The amount of commentary here and elsewhere regarding Donald Trump’s entry into the race for President as the Republican nominee requires a response. I admit upfront that I am not a fan of Donald Trump- the businessman, the real estate mogul, the person, or the politician. Most of the commentary centers around three supporting themes that I shall attempt to take on.
The first is that Donald Trump is a viable outsider with so much wealth that he can self-fund a primary and general election campaign and still have plenty of money left over to live comfortably after retirement. First, let’s look at that wealth which, according to his announcement speech, is somewhere north of $8 billion even though Forbes, which has been tracking Trump’s wealth since 1982, puts the figure more realistically at somewhere near $4.5 billion. Although still respectable, it is a far cry from $8 billion, but this illustrates a Trump tendency- exaggeration. Notice how his golf courses are always the “finest,” his real estate holdings “high class” and his products “the best.”
Being a successful businessman, as he claims/exaggerates, is not necessarily a stepping stone to political office. The recent political landscape is littered with rich outsiders who went nowhere. Just ask Linda McMahon in Connecticut. Further, Donald Trump is not the only “outsider” in this race as Carly Fiorina and Ben Carson can also lay claim to that title. They just do not have the bombastic style of Donald Trump. Trump is this year’s Ross Perot; instead of ears to make fun of, we have a hairstyle to make fun of.
The second theme is that Trump is a successful businessman. But being a success in business is not akin to being a good choice for President of the United States. If so, then we would have had a President Carnegie, or a President Henry Ford, or a President Rockefeller in our history. Regardless, the belief that everything Trump touches turns to gold is absurd.
Although he can claim he has nothing to do with them now, his casinos in Atlantic City are hardly the picture of success. Trump Entertainment has declared bankruptcy four times now over these casinos that the courthouse in Camden should have a Donald Trump wing by now. Yes, he has nothing to do with these casinos now except license his name to be placed in gaudy red letters on the buildings. But if duct tape covering rips in carpets is “opulence,” then one would expect Trump to either remove his name or take other action. Most people forget that the Trump Taj Mahal was partially financed by neighboring Resorts International which he briefly owned and raped the company’s profits to finish the Taj Mahal. Even still, he had to declare the first of his four bankruptcies shortly later.
There are other failed Trump enterprises. Remember the USFL and the New Jersey Generals? According to Trump, he saved the USFL. According to the USFL, Donald Trump murdered the league. How about Trump Steaks which sold for $199 a package? How about Trump Shuttle which was a short distance carrier between Boston, New York and DC? He provided over-priced in-air opulence when customers wanted convenience. Trump the real estate mogul formed Trump Mortgage and predicted it would be biggest home lender in the country. Apparently he did not read the tea leaves about the impending housing market crash less than a year later. Then there was Trump University- a scam where people paid over $1,000 to sit through a seminar only to find out the real seminar would follow at a price of $4,500 to $35,000. That was the art of his deal. And although a “university,” Trump took in a respectable $5 million. How about that luxury condo complex in Baja a few years back?
Even the initial source of his wealth is nothing to be proud of. He inherited it from his slumlord father who obtained the money from the FHA during the Depression. Further, his sweetheart deals to construct his self-aggrandizing buildings are nothing short of crony capitalism. Many people criticized Obama for his “You didn’t build that” comment a couple years back, but in Donald Trump’s case, he and his father obviously received a lot of help from the government and Donald, in particular, from the courts.
I do not begrudge Donald Trump his wealth just as I did not begrudge Mitt Romney his wealth. But in Trump’s case, he should be more realistic and just say that his gaming the system is what made him a “rich outsider.”
The third theme is that Trump is simply saying what millions of Americans are thinking. Do people really think Mexico is sending hordes of rapists over the border? I’m sure some are coming here, but he makes it sound like the Mexican prisons are being freed of every rapist. News flash: they come here illegally in search of jobs. A minimum wage job in America still pays much more than a comparable job in Mexico. If you want to stem the flow of illegal immigration from Mexico, then you do it on both sides of the border. That means making sure Mexico has a vibrant economy so Mexicans will stay in Mexico and it means you dry up the demand for cheap labor on this side of the border through vigorous workplace enforcement and mandating e-Verify. And you make sure that besides the United States vigilantly patrolling our southern border to keep illegal immigrants out, Mexico patrols their northern border just as vigilantly to keep their citizens in.
Do Americans really think that the solution to job creation in America is protectionism? Trump would threaten a tax against Ford Motors if they built a car in Mexico rather than Tennessee. Since when does the President have the authority to institute a tax against anyone. The man needs to read the Constitution- the answer is in Article I just past the Preamble.
I could go on and on about his silly ideas like building a wall and having Mexico pay for it, or how he would take on China or Japan…or Saudi Arabia. I could talk about his plan to take on ISIS which, I suspect, will involve some hotel-building competition in the Middle East.
His pomposity and asinine attitude comes through in reaction to the reactions against him. When Univision broke their ties to Trump and his beauty pageant sideshow, his first reaction was to sue and not just for breach of contract, but for libel. I suppose he might actually extort a few million dollars from Univision before it is all over. With Macy’s, he said it was a mutual parting of the ways because the Macy’s brand and name were fading. Really? So why have you been marketing your clothing line in a fading store for years? His association with NBC was by mutual consent, or so he says. And as more businesses and people disassociate themselves from Trump, we will get similar reactions- an “Oh well, I was going to end my partnership with them,” or a trip to the courthouse.
Bad-mouthing countries may win you some points in the polls and probably does play to a certain segment of the population discouraged by this nation’s decreased standing in the world after 8 years of Obama. Anything would be an improvement over Obama. Anything that is besides Donald Trump.
And before the staunch conservative here goes all goo-goo gaga over Donald Trump’s chances, keep in mind that he has been a steady and willing financial contributor to Hillary Clinton in 2002, 2005, 2006 and 2007. He has donated $100,000 to the Clinton Foundation. In the 2006 midterms, he donated $50,000 to the DSCC and only $1,000 to its Republican counterpart. Throw in another $20,000 to the DCCC and his donations were 70-1 for Democrats. One of the biggest recipients of Trump largesse has been Charlie Rangel. His learned response was that everyone in New York is a Democrat. And the Republican who has received the most money from Trump is McCain. Geez– he even donated money to Reid’s last election in 2010 against Sharon Angle.
Besides being pompous, bombastic and other monikers, we can add hypocrite and phony capitalist to his resume. If that is what we are looking for in a presidential nominee for the Republican Party, then you may as well support Christie. As for me, if Trump were ever the GOP nominee, I would reconsider by political party affiliation.