The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Opinion A biographer sums up Donald Trump in a single, devastating 210-word sentence

Journalist Timothy O'Brien, author of "TrumpNation: The Art of Being the Donald," breaks down the GOP candidate in the new introduction to his book.

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Journalist Timothy O’Brien is the author of “TrumpNation: The Art of Being the Donald,” a 2005 book that prompted a $5 billion lawsuit from Donald Trump for daring to argue that the real estate developer was not a billionaire but merely a millionaire a few hundred times over. A superior court judge in New Jersey dismissed the suit in 2009, and that decision was affirmed on appeal two years later.

There is no love lost between O’Brien and Trump, who has disparaged the journalist as “a whack job, a total nut job . . . one of the sleaziest people I’ve ever done business with.” And now that Trump is the biggest story going in American politics, O’Brien is coming out with a new edition of the book, including an introduction that reflects on the Trump presidential campaign. O’Brien refers to the candidate as “Mr. Id” and cites Trump’s “vivid ignorance” of world affairs, his “Jurassic grasp” of international economics, his “bro-hemian” distaste for certain women, his “plantation owner’s approach to ‘us’ versus ‘them,’ ” and his “almost pathological tendency to make up a lot of stuff all of the time.”

O’Brien, a former New York Times editor and now executive editor of Bloomberg View, also starts off his introduction with a remarkable sentence, one that attempts to capture all of the glory and squalor that is the Donald Trump brand, whether in business or politics. Take a deep breath:

Once upon a time — long before The Apprentice and the golf courses and the TRUMP-branded-underwear-vodka-mattresses-steaks-wine-and-who-knows-what-else and the questionable online education venture and the choreographed wrestling farces and the phallic skyscrapers and the sprawling casinos and the boxing matches and the magazine covers and the beauty pageants and the fisticuffs with City Hall and the serial bankruptcies and the bungled real estate deals and the yacht and the airline and the shady, thuggish business partners and the three marriages and the football team and the 2016 presidential race and the size of his Trump junk and the litany of DOPES! and LOSERS! and the guerrilla takeover of GOP debates and the flagrant race-baiting and the Great Wall of Mexico and the proposals for deporting eleven million people and the 6.6 million Facebook friends and and the seven million Twitter followers and the brawls at political rallies and the flip-flopping on abortion and the punishments for abortions and the nuclear weapons for Japan and South Korea and the white supremacists and Megyn Kelly’s menstrual cycle and John McCain’s war record and Hillary Clinton getting schlonged and Barack Obama’s birth certificate and Mitt Romney’s kneeling — Donald set his sights on Hollywood.
–Timothy O’Brien, introduction to “TrumpNation”

O’Brien better be careful about another lawsuit: Since this sentence was originally written, Trump’s Facebook page has exceeded eight million “likes,”while his Twitter followers now surpass 8.7 million. Sloppy!

This lengthy sentence is an impressive distillation of Trump, but also one that cries out to be constantly updated. Surely Trump’s attacks on Judge Gonzalo Curiel would merit a line, for instance?

The new edition of “TrumpNation” is forthcoming from Grand Central Publishing on June 14.

Read more from Book Party, including:

I just binge-read eight books by Donald Trump. Here’s what I learned.

Donald Trump: vain, greedy and all-American

How Donald Trump plays the press, in his own words

Donald Trump on women, sex, marriage and feminism