Donald Trump:‘Some people think this will be good for my brand. I think it’s irrelevant for my brand.’

trumptimesIdon’t worry about anything,’’

Donald J. Trump told me aboard his 757 as we were flying to the recent Republican debate at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Calif. He was dividing his attention between the brick-size slice of red-velvet cake he was annihilating and the CNN commentator on the 57-inch television who at that moment was talking about Trump, as most commentators have been at pretty much every moment for the last three months. The commentator, Dylan Byers, was saying that

The Trump campaign may be a win-win for Trump, but it is a monstrous dilemma for a lot of other people. It is a dilemma for the Republican Party and a dilemma for the people Trump is running against. They would love to dismiss him as a sideshow and declare his shark jumped, except he keeps dominating the campaign and the conversation, and they have no clue whether to engage, attack, ignore or suck up in response. It is a dilemma for the elected leaders, campaign strategists, credentialed pundits and assorted parasites of the ‘‘establishment.’’ They have a certain set of expectations, unwritten rules and ways of doing things that Trump keeps flouting in the most indelicate of ways. And, of course, it is a dilemma for the media, who fear abetting a circus. This is why The Huffington Post announced in July that it would publish stories about Trump only in its ‘‘entertainment’’ section, so that when it all ended, as it surely would soon, the website could remain pristine and on the side of the high-minded. A similar sort of worry prevented me from writing about Trump throughout his rise this summer. Initially, I dismissed him as a nativist clown, a chief perpetrator of the false notion that President Obama was not born in the United States — the ‘‘birther’’ movement. And I was, of course, way too incredibly serious and high-­minded to ever sully myself by getting so close to Donald Trump.

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‘‘Don’t speak,’’ Trump instructed me as I sat down next to him in a Suburban. That was fine by me. None of the five staff members and security people in the vehicle said a word. We sat, per Trump’s dictate, in silence for the half-hour drive. It was almost comforting to me that he would take a break from being Donald, the Brand, and turn relatively ‘‘off’’ in my presence; that he could, as much as he ever does, retreat into himself. I wondered what he was thinking about.

After a few minutes, I saw Trump staring down into a phone glowing up into his shiny face. I checked my phone, too. ‘‘Speech in Dallas went really well,’’ it said in my Twitter feed, courtesy of @realDonaldTrump, who was tweeting next to me in the dark.

The New York Times

         

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