Donald John Trump (1946 - )

"The Donald". His name conjures up visions of the 1980s, greed, huge deals, and pompous billionaires. Recognized by 98% of the American public, Donald Trump's penchant for putting his name on everything he owns, and for owning some very impressive things, has made him the envy of millions. His willingness to put aside the little people in pursuit of his goals has made him hated by many. And his ability to come brazenly back from a crushing bankruptcy is cause to admire his resiliance.

Trump was born in New York City on June 14, 1946 to Fred and Mary Trump, the fourth of five children.

After military school he attended the Wharton School of Business. Upon graduation, Donald came back to New York to make (and lose, and make again) his fortune in real estate. His signature deals were large, very expensive, heavily leveraged projects with his name emblazoned all over. Trump Tower is probably the best example of this. This was a sharp contrast from his father Fred, who made his fortune in fairly pedestrian apartment buildings.

He's been married (and divorced) twice, first to Ivana Trump, and then to Marla Maples. The marriage to Ivana produced Donald Jr, Ivanka, and Eric. His fourth child, Tiffany, was born in 1993 during his marriage to Maples.

Still leading a very flamboyant and public life, Trump can usually be found hanging in NYC with a supermodel on one arm and a bad comb-over.


"I like thinking big. If you're going to be thinking anything, you might as well think big."

"A little more moderation would be good. Of course, my life hasn't exactly been one of moderation."

"A friend called me up the other day and talked about investing in a dot-com that sells lobsters. Internet lobsters. Where will this end? The next day he sent me a huge package of lobsters on ice. How low can you stoop?"

"What separates the winners from the losers is how a person reacts to each new twist of fate."


  • Trump: The Art of the Deal
  • Trump: The Art of Survival
  • Trump: Surviving at the Top
  • Trump: The Art of the Comeback
  • The America We Deserve

Donald Trump was a character in the 1980s comic strip Bloom County, and was roughly based on the real life Donald Trump. The story in the comic book was that Donald Trump, billionaire had been hit by the anchor of his yacht and needed to transplant his brain into the body of Bill the Cat, who was brain dead. This occurred in the last year of the strip, filling the last collection, Happy Trails. The humor, such as it was, came from the ridiculousness of a powerful billionaire's mind residing in the body of an oft-dead cat. The chance for Donald Trump's value system to clash with the gentle Opus the Penguin also led to some obvious possibilities. For example, on one occasion Opus philosophical comments that we are only really borrowing our possessions in our short time on earth, and Donald Trump is forced into near catatonia on taking this literally.

On the whole, I didn't like the addition of the character of Donald Trump, for much of the same reason that I find the later Bloom County to be less enjoyable than the early one. The early Bloom County was both imaginative and realistic, and dealt more heavily with character interaction. The later Bloom County grew increasingly surreal and full of pop culture trivia and reference, and the insertion of Donald Trump was part of that. However, something should also be said for hindsight from 2008. The reader of this has probably read, at least in passing, dozens of webcomics based on surreal and improbably premises. Twenty years ago, this was not the case. Upon opening our comics pages, we were mostly confronted with Hi and Lois, a comic strip about how the dad was lazy and liked to golf too much. Or we could read Bloom County, a strip where a plot line could revolve around the insertion of the mind of a celebrity billionaire into the body of a ex-cocaine addict cat who had run for president and died numerous times. In that context, inserting a real life person as a fictional character into a comic strip is a stroke of genius.

With the presidential elections a mere year and a half away it seems likely that Donald Trump will try and test the waters and seek the Republican Party’s nomination during the primaries. He’s been all over Fox News the past week or so and he seems to have fallen in with the so called birthers who question whether Barack Obama is even eligible to be the POTUS because of their claim that he wasn’t born in the United States.

He’s been embraced by the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck as sign of American “exceptionalism” and a role model for capitalism as we know it.

Here’s what I don’t get.

Besides the whole “birther” nonsense which was put to rest back in 2008 does anybody remember that Mr. Trump has filed for bankruptcy on at least three different occasions?

The first time was way back in 1991 when he found himself in the unfortunate situation of being unable to repay a business loan to the tune of 3.5 billion dollars. His banks and bondholders lost millions on the deal and stood to lose even more when they arrived at a compromise. They wound up giving him a lower interest rate and more time to repay the debt. In return, Mr. Trump gave his investors half the ownership of the Taj Mahal casino.

One might think that the trauma of going through bankruptcy proceedings would make one more cautious in future business dealings but in the case of Mr. Trump one would be wrong.

Less than a year later the Trump Plaza Hotel closed its doors and Mr. Trump was forced to go to the courts again. He worked out a similar deal where he ceded 49% of the hotel to Citibank and some of his other lenders. In return, he bought some time to repay the principal. Two years later his debt was paid off and he was back in business.

It took awhile but in 2004 Mr. Trump once again had to seek court protection from his creditors. This time it was for Trump & Casino Resorts. He wound up restructuring the company’s debt, reduced his ownership from 56% to 27%, wound up giving his bondholders stock to reduce his payments and resigned as CEO of the company. In 2005 the company remerged as Trump Entertainment Resort Holdings.

Too bad it didn’t last.

In February of 2009 on behalf of Trump Entertainment Resort Holdings he filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy citing a debt ratio of approximately $50 million dollars in assets against $500 million dollars in debt.

I’m sure many of us were touched by the whole sub prime mortgage and financial crisis of 2008 and Mr. Trump was no exception. It seems that sales at the Trump International Hotel and Tower were plummeting and he was in the pockets of Deutsche Bank to the tune of $40 million which he failed to repay.

He went to court and in some creative lawyering argued that the crisis itself was an Act of God and he didn’t have to repay the bank. (I’m sure the thousands upon thousands of home owners who were foreclosed on would like to argue the same thing.) He even went to far as to claim he had been slandered and initiated a countersuit against Deutsche Bank.

For what its worth, Deutsche Bank noted to the court that “Mr. Trump is no stranger to overdue debt” and cited his previous bankruptcy filings as evidence.

So, is “The Donald” sincere in his bid for the Presidency or is this just another way to keep his name in the headlines?

Only time will tell.


As an aside and maybe as a tweak to President Obama Mr. Trump recently posted a copy of his birth certificate on the internet for the whole world to see. Unfortunately, the copy that he provided was a ceremonial one issued by the hospital and did not contain the seal of the New York State Department of Health or the signature of the city registrar.

What say you Mr. Trump?

Update 2015

Mr. Trump has decided to seek the 2016 Republican nomination for President and as of this writing he leads in the polls despite some verbal gaffes that would have probably ended anybody else's bid for the nomination. Will he win? We shall see.

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