From The Archives

Dishing on “The Donald” — The Warning America Didn’t Heed

In 1990 the Voice Literary Supplement featured a short review of an Ivana Trump bio. All the boorishness we’ve come to expect from President Trump was already on display.


It was July of 1990 and the Voice Literary Supplement was reviewing a bevy of trashy beach reads. S.B. Whitehead’s brilliant cover illustration featured Donald Trump at his early-Nineties nadir — selling his yacht to pay off debts, his casino going bankrupt, his airline crashing, his wife dishing dirt. As it turns out, this witty cartoon was just another early warning that America didn’t heed.

In contributor Ralph Sassone’s review of Norma King’s Ivana Trump: A Very Unauthorized Biography, we learn that the book only really gets interesting when the author “gloms on to the surfaces that make the name Trump synonymous with vulgar materialism.” Yep, 26 years before the election of 2016, even a mediocre, quickie bio was giving us an accurate portrait of “the philanderer [Ivana] once called, with Slavic affection, ‘The Donald.’ ” Here we get hints of the bottomless crassness we’ve since come to expect from the 45th POTUS — Trump Tower doormen costumed like “South American generals on dress-parade,” the Marla Maples affair — seen through the eyes of his increasingly estranged first wife.

As is often the case here at Archives Central, we are struck by the serendipitous collisions of history and how they resonate with the present. Whitehead’s illo shared front-page real estate with a headline for a feature on the savings and loan debacle that occurred under the first President Bush — an instance of white-collar criminals beating the rap that would be echoed in the crash of 2008, which occurred under the second President Bush. And yes, one of these days we’ll post the story about Ralph Nader in Moscow — just what was the presidential spoiler of 2000 up to back then, we wonder.

In the meantime, enjoy some great, funny graphics. And weep for America.