Mark Singer in The New Yorker:
A deputy mayor of New York City once sagely observed, “I wouldn’t believe Donald Trump if his tongue were notarized.” A simple enough rule to live by, which raises the question of whether Trump “believes” his own non-stop prevarications. Leaving aside the tempting armchair theories about where Trump belongs on the spectrum of acute narcissistic personality disorder, I’m convinced that he’s convinced that everything he says and does is ultimately good for business. A large proportion of the tenants in Trump properties are foreigners who regard them as worthy flight-capital investments. A reassuring segment of the American electorate recognizes Trump’s execrable birtherism, aspersions upon President Obama’s academic credentials, and the slur that he needs to get “off his basketball court” for exactly what they are. Abroad, however, I doubt that a large audience is playing close enough attention.
Probably the funniest thing I ever heard Trump say was when, one day in his office, he handed me an unaudited financial statement (the provisional numbers added up to a net worth of a few billion) and declared, “I’ve never shown this to a reporter before.” If, at some point in the near future, Trump makes public an up-to-date “audited” financial statement, my guess is that a very large percentage will be assigned to the value of his name alone and a far less impressive amount to his tangible holdings. Until a couple of days ago, I was in accord with those who maintained that Trump would never formally announce his Presidential candidacy because he couldn’t walk away from whatever his fellow cynics at NBC Universal would pay him for another season of “Celebrity Apprentice.” Now I’m not so sure. Clearly, he needs the money—he always needs the money. One potential pitfall for Trump is that his compulsive ugliness is self-propagating. As Hertzberg and David Remnick observe, whatever laughter Trump evokes is rooted in dread and disgust, which the demeaning spectacle of President Obama releasing the long form of his birth certificate deepened into revulsion. Can he and will he get even uglier? Count on it. As of yet, there are no indications that the suits at NBC will muster the scruples to deprive him of his lucrative franchise. Unless, that is, Trump winds up doing a Full Frontal Charlie Sheen. Not an outcome we should necessarily hope for, but at the rate he’s going he just might.