Like all serious bloggers, I have been struggling to comprehend the Trump phenomenon. This afternoon, as I was reflecting on the reports of the Iowa State Fair -- the life size sculpture of a cow in butter, the porkchops on a stick, the rides for kids in the Trump helicopter -- it suddenly struck me where I had encountered Donald Trump before. He is the real-life embodiment of the fictional character Eliphaz in Paul Goodman's wonderful 1959 novel Empire City. Eliphaz is the literary embodiment of the art of the deal, a man capable of trading the dinner table out from under his family as they are enjoying supper, an entrepreneur who, when love swells in his heart as he looks at his son framed in the dying sunlight streaming through the window of their Central Park West apartment, inches closer to catch a look at the price tag. For Eliphaz, as Goodman "explains," there is only exchange value, no use value.
That is Donald Trump to perfection. It is utterly fruitless to try to extract from Trump a "program." He will say anything, literally anything, to close the deal, and like all good salesmen, he forgets what he has promised the moment the contract is signed. In novels, such characters get their comeuppance before the last page is turned. we shall see whether the great American public is a discerning reader.