For the past few months it has become clear that Donald Trump was foreshadowed in 1941 with the publication of What Makes Sammy Run? Schulberg, most famous for his script of “On The Waterfront” 15 years later, described a Brooklyn man who relocated to Hollywood and became a producer/writer – all based on his insatiable drive and his ruthless ability to manipulate and discard others.
Donald Trump is about to do his third debate, and pundits are predicting he’ll throw everything at Hillary Clinton but the kitchen sink. So I thought I’d offer a few quotes from “Sammy” to whet our appetites:
“He was the smartest and stupidest human being I’d ever met. He had a quick intelligence, which he was able to use exclusively for the good and welfare of Sammy Glick. And that kind of intelligence implies stupidity. Where other people might have one blind spot, Sammy’s mind was a mass of blind spots, with only a single ray of light focused immediately ahead.”
People call Trump’s blind spots arrogance, narcissism, sociopathic, and alexithymia. All true. But Schulberg makes Trump come alive as literature, as he described Sammy’s journey to adulthood:
“He was coming into his own special brand of maturity. No mellowing, no deepening of understanding. Maturity to Sammy merely meant the quickening and the strengthening of the rhythm of behavior that was beginning to disconcert everybody who came into contact with it. Because he seemed to escape all of the doubts, the pimpled sensitivity, the introspectionism, the mental and the physical growing pains of adolescents, he was able to throw off his youth and take on the armor of young man hood with the quick changing ease of course girl.”
We all know by now that Trump disconcerted his family, his schoolmates, and his teachers as a child. His parents sent him away to military academy when he was twelve. He emerged at eighteen, having learned how to keep his impulses to fight more under control while simultaneously enjoying expressing himself with every woman he thought worthy.
Schulberg describes how Sammy’s face reflected his character – something also reminiscent of Trump: “His face gave the impression of arrogance and a fierce aggressiveness which, when u included the determination of the pointed forward-thrust chin, produced a face that reminded you of an army, full of force, strategy, single will and the kind of courage that boasts of never taking a backward step.”
Let the games begin – we never answer the question of what makes Sammy run. And now the term “run” has double meaning – function as well as run for President. What we do know describes and also predicts Trump’s behavior – past, present, and future. Sammy’s philosophy is Trump’s blueprint for tonight’s Debate III:
“Work hard, and, if you can’t work hard, be smart; and, if you can’t be smart, be loud.”
The only thing Trump would add is, “Be menacing.”