The Donald: Today’s P.T. Barnum

  • The Washington Examiner
  • |
  • November 11, 2005

by Karen Feld

Donald Trump is not Bill Gates or Warren Buffet,” said Timothy O’Brien, a New York Times business reporter and author of the new book “TrumpNation: The Art of Being the Donald.” “Trump is a cartoonist’s version of P.T. Barnum.”

Trump maintains his magic mojo

O’Brien describes his book – with which Trump first cooperated and is now trying to kill – as the “story of how someone who is lighter than air becomes the most successful businessman in the U.S.” O’Brien calls Trump a “marketing machine and master at self-promotion.” The book examines American culture and the American business world as much as Trump himself. In his own defense, Trump has said the author “writes like an infantile [sic].”

“Trump openly acknowledged in the book that he suspected that his original business partners in the gambling business had Mafia ties,” O’Brien said. “He squandered billions of dollars of other people’s money, and he had a series of train wrecks in his business career, and yet, somehow, emerged as the guru to America’s apprentices.”

How real is ‘Apprentice’?

“Any journalist has a healthy dose of skepticism,” but O’Brien told me “I was surprised at the gap between image and reality.” There’s much speculation now as to whether NBC’s “The Apprentice” is doctored. “It’s not reality at all,” O’Brien says. “It’s akin to the quiz show scandals and will snowball into a significant story,” he predicts. For example, the first winning contestant, Bill Rancic, got his salary from NBC-TV – not from Trump, O’Brien says.

You, too, can be a billionaire. The book includes a series of quizzes and the address of the Trump organization, where you can mail your answers.

Jazzy White House

A legend of New Orleans, jazz pianist Allen Toussaint, entertained honoree Wynton Marsalis and a hundred-some other guests and arts and humanities honorees at the White House last night.

Va. Dems not amBushed

Political-watchers think that POTUS’ campaigning in Virginia not only didn’t help the Republicans but may have hindered them, especially among swing voters in the D.C. ‘burbs. The Democrats’ win in Virginia in Tuesday’s election helps Virginia Gov. Mark Warner‘s presidential ambitions. There’s talk of a Mark Warner-Hillary Clinton or Clinton-Warner ticket in ’08.

Candidate spams a lot

You’ve probably seen his fliers around D.C., but Jonathan Rees, a candidate for D.C.’s Ward 3 City Council seat, has apparently been making use of the Internet, too, by sending messages to blogs and listservs. “Rees has been spamming listservs throughout the city – and, oddly, around the country – promoting his campaign. He’s posted randomly and wildly on messages boards such as on Craigslist in Chicago; he’s posted campaign announcements under the personals, too. Rees has also been fabricating supporters to post on his behalf,” wrote Bill Adler, a moderator of the Cleveland Park listserv ( “From the perspective of the list moderators, Rees is a spammer, albeit an odd one. But a spammer is a spammer, and we’re going to continue to keep Rees and his aliases

off the Cleveland Park listserv.”

Rees said that the Cleveland Park listserv is the only one he approached that turned his listing down. “I get some good results and some insults,” Rees said. “Some might call it spam, but I call it political advertising. Howard Dean did it.”

Climbing the food chain

Local foodies are buzzing that Todd Kliman, Washingtonian magazine’s new dining editor, leaped above Tom Head, the magazine’s executive wine and food editor, on the masthead. While at the Washington City Paper, Kliman won the 2005 James Beard Foundation Award for the nation’s best newspaper column about food.

Leaving the prince off

Overheard at the World War II Memorial: One member of the National Park Service landscape maintenance crew – called in last week to blow leaves off the ground before the royal visitors arrived – telling another: “I think he’s the artist formerly called Prince.”

Sightings, sightings

Jalal Talabani, the president of Iraq, accompanied by lots of not-so-discreet security men both in and out of the kitchen, dining at the Palm Wednesday evening, making some patrons a little shaky. . . Former President Jimmy Carter with security entourage keeping in shape with a one-hour, 5 a.m. swimming workout at the Sports Club/LA last Friday. . . The Dick Cheneys slipping into Cafe Milano for dinner many Sunday evenings when they’re in town. . . Country crooner Willie Nelson pulling up to the Texas Road House in Chantilly on Wednesday afternoon in his fuel-efficient bus.

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