Admittedly, people evolve over time. It is possible. Old dogs do occasionally learn new tricks. Some soften and some harden on the issues. Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton told supporters and undecided voters she had evolved on the issue of gay marriage, and perhaps she did. It is always possible, especially as society changes.
However, one thing is certain — Donald Trump is the same Donald Trump he was 40 years ago, and it is safe to assume he will be the same tomorrow, unless he has a major come-to-Jesus meeting with the big guy himself (Mike Pence is trying to set that one up).
How do we know? Back in 1978, reporter Wayne Barrett wrote a profile on a much younger Donald Trump for the Village Voice, and that same magazine revisited that profile in 2015 and compared it to then Republican candidate Trump.
The 1978 story originally started as a story on real estate business deals. What he found was that in the middle of thousands upon thousands of records, Donald Trump regularly popped up. That was when he got the opportunity to speak to Trump — when Trump called him. Trump had heard someone was doing a story on him, and just like today, Trump made it known he knew who Barrett was in an attempt to intimidate him. Barrett had not reached out to Trump yet. What Barrett ended up writing in the end on Trump was not good. Village Voice wrote:
‘It was Trump’s way of letting him know he was keeping an eye on him, Barrett says. After all, the story he was working on, which would land Trump on our cover in January of 1979, wearing a sneer and a mop of brown hair, was the first detailed examination of Trump’s business practices to appear in the press. And the results weren’t pretty.’
After that first story, Barrett continued to cover Trump throughout his career.
What he seemed to have really learned throughout the decades of studying Trump was that Trump is just as much a liar now as he was back then. For example, Trump would have everyone believe he owns thousands upon thousands of glamorous properties around the globe. He also portrays himself as a builder. However, Barrett wrote back in 2011 that hadn’t been the case for the previous 10 years.
‘Everything is branding to Donald. He doesn’t really own much anymore. A couple of golf courses here and there, a building that he built 30 years ago. (But) he doesn’t own a great deal. What he does is market his name.’
Basically, Barrett wrote that Trump was great at hyping himself up, and indeed he did a good enough job that he won the presidency of the United States, and Trump supporters are some of the most loyal political supporters you could ever have.
Specifically in the 1978 article, Barrett wrote on two projects Trump was involved in. Those two projects included the Hyatt Hotel and the convention center on West Side (which was only an idea at the time). Funnily enough, Trump mentioned those two deals when he announced he was running for president. Trump said:
‘…I ventured into Manhattan and did a lot of great deals – the Grand Hyatt Hotel. I was responsible for the convention center on the West Side. I did a lot of great deals, and I did them early and young. I made it the old-fashioned way.’
However, what Barrett found in 1978 was that Trump’s success was from piggybacking off of his father’s connections and wealth.
‘But Barrett’s reporting paints a picture of Trump’s background that’s somewhat at odds with the one he paints for himself… the image of Trump that emerges from Barrett’s reporting is that of a scion of a wealthy family who got ahead, in large part, thanks to family connections – many of them political.’
Better yet, Trump’s response and interaction with Barrett was very much the same back then as it is now with the mainstream media. The Village Voice wrote:
‘Over the course of Barrett’s reporting, Trump tried to influence the process in various creative ways. He threatened to sue Barrett, of course. But Trump also apparently tried to bribe him, subtly hinting that he could get Barrett a nice apartment in midtown and move him and his wife out of the Brownsville home where they lived. As if they’d somehow arrived there by accident.’
Trying to influence the media? Sounds awfully familiar. This time around he got smarter and had the Russians do it (allegedly). That’s why there is a whole probe into collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government.
When Barrett continued on with the story, Trump refused to speak to Barrett — even when he was working on Trump’s biography. The only difference between that and now is the fact that Trump simply refuses to work with any media outlet other than Fox News and calls them names; the failing New York Times for instance.
What does the comparison of the 1978 and 2015 articles offer to us now in 2017 during a Trump presidency? It offers us a dim reality, and it should serve as a wake-up call and slap in the face to the people who thought Trump would become more presidential. Trump is Trump. Trump was Trump in 1978 and Trump will be that same Trump in 2017 right on through to 2020 unless he resigns or is kicked out of office.
Featured image by Chris Kleponis-Pool/Getty Images.