most of the big shots mentioned above, was the legendary underworld and underworld. Roy Cohen. The spoiled son of a leading element in Democratic politics in the Bronx, long known for his McCarthyite blitzkrieg Red Scare, Cohn, Haberman explains, linked Trump to Stone as well as to organized crime while giving him key lessons in high-stakes con man strategy and tactics. The more Trump today scares the press with threats of retaliation, the more he defends his assaults by claiming that he is the victim, and the more he calls his accusers (especially if they represent the federal government) traitorous, life-destroying “scum” he directs his mentor, Cohn.

Haberman provides plenty of material on how these guys did all this with actual impunity. Of course, there will be occasional fines and sealed sentences — Cohn was written off weeks before his death from AIDS, and abandoned by Trump, who knew the outcome as heartless. But as Haberman describes, Trump has gone to great lengths to balance himself with the city’s ruling elite, longtime Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau, including making generous donations to the Morgenthau Pet Charity, the NYPD Athletic League, and the only charitable commitment. Morgenthau was joking heartily that Trump could be counted on to honor. It wasn’t until Cyrus Vance, Jr., who had good pedigree but wasn’t a crusader, behind Morgenthau in 2010 that Trump and his estate finally, after holding back Vance for years, faced a serious investigation by the DA’s office — and even then, prosecutors faced a resignation of The case was in protest when it seemed that Vance’s successor had suddenly dropped her.

Confidence Man also highlights the massive censorship exercised by the press and the wider publishing world, particularly in New York, not only in failing to expose the corruption that Habermann identifies, but in creating and then abetting the famous Trump figure. There have certainly been exceptional naysayers, notably Village Voice attorney Jack Neufeld, Wayne Barrett, who has asked Neufeld to delve into Trump’s shady dealings. The convictions of Barrett and Foyce sparked a brief, aborted federal investigation, but they weren’t about to destabilize the deadlock in the most influential outlets, chief among them the New York Times. The Spy Magazine’s sarcastic shots of the “short-fingered vulgar” also did not raise questions, though it provoked Trump to threaten lawsuits and is said to have angered him to this day.

Indeed, the higher and lower media have become Trump’s medium, sometimes absurdly. Haberman, for example, recounts how Cohn, the great magician to manipulate the press, in 1984 Profile story In the “Style” section of the Washington Post, it was independently followed by another article in a magazine called Manhattan, you—despite its skepticism and even about Trump—fueled impressions that the young dealmaker might seriously serve President Ronald Reagan in high-profile arms control negotiations. Much later, in 1997, when Trump fell into one of his troughs of disastrous business, he’s a New Yorker. Profile personlyAlthough no such piece was likely guarded, it helped cement his recent comeback. Most famously, gossip queens Cindy Adams and Liz Smith, with the help of Page Six of the New York Post, made Trump an epic figure. Long before “The Apprentice” He completed his transformation as a fictional magnate in America, pushing the false image into the naive behind Hudson, and the publishers, editors, and clerks of the Manhattan press, ignoring the facts, were crowned king of New York.

Some episodes in Haberman’s later chapters on Trump’s presidency have already sparked controversy. Under the hype, though, many of the richest storylines from the Trump White House, as reported in “Man of Trust” and elsewhere, have a distinct New York episode. “Where’s my Roy Cohen?” Trump took off in 2018, angry at Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the ultra-conservative former senator from Alabama, who stepped down from the Justice Department’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and who was eventually ousted by Trump.

Before he was impeached twice, Trump found his man, another New York spokesman, William Barr, who as attorney general happily asked Trump, among other things, to lie about the conviction. Mueller Report On Russian interference – until Trump lost reelection, and Barr, well educated in transactional loyalty and tarnished as an alleged “institutional”, refused to enlist in Trump’s coup and jumped at the last minute from the sinking ship. The insane and often pardoned and pardoned crimes of the Stone add another layer of continuity, the connection of Al-Washa with the ancient underworld centered in the Kuhn.

However, Habermann’s contribution to “The Man of Confidence” is much greater than his catchy tales. Subsequent generations of historians will puzzle over Trump’s rise to national power. The best of them learned from Haberman’s book that none of this would have been possible without the social, cultural, political, media and moral collapse that overtook New York at the beginning of the 1970s, a complete failure of the credible institutions that allowed the Trump virus to thrive, failed at every step to contain its spread, and then benefited him and helped him and even rejoiced at his destruction.

“It’s up to you, New York, New York,” runs the song that has become the city’s anthem in these years, and so it was up to the evolving cosmopolitan New York in terms of Trump scrutiny. But New York blew it up on every level—and unfortunately, even with the “man of confidence” as a guideline for this failure, it may be too late to start making the news, and American democracy is now at stake.

Shawn Willentz, Professor of History at Princeton University, and most recently author of “No Property in Man: Slavery and Anti-Slavery in the Founding of the Nation. “

The making of Donald Trump and the collapse of America

Penguin Press. 597 p $ 32

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