His Mother’s Son

“Looking back, I realize now that I got some of my sense of showmanship from my mother. She always had a flair for the dramatic and the grand. She was a very traditional housewife, but she also had a sense of the world beyond her. I still remember my mother, who is Scottish by birth, sitting in front of the television set to watch Queen Elizabeth’s coronation and not budging for an entire day. She was just enthralled by the pomp and circumstance, the whole idea of royalty and glamour. I also remember my father that day, pacing around impatiently. ‘For Christ’s sake, Mary,’ he’d say. ‘Enough is enough, turn it off. They’re all a bunch of con artists.’ My mother didn’t even look up. They were total opposites in that sense. My mother loves splendor and magnificence, while my father, who is very down-to-earth, gets excited only by competence and efficiency.”

—Donald Trump, The Art of the Deal



  1. John K. Wilson May 5, 2017 at 5:49 pm | #

    No, no, I think you’ve missed the point. Trump is his father’s son: He sees the world in terms of con artists, and he became the master con artist as a result. Trump loves the splendor because it is the tool of a con artist. And his father was a failure because he could only see through con artists and never become one. Trump might be the greatest con artist in history.

    • Theo May 5, 2017 at 7:38 pm | #

      I agree but I think you know, Professor, that he is a con artist. And Trump isn’t competent. He wasn’t competent before becoming president and he is not competent now that he is president, so he doesn’t take after his father in that respect. And his father wasn’t honest either. And Trump is definitely not honest. Yes, he no doubt takes after his mother with his Versailles on the Hudson complex.
      I agree with you, Professor, that he isn’t Hitler. But he is definitely a very nasty piece of work, in the way that most reactionaries are (and many non-reactionaries are for that matter). He’s a disaster. Ian Welsh has an apology for his readers today about Trump (what he got right, what he got wrong). See
      I have disagreed with Welsh about Trump as I believe no one with his history and personality was going to be good for the country in any respect because he is a liar and an incoherent liar at that, a racist, a misogynist, and totally strange. Whichever parent or other forebear or mentor contributed to his personality most, I couldn’t possibly say, but it would have been better for the country if he hadn’t been enabled time after time by his father, his mother no doubt, and so many others all along the way at every pivotal moment of his life.
      I was not a Clinton supporter because of how really awful she is and how really awful the Democrats are and voted Green. We didn’t have anyone to vote for in ’16.
      All of us need to learn to watch what they do not just what they say. If more people who vote Republican and Democratic could have done that and could do it now, and provided they see that what the politicians are selling is bad for everyone except the rich, we would finally have some real change in the country.

  2. xenon2 May 5, 2017 at 11:17 pm | #

    Still ‘shocked and awed’ by Trump?

    How much does the president have to do with the privatization of the world’s economies?

  3. mark May 6, 2017 at 5:18 am | #

    In ‘The Invention of Tradition’ (1983) there is a nice essay by David Cannadine looking at the monarchy’s myth-making which I’m sure has an account of the royal carriage Trump is reportedly so eager to travel in.

    Who would have thought it would all end in a durbar?

    Everyone decamp to Kedleston Hall for tiffin.

  4. Paul Rosenberg May 6, 2017 at 10:02 am | #

    So Trump takes after his mother, but pretends to be his father. He puts on a magnificent display of competence and efficiency, but it’s a transparent con–all adjectives and no nouns.

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