Diary

The Many Sweethearts of Donald Trump

I have a casual, shrugging antipathy toward Donald Trump. Not a seething hatred, not a dumbfounded loathing. No, it’s a shrugging antipathy.

I don’t get him, and I don’t really get people that do.

Of course, this isn’t a new affliction. I’ve had it for years, ever since Donald McDonald’s mugging mug first glowered out from the cover of The Art of the Deal. As the baby to a Jewish Mother, I can say (without nonchalance) that I have no truck with bullies –and Trump is nothing if not a bully–, and I also harbor a moderate disdain for those who feel somehow entitled or smugly superior.

Donald Trump is, in a word, “classless”. Take a look at his garish casinos, his gilded corporate jets, his gold-plated estates and penthouses. They all look like Caligula on the Hudson. Saddam Hussein’s interior decorator had nuthin’ on Trump. The Donald  has zero (and I mean zero) taste, no quiet humbleness of spirit. For a man with his own line of dress-suits, Trump’s look like they were off-the-peg and tailored by Wally’s Alterations out at 809 1/2 Main Street,  East Orange, NJ.– In short, he ain’t no Johnny Carson. His study in aesthetics is somewhere between Walmart Meets the Romanovs and a mobster funeral.

As a brand, I guess all of this is fine. He is a brand. Kinda like Colonel Sanders.

Donald Trump fits in somewhere in the American pantheon, right next to Madman Muntz and Jim Bakker. Unlike Tammy Faye’s husband, though, you can’t really call him a liar in a malevolent sense. I don’t think he makes it a practice to defraud investors claiming Jesuit-like Christian piety, and then retiring to his 1000-thread-count-duvet-covers and air-conditioned doghouses.

But, there is a clever, mischievous prevaricative arrogance about Trump that really strikes me as sickly manipulative and dangerous if it’s ever introduced on a broad, public  scale. Say, in the White House.

For example, he claims that he’s only declared bankruptcy  “a couple, two, three times”. That’s two or three more times than most anyone I know. And it’s not even “he” that has gone bankrupt: It’s been amorphous “corporate entities and partners” that did so. No one can sew a corporate veil tighter than a scheming billionaire and his battalions of attorneys.

Meanwhile, the lowly H-VAC guy with the $9,340.24 lien against the Trump Tower in Pissonyou, New Jersey is stuck holding Trump’s bag.

As I say, I don’t like bullies. Americans, for the most part, don’t like bullies, either.

Mr. Trump likes to say (regarding his bankruptcies) that “He was only using the laws of this country” in “protecting his interests”. Well, it’s an interesting turn of a phrase, if nothing else. Speaking as one without a Tower named after myself, I “follow” the law– I don’t “use” the law. It is especially troublesome coming from someone who is seeking an office that “following” the law is (at least in theory) sacrosanct.

Like Donald Trump, Barack Obama “uses” the “laws of this country”, too. Boy, does he use them. One might, in fact, call him a “user“. I really don’t want a practiced “user” of the laws in an office where his main job is to “follow” them.

But, one might expect this from a real-estate developer– especially a New York real estate developer. Their main job is to slither and ooze around trying to bend this zoning ordinance, pay off that township board with goodies, back-slap the building-code authorities, fib a little to the banks. Get the lessees in the door and paying rent, forget all the rest. Developers develop.

Hey: I’m second to no one in my loathing of governmental regulation at all levels, but I’m not aware that Donald Trump ever put much muscle behind ending stultifying building, labor, financial or environmental laws. Mostly, it seems he’s put his efforts behind playing or manipulating them.

I once sat on a governing board of a municipal “Tax Increment Financing Authority” as a trustee. As beget a solid, mid-western town, the planning geniuses thought a certain corn-field abutting a rail-spur near the corporate limits was a natural place for a so-called “industrial park” (as Stalin-esque a term as can be envisioned)– especially since they’d earlier run a 16-inch water main out to the property years before anticipating growth that never happened.

A classic case of Government rushing into to put out the fire they’d started, I guess: The City put in the water-main out to the corn-field –which they couldn’t pay for out of current revenue– so, they built an Industrial Park, complete with curb and gutter-pans, paving and lighting– which they then couldn’t pay for… so they agreed to abate away the projected property tax recapture if someone —anyone– would come in and build —develop— in their industrial park, and on and on and on.

By the time I joined the TIFA board, they were scratching about, trying to find tenants. Developers sent proposals occasionally, and each demanded that we abate property taxes on a deeper schedule than was instituted when the park was incorporated. As a board, we had a little latitude —very little.

Eventually, most of the park was sold to an automotive jobber, and things turned around.

Most of the park, that is.

A corner of it was sold to a developer who arranged a sweetheart deal, and who promised to build a smallish plant for a company that was planning to make lawn furniture out of discarded plastic milk jugs. Uh-huh–sure. Whatever. The developer came in with a flashy power-point presentation and fancy-schmancy architectural projections during a down-turn in the real estate market, and the majority on the board saw the empty lots and burning street-lights and said “sure” to the tax abatement plan, which included a job-creation clause.

Of course, the building was built — and the tenant backed out. The gussied-up, steel-trussed pole-barn sat empty for a while, but it eventually was filled with an equipment-rental firm. The tax abatement, though, lingered for years, even if the jobs promised by the developer never materialized.

Developers develop, and, well– “use” the law.

I can only imagine the sweetheart deals –here and abroad– the greased palms, the abated taxes in exchange for promises, the little people rolled by Donald Trump in the pursuit of his “building a world-class company”. The tentacles will likely be legion, and they will sprout when any enterprising journalist wants to look. I am not saying they will uncover illegality. But, the amount of “use” of the law will be jaw-dropping.

After all, you can’t get your attorneys to abate ISIS’ property taxes with a little sugar. This might be rather cheap shot, but I also am concerned about the degree to which Mr. Trump is already compromised by his “deals”, his sweethearts. I don’t want a scheming developer with a thousand sweethearts lurking around the White House. I don’t want a President “using’ the law.

Next, I will explore how to stop it. Sweethearts, after all, can be fickle.