Senator Ted Cruz of Texas won the Iowa Congregation in the now-removed Republican President’s 2016 primaries. This was ascertained through a method that has been under attack lately but was considered the standard at the time: elementary math.
One of the losers in Iowa, developer and television personality Donald J. Trump, soon accused Mr. Cruz of election theft. He has fired several inflammatory tweets, including this premonition of our current Democratic testing moment: “Due to the fraud committed by Senator Ted Cruz during the Iowa Caucus, either new elections should be held or Cruz results should be voided.”
The episode disappeared in the political vitriol tsunami during the Trump presidency. Still, it reflects what those who have worked with Mr. Trump refer to as his course of action when attempting to discard the humiliating epithet he has so willingly applied to others.
“The first thing he calls someone who wronged them is a loser,” said Jack O’Donnell, who ran an Atlantic City casino for Mr. Trump in the 1980s. “That is his main attack word. The worst thing in his world would be to be a loser. In order not to be called a loser, he will do or say something.”
Throughout his long career, he’s turned, appeased, and attacked – in the press, in court cases, and recently on Twitter, of course – when he is less than the superlative of the moment: the greatest, the smartest, the healthiest, the best. This sometimes required bold attempts to turn a negative into a positive, often by saying something over and over until it either dislodged the truth or exhausted the audience to surrender.
Mr Trump is known to have been a loser in many areas of the business (Trump Steaks, anyone?). In fact, his greatest success came not from real estate, but from the creation of a popular alternative reality television personality – Donald Trump, boardroom master – who he eventually drove to the White House.
But his famous aversion to the loser label has now reached apotheosis.
Since Joseph R. Biden Jr. was declared the winner of the November 3rd election – and therefore Mr Trump a loser – the president has repeatedly raised unsubstantiated allegations of a fraudulent and corrupt electoral process. What was once considered the peculiar trait of a self-reliant New York developer has become an international embarrassment that turns the sacred shift in power on its head and the world’s leading democracy – grappling with a deadly pandemic and fluctuating economy – with one Leaves leader who refuses to admit despite the basic math.
“And I won the election,” tweeted Mr. Trump last week. “Election fraud across the country.”
On Monday, the Trump administration finally approved a week-delayed transition process after Michigan certified Mr Biden as its winner. Even so, Mr Trump continued to press quixotic lawsuits and tweet about fraud and defiant determination.
“Our case goes on STRONG, we will continue the good fight.”
“That was a LANDSLIDE!”
And on Thanksgiving: “I just saw the voting tables. There is no way Biden could have 80,000,000 votes !!! THIS WAS A 100% RIGGED CHOICE. “
The President’s tweets managed to arouse doubts about the foundations of the republic among his many millions of followers. In a recent Reuters / Ipsos poll, around half of Republicans surveyed believed that Mr Trump “rightly won” the re-election, and 68 percent expressed concern that the election was “rigged”.
Such behavior by the President reflects a binary code approach to life that leaves no room for nuances or complications. If a person is not a one, that person is a zero.
“You’re either a winner or a loser,” said Michael D. Cohen, former lawyer and fixer for Mr. Trump, in an interview last week. “Reality is secondary. It’s all about perception. “
Mr. Cohen, who was convicted of tax evasion and campaign finance violations in 2018 and has since been a vocal critic of the president, provided several examples in his recent book Disloyal: A Memoir.
Mr. Cohen shared how CNBC prepared a poll among the 25 most influential people in the world in 2014. Mr. Trump, originally ranked 187th out of 200, ordered Mr. Cohen to improve his reputation.
“Just make sure I make it into the top 10,” Mr. Trump said, according to Mr. Cohen.
Mr. Cohen hired someone to look into the options. After that person found the survey could be tampered with, $ 15,000 was spent on discreet I.P. Addresses through which votes for Mr. Trump could be cast. The program worked, and Mr Trump was lifted to ninth place when all the votes were counted.
“It wasn’t long before Trump believed he was really in the top 10 and was seen as an extremely important business figure,” Cohen wrote.
But CNBC removed Mr. Trump from the list without making a statement. The enraged future president ordered Mr. Cohen to get the network to change course. This failed. He then ordered him to publish a story in the media about “the terrible treatment Trump received from CNBC”. This also failed.
Even so, Mr. Trump managed to exploit the wrong ranking before being removed from the list. “He had hundreds of copies made and added the survey to the pile of newspaper clippings and magazine profiles he would give to visitors,” Cohen wrote.
That fear of being viewed as less than the best is a recurring theme in the mountains of books and articles written about Mr. Trump. Many watchers of Trump family history have pondered the influence of the patriarch, developer Fred C. Trump, who had his own version of the binary taxonomy of humanity: the strong and the weak.
Mr. Trump addressed this in his book, Trump: The Art of the Deal, where he recalled taping his younger brother Robert’s blocks together to effectively ensure that he was not outperformed in any block competition.
“That was the end of Robert’s blocks,” he wrote.
A grown-up replay of this episode took place at a pivotal point in the man’s career: the opening of his Taj Mahal casino in Atlantic City in 1990.
According to Mr. O’Donnell, who was deeply involved with the company, Mr. Trump was pushing for the casino to open early because he feared a delay would bring a delay after giving the world a dazzling, prominent opening had promised.
The casino wasn’t ready yet. Among other things, only a quarter of the slot machines were open, so the cavernous space remained quiet and empty. “It was just horrible,” recalled Mr O’Donnell, who wrote a book about his experience with the future president. “It didn’t look like a normal casino.”
Privately, Mr. Trump was furious and blamed his brother Robert for some of the problems. (The younger Trump gave up and did not speak to his brother for years.) In public, however, Mr. Trump boasted of the miracle that the Taj Mahal was.
When Trump appeared on CNN’s “Larry King Live” in April 1990, he said the only problem with the opening day of the Taj Mahal was too much success. Players played the slots with such ferocity that the machines almost went up in flames.
“We had machines that – they practically burned,” Trump said. “Nobody has ever seen anything like it.”
The Taj Mahal filed for bankruptcy the following year, abandoning Mr Trump’s many lenders and bondholders.
Mr. Trump explained his worldview in an interview with author Michael D’Antonio in 2014. “You can be tough and ruthless and all that stuff and if you lose a lot no one will follow you because you are seen as a loser” , he said. “Winning is a very important thing. The most important aspect of leadership is winning. If you have a success story, people will follow you. “
Mr Trump has often used the courts to try to destroy anyone who casts doubt on his or her Olympic standing in wealth and success. A standout feature in this category is the $ 5 billion lawsuit that he filed against journalist Timothy L. O’Brien, whose 2005 book TrumpNation: The Art of Being Donald argued that Mr Trump’s net worth was no more than $ 250 million – in other words, that he was not a billionaire.
Mr. O’Brien reported that Mr. Trump attributed the abyssal discrepancy to envy. “You can go ahead and talk to people who have 400-pound women at home,” said Mr. Trump, “but the people who really know me know that I’m a great builder.”
The lawsuit was dismissed.
Of course, Mr Trump’s need to be seen as a winner has informed his presidency. The self-proclaimed superlatives cover everything from “the best that ever happened to Puerto Rico” to the best for black Americans (with the “possible exception” of Abraham Lincoln). In anticipation of his possible impeachment this year, Mr. Trump described himself as “our greatest of all presidents”.
Perhaps the most famous moment this desire spilled over into public order was in late 2018 when Mr Trump took advantage of an impending government shutdown to request funding for one of his central fixations: a wall along the Mexican border.
After Mr Trump encouraged his Republicans in Congress to reach a compromise, Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, drew up a deal to avoid a shutdown and temporarily suspended negotiations on security measures, including a border wall.
It seemed like Mr. Trump would sign the deal – that is, until conservative experts accused the president of giving in to the Democrats, breaking his build the wall promise and effectively being a loser.
The president reversed course and started the longest federal government shutdown in the country’s history – at an estimated cost to the economy of $ 11 billion, according to the impartial budget bureau of Congress.
After Mr Trump was sworn in as the 45th President of the United States in January 2017, his administration claimed that, despite all evidence to the contrary, the inauguration audience was the largest ever. But any other suggestion would have made Mr. Trump a loser in an imaginary contest for the size of the first crowd.
Now, almost four years later, citizens have cast their votes, unsubstantiated claims for election fraud have been dismissed, and states have confirmed the vote. Even so, the 2020 presidential election loser continues to see crowds the rest of the country doesn’t see.
It ends as it began.
Russ Buettner, Susanne Craig and Mike McIntire contributed to the coverage.