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23. Because Donald Trump Finally Became the Joke We Always Knew He Was. And It’s a Pretty Funny One.

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Illustration by Karen Caldicott  

It can be hard to explain to others just what one sees in a person: the purse of the lips, the nuances of hair and gait, the accent. For years, this has been the way it has been with New Yorkers and Donald Trump. People from elsewhere just didn’t understand our feelings for him—they saw him merely as a suit, a business guy who’d become a TV personality, someone who was successful. Oh, what they were missing. But then, slowly, and then quickly, the real Trump appeared. It may have started at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner last year, the way his bright-orange comb-over perched on top of his glum visage (Seth Meyers likened it to a fox sitting on his head) as Barack Obama praised the then-presidential candidate’s “credentials and breadth of experience” and leadership skills, demonstrated by his firing of Gary Busey on The Celebrity Apprentice. “Well handled, sir,” said the president. And then this fall, his ardent pursuit of a campaign role produced a series of unforgettable moments—one that brought Trump, a proud New York City birth-certificate holder, fully into the American family. Over the summer, Trump promised something really big for the Republican convention in Tampa—although the Romney campaign seemed to be holding these cards very close to its vest. Then came his endlessly teased press conference in October, the promise of a big, campaign-shaking announcement. What could it be? Because New Yorkers know that when Trump says big, he means big, as big as a black-marble midtown tower with big brass letters spelling his name. Finally, the moment arrived. Chopping with his hands, his face in that familiar pro-wrestling grimace, Trump told us the deal he was prepared to make: $5 million to charity if Obama would release his college records and passport applications. Five million dollars? With that proud sum, the world could finally take his measure. It was the kind of money and cavalier gesture that brought to mind a much less serious Sheldon Adelson. A much poorer one, too. That’s our Trump—and now, America knows him, too.


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