Meeting young Mr. Trump

by Robin Harris on Thursday, 30 June, 2016

Back in 1980 I met Donald Trump. He came to a finance class to talk about real estate finance.

I have no recollection of his talk. But I DO remember the visit and, given what I’ve read about Mr. Trump, some readers may find my recollection an interesting footnote.

To set the scene, this was a graduate MBA course in finance, at a top business school – Wharton – with maybe a couple of dozen almost all male students in the class.

Trump was then about 12 years out of Wharton undergrad, and had notched a major success with the Grand Hyatt in mid-town Manhattan in 1976. Trump partnered with the Pritzker family on that project, and after a falling out, sold his half for $140 million in 1996.

What WAS memorable was that he brought a tall, slim, blond. He introduced her as his wife Ivana and a former Czech Olympic skier (evidently not true). Mrs. Trump spent the entire time with a deer in the headlights look, as if someone might ask her about finance.

No one did.

The StorageMojo take
Maybe the professor thought Mr. Trump would say something useful. Or he wanted a day off.

In retrospect though, the only reason to bring Ivana was as a prop. Given that Mr. Trump had actually pulled off a major success in the tough Manhattan real estate market, that was unnecessary.

Draw your own conclusions about what this says about the young Mr. Trump. Based on what I’ve seen of the old Mr. Trump, he would be a disaster for America and the world as President of the United States of America. There’s a reason we rarely elect business people as Presidents: politics requires totally different skills.

Courteous comments welcome, of course. Yes, this is off-topic for StorageMojo. Back to our regularly unscheduled programming soon.

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Andy Lawrence July 5, 2016 at 9:24 am

While certainly off-topic, you are entitled to a political opinion and free to use your forum to do as you see fit. As a conservative, I have some serious reservations about voting for Mr. Trump. I agree with you that having him as president might cause some serious problems for our country.

Unfortunately, this election is about choosing the lesser of two evils. If the Democrats had a candidate that I thought was one bit less of a disaster than Trump might be, then I would vote for them. But Hillary Clinton is an even bigger disaster waiting to happen than Trump.

Robin Harris July 5, 2016 at 10:21 am

Andy, I’m not totally enamored of Mrs. Clinton either. I think America has been far too involved militarily in places that are not strategic to our national interest – which began with Viet Nam – and prefer a less muscular foreign policy than Mrs. Clinton seems to favor. But of the two, it seems almost indisputable that Clinton is much less likely to do something disastrous. But, of course, the voters will decide.

Victor Engle July 7, 2016 at 1:44 pm


I couldn’t agree more. Since you wrote about Mr. Trump, I hope it’s okay if I share a project I’m working on. It’s a Trump Speech Bot. It’s a python script that generates a random speech from a sqlite3 database that I’ve loaded with sentences from Trump speech transcripts. It’s kinda fun to waste time with. You can find it here…

Chris Fricke July 11, 2016 at 7:30 am

There may be many reasons for Trump to be unqualified or “disastrous” to America as a President. Bringing his wife to a financial lecture in 1980 probably doesn’t qualify. But hey, we now know that you, at one point, took notice of tall attractive blonde women so… good on you!

Charlie D August 25, 2016 at 2:47 pm

Let’s see, is your concern about Mr. Trump a matter of what might be disastrous for America or what might be disastrous for American liberals?

I estimate that 1976 was the first US presidential election in which you were eligible to vote, please correct me if I am wrong. There have been 10 presidential elections since then.

Are you willing to tell us in how many of these you voted for the Republican candidate?

Robin Harris August 25, 2016 at 3:07 pm

Charlie, clearly, Mr. Trump would be a disaster for all Americans, liberals and conservatives alike. After he trashes our credit rating, abrogates our treaties, destroys our claim to the moral high ground, and invites Russia to build a new empire, China will be the only remaining superpower. He has the attention span of a flea and is so ignorant that he can’t even conceive of what he doesn’t know.

Given the number of conservatives, especially Republicans in the national security sphere, and two former Republican Presidents, who have disavowed Mr. Trump, plenty of conservatives agree with me.

Personally, I favor evidence-based public policy that advances the entire nation, per the Constitution’s charge that the government “promote the general welfare”. Since reality has a liberal bias, I tend liberal, but I’m open to argument. You should try making one sometime.

Charlie D August 25, 2016 at 5:13 pm

Well an argument then, on the points you seem to care about per your response.

Obama has been worse news for our credit rating than Bush-43 was per the US national debt. Obama has added $6.5T to the total, Bush-43 added $5.9T and he fought a war in his administration. This doesn’t include the $3.5T added to the Federal Reserve’s balance sheet in Obama’s time by his appointees, also debt.

You mention you were opposed to the Vietnam war and express concern about abrogating our treaties. The US was signatory to the 1954 SEATO treaty which required the defense of South Vietnam, you can google it and read article 4. Assuming your concern for our treaties is genuine, how do you square historic and continuing liberal opposition to the Vietnam war and wasn’t it an express abrogation of the SEATO treaty, which a democrat led senate approved 82-1?
As for Russia, where is Obama in preventing the continuing Russian land grab in Ukraine, Russia’s defense of their buddy Assad, or Russian incursions into Estonian air space (in violation of our NATO treaty, btw)? Russia is already re-establishing its empire, why aren’t you calling out Obama?

As for China becoming the superpower, and your apparent assumption that Trump would cause us lose our current status, your assertion flies in the face of Obama and the left’s continued reduction and over use of the overworked US military. Why is Obama not stopping China from threatening free navigation of the seas with activities in the South China Sea? Army generals have recently told congress that Obama’s cuts have reduced our ability to fight even one major war. Might China’s ascendancy be related to that? How can you be concerned about what Trump might do compared with what Obama, and his erstwhile secretary of state Clinton, have already done?

The rest of your note is just ad homonym attack of Trump, anybody can call people names, it means nothing.

My question stands. Have you ever voted for a Republican for president? It demonstrates your dislike of Trump is political partisanship.

Robin Harris August 26, 2016 at 10:52 am

Charlie, we aren’t debating Mr. Obama’s record here. He isn’t running for President. However, like most Americans, I approve of the job he’s done overall, especially, in foreign policy, his rejection of the Beltway consensus that America needs to intervene in disputes all over the world. Which, BTW, contradicts your assertion that Obama has overused the military. True, the budget compromise’s mandatory sequestration has hurt the military, but that’s because the Tea Party Republicans in the house refuse to compromise over budget issues. They don’t seem to get that the Constitution intended for factions to compromise, and their efforts to shut down the government and default on the national debt are irresponsible in the extreme, and are seen as such, even here in conservative Arizona.

Your assertions about America’s credit rating are foolish. If you believed in markets, instead of fantasies, you’d note that the US Treasury Bills (debt issued by the government backed by the full faith and credit of the greatest nation on earth) are effectively offering 0% interest, which does not support your assertion that America’s credit rating has been damaged. If you and the Tea Party believed in America’s future, why would you not let the world loan us money for free so we could rebuild our freeways, power grids, schools, ports and other infrastructure? Oh, you don’t believe in America’s future, that those investments will more than pay for themselves? Got it, Mr. America’s-best-days-are-behind-it.

Viet Nam was a civil war, not a foreign invasion. The thing about civil wars is that people have to figure it out for themselves. External powers can’t impose a lasting peace. Same with religious wars – check out the bloody 30 Years War – which is what is happening in the Islamic world today.

Russia: we’ve imposed harsh sanctions on Russia, which are hurting Putin and his oligarch buddies, and making it very hard for him to incorporate the Crimea – you know, that place Trump didn’t know was part of the Ukraine? – into Russia, with the result that the people of Crimea aren’t happy with Putin.

China: the US Navy is regularly traversing the South China Sea – which needs a new name – to protect freedom of the seas. You have a better idea?

But there’s a larger problem with Mr. Trump’s – and your – cartoonish worldview: America has a population of 330 million, between 1/4th and 1/5th that of China. In order for us to be competitive throughout the 21st century, we need to draw on the rest of the world’s population to ensure our science, technology and economy remains competitive. To do that we need to be seen as a country that welcomes the best and the brightest from the rest of the world, no matter their color, religion or sexual orientation. Trump’s appeal to America’s shrinking white demographic runs counter to America’s self-interest.

Evidently, Mr. Trump has no vision of what America’s long-term self-interest is, since he recklessly suggested defaulting on the national debt and abandoning NATO allies, among other dangerous and stupid ideas. Face it, he can’t even run a decent convention or presidential campaign, let alone sell steaks. Why would anyone trust him to run the greatest country on earth?

So, Charlie, why don’t you make a positive case for Mr. Trump as leader of the free world, instead of assuming, falsely, that he couldn’t screw things up any worse than they are now. Remember Jesse Ventura? Trump would be way worse.

Gerry September 12, 2016 at 4:26 am

“destroys our claim to the moral high ground”

I do hope he ends that claim, but he probably won’t.

Since you already lost the moral high ground decades ago, the claim has become so hollow it’s time to abandon it.

One of many examples:

Robin Harris September 23, 2016 at 7:37 pm

Gerry, America does all kinds of things that sacrifice the high ground. The saving grace is that our competitors do worse.


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