In the Chicago Tribune, Minnesotan Garrison Keillor, recently retired from his Prairie Home Companion radio show, tries to explain Donald Trump:
Special To The Washington Post
… And The New York Times treats you like the village idiot. This is painful for a Queens boy trying to win respect in Manhattan where the Times is the Supreme Liberal Jewish Anglican Arbiter of Who Has The Smarts and What Goes Where. When you came to Manhattan 40 years ago, you discovered that in entertainment, the press, politics, finance, everywhere you went, you ran into Jews
I don’t actually think that it took Donald Trump until age 30 to learn about Jews.
, and they are not like you: Jews didn’t go in for big yachts
Garrison Keillor evidently doesn’t spend a lot of time in Florida. He probably found War Dogs confusing: Why isn’t this movie about Dick Cheney? What is this movie about anyway?
and a fleet of aircraft — they showed off by way of philanthropy or by raising brilliant offspring. They sympathized with the civil rights movement. In Queens, blacks were a threat to property values — they belonged in the Bronx, not down the street. To the Times, Queens is Cleveland. Bush league. You are Queens.
And clearly no Jews ever lived in Fred Trump’s apartments in Forest Hills, Brighton Beach, or Coney Island. The reason Fred pretend to be Swedish instead of German to his racist tenants who didn’t want their neighborhoods turning black was that he only rented to, uh, Texans.
The casinos were totally Queens, the gold faucets in your triplex, the bragging, the insults, but you wanted to be liked by Those People.
Because there weren’t any of Those People in Queens when Trump grew up there.
Actually, Keillor might be onto an interesting social distinction without knowing enough or having the bravery to follow it up.
Clearly, contra Keillor, Trump’s persona is highly Jewish in affect. But perhaps Keillor isn’t thinking about Jewish-Americans in general, but instead is obsessing about one particular varietal: the old money German-Jewish high society who wouldn’t let Eastern European Jews into their country clubs because of their cruder manners.
There is a reasonable possibility that Trump didn’t encounter until he was an adult many of the more refined German-Jewish Our Crowd elite, like the Sulzbergers. I don’t know if it’s true, but that’s an interesting possibility that a better-informed observer than Keillor might be able to do something with.
You wanted Mike Bloomberg to invite you to dinner at his townhouse. You wanted the Times to run a three-part story about you, that you meditate and are a passionate kayaker and collect 14th-century Islamic mosaics. You wish you were that person but you didn’t have the time.
Actually, I don’t think Trump cares at all about being seen as an SWPL.
Trump has an on-the-noseness that’s averse to SWPL irony and pretense. Consider: Kayaking or golf? Which would seem more fashionable for Trump to do?
Clearly, golf is going out of fashion as the public gets poorer and more stressed for time.
Except that the really big guys in Trump’s orbit — the last four presidents, say, or Mike Bloomberg, Bill Gates, and Warren Buffett — are fanatical golfers. Heck Bill Clinton is a member of Trump’s golf club. The idea of pretending to care about a sport other than golf so that he would look fashionable in the Times simply doesn’t occur to Trump. Presidents play golf.
I do know what Trump passionately cares about, which is to get to host the U.S. Open and the British Open on Trump brand golf courses. He’s gotten the women’s version of each, but not the men’s Opens yet.
In that field, Trump has laboriously taught himself over the years how to talk about golf courses in the vocabulary of USGA and the Royal & Ancient. He’s learned that fake waterfalls don’t go over well with the tastes of the USGA. His two Trump National Bedminster courses near the USGA headquarters in New Jersey were designed from the ground up to win over the USGA to host the US Open.
But he also can’t stop himself from giving his opinion. For example, when the USGA went nuts a couple of years ago with their state of the art aesthetic by playing the USGA at a Pinehurst where half the sprinklers had been ripped out so the course was mostly brown, Trump tweeted that it looked awful. The USGA guys were mad about Trump saying the emperor had no clothes.
Trump is risking a lot by running for President. He got hammered by the golf tours a year ago for saying that Mexico wasn’t sending its best. His standing up to the golf tours and taking a big hit rather than apologize was a surprise: it showed he was serious.
Running for president is your last bid for the respect of Manhattan. If you were to win election, they couldn’t ridicule you anymore. They could be horrified, but there is nothing ridiculous about being Leader of the Free World. You have B-52 bombers at your command. When you go places, a battalion of security guys comb the environs. You attract really really good speechwriters who give you Churchillian cadences and toss in quotes from Emerson and Aeschylus and Ecclesiastes.
Nah. While Trump has attracted one really good speechwriter, Stephen Miller doesn’t bother much with the kind of stuff Ted Sorensen stuck into speeches to make the Kennedy Brothers sound smart. Instead, Miller seems focused on introducing new arguments into American public life and Trump seems focused on making them understandable to voters. It’s a difficult combination to pull off, but they seem to be getting better at it.
Labor Day and it is not going well. You had a very bad month. …
It got better at the end.
Anyway, as several commenters have noted in the comments below, Keillor appears to be projecting some of his own provincial status insecurities onto Trump, which isn’t a good fit. I believe Keillor tried living in New York for a number of years, but then returned to St. Paul where he can be a very big fish in a small pond.
Trump may just not be a good subject for writers, so they wind up projecting a lot onto him.