The Trump Files: Donald Perfectly Explains Why He Doesn’t Have a Presidential Temperament

“The important thing is the getting…not the having.”

Ivylise Simones

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.


Until the election, we’re bringing you “The Trump Files,” a daily dose of telling episodes, strange but true stories, or curious scenes from the life of GOP nominee Donald Trump.

“I think I have the best temperament or certainly one of the best temperaments of anybody that’s ever run for the office of president. Ever,” said Donald Trump in July. “Because I have a winning temperament. I know how to win.”

But in Trump’s second book, Surviving at the Top (released as Trump’s empire was crumbling under massive debt in 1990), he described his temperament in ways that wouldn’t seem to bode well for a leader of the free world. “I get bored too easily,” he wrote. “My attention span is short and probably my least favorite thing to do is to maintain the status quo. Instead of being content when everything is going fine, I start getting impatient and irritable.”

He also explained how he enjoyed the thrill of the chase more than anything else. “For me, you see, the important thing is the getting…not the having,” he explained.

It was a rare moment of introspection from the billionaire, but he clearly wasn’t the only one who noticed his blow-it-up streak. Trump also described a conversation he had with his friend Alan Greenberg, then the head of Bear Stearns, when Trump was pondering selling his over-the-top yacht to finance the construction of an even bigger one. “For you, getting these isn’t half the fun, it’s almost all the fun,” Greenberg replied, according to Trump. “You set out to achieve something, you get what you are after, and then you immediately start singing that old Peggy Lee song ‘Is That All There Is?'”

In Donald’s mind, Greenberg had nailed him. “Alan was right about that,” he wrote. “If you have a striving personality, the challenge matters most, not the reward.”

Read the rest of “The Trump Files”:

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest