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Hullabaloo


Thursday, October 06, 2016

 

Wacked enough for the Stern pack

by Tom Sullivan


Howard Stern. Photo by Bill Norton. CC 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

Living out here in the provinces and not a voracious consumer of popular media, I only know about "The Howard Stern Show" from stumbled-upon web clips and news references. So the Politico story about Donald Trump's appearances on the show in the 1990s and early aughts provide a glimpse both into how the show worked and how Stern made Trump the publicity hound work for the show—becoming, at least implicitly, another in Stern's cast of carnies. "Call him 'Donald the Douchebag,'” suggests Virginia Heffernan, echoing the disparaging nicknames Stern gave to members of his oddball "Wack Pack":

Today, as the Republican nominee, he may fashion himself as a boss and a master of the universe. But what comes across in old tapes of the show, resurfaced recently by BuzzFeed and other outlets, is that Trump, like many of Stern’s guests, was often the one being played. By nailing him as a buffoon and then—unkindest cut—forcing him to kiss the Howard Stern ring, Stern and his co-anchor, Robin Quivers, created a series of broadcasts that today showcase not just Trump’s misogyny but his ready submission to sharper minds.
Plus Trump's ill-fated quest to be a legend in his own. That need is still on display in every rally Trump holds in his run for president.
The members of the Wack Pack, however, were at least groomed to believe they were in on Stern’s joke. The shrewder among them (“Hank the Angry Drunken Dwarf,” say) even were in on the joke, and managed to parlay Stern’s brutal hazing into some legit show biz moments.

Trump, however, was not in the on the joke.
One wonders if Trump's bumbling need for fame and domination is all about daddy issues.

Kurt Eichenwald has another piece at Newsweek detailing from available records the series of calamitous business decisions that only failed to destroy Trump the self-styled, "self-made" business genius because his daddy bailed him out. Unable to control his spending in the late 70s and early 80s (how could he control the country's?), Trump was in trouble long before his nearly one billion-dollar 1995 loss. Eichenwald writes:
No one could withstand these types of losses given the comparatively paltry amount of money available to offset them. So Trump took the same route he did for the rest of that decade and in decades to come: He borrowed more to keep himself afloat. Apparently, no bank would lend him additional amounts, so he turned to his father to rescue him. On September 24, 1980, Fred Trump arranged for a series of loans totaling $7.5 million to his son, which Donald Trump used to pay down some of the debt on his personal credit line. That same day, one of the Trump family’s companies, Trump Village Construction Corporation, lent Donald Trump an additional $976,238. All of the loans could be paid back at any time, and Donald Trump was not liable for any of the interest payments on them. Again, the rich are different.
Kevin Drum wonders the same thing:
It's kind of sad, really: Donald Trump has lived his entire life in the shadow of his father's success. Everything he's done has been one long, desperate attempt to prove to himself and the world that he's as successful as Fred Trump—who really was a self-made man. He never found that success, though, and running for president is his final, most audacious attempt to win his father's respect. Unfortunately, like all the others, it's doomed to failure—and not just because he's likely to lose in November. His problem runs much deeper than that. He's never looked in the right place.
As you may have read, Trump's dressing down by Barack Obama at the 2011 White House Correspondents’ Association dinner may have driven Trump to run for president this year:
That evening of public abasement, rather than sending Mr. Trump away, accelerated his ferocious efforts to gain stature within the political world. And it captured the degree to which Mr. Trump’s campaign is driven by a deep yearning sometimes obscured by his bluster and bragging: a desire to be taken seriously.
At the dinner, he couldn't take a joke. On the Stern show, he wasn't in on it that he was the joke, "a kind of humorless George Hamilton figure—a lecherous has-been measuring his march to the grave in New York Post mentions." On Saturday Night Live, Trump couldn't tell one.

Get out there and vote, people. Take your friends. Don't let the last laugh be on you.