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The Most Hated Man in America

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TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)

Now that the sky has fallen and Donald Trump is the presumptive nominee of the Grand Old Party (is there any doubt Trump will win the dumb-ass Florida-take-all primary?), The Democratic National Committee couldn’t have scripted the nomination process better: Donald Trump is the Republican nominee!

Opposition research will remind us that other than George Washington and a few other U.S. generals (and war heroes), no candidate has ever won the U.S. Presidency without having held elected office before. Also, no candidate (including Newt Gingrich) has ever been married three times before they accepted the keys to the highest office in the land. Speaking of which, Melania Trump, the presumptive first lady, would be the first foreign-born first lady since Louisa Adams, John Quincy Adams’ wife. Louisa Adams also played the harp, wrote satirical plays and raised silkworms. Melania Trump, on the other hand, would be one of the few first ladies to have been a Sports Illustrated swimsuit model. Oh, and Donald Trump would be the oldest U.S. President ever. That’s right, and yes, that includes Ronald Reagan (and Hillary Clinton by a hair, for that matter).

Many articles have been written during Trump’s long march through the American political process comparing him to Benito Mussolini, and less convincingly, Adolph Hitler (Donald Drumpf!). While ‘The Donald’ does equal Mussolini’s arrogance and clown-like demeanor, as the late, great Lloyd Bentsen might have said, “I knew Benito Mussolini, and you, sir, are no Benito Mussolini.” Donald Trump may be a great dealmaker and self-promoter, but he’s no politician – in fact he’s a political lightweight. He thinks that he’s the first politician to understand that voters don’t want the bullshit that the Washington political class has refined into an art form. He tells it like it is, representing the views of millions of dissatisfied, conservative voters that have been hoodwinked by a rigged system. Wading into this national reality show, this vulgar, crass, loudmouthed New York billionaire seems an odd choice.

That evangelicals voted in such large numbers for Trump lay bare their utterly phony, faithless ideals. These are the real Family Research Council-type moralists, co-opted by billionaires who reveal how they got rich, (and now you can too!). It’s Prosperity Gospel gone off the deep end. So we now have Donald Trump, who made most of his money off the backs of suckers and wannabes like the voters who now support him, giving voice to the lowest common denominations in American cultural life. It eerily shadows the plot line from the very funny film Idiocracy (2006) where the President of the United States is a former professional wrestler.

Trump’s businesses have declared bankruptcy (hugely successful!) four times or more, and other than reality television, Donald Trump has largely made his money by duping individual investors and municipalities out of millions of dollars in development deals, over and over again. “I’ve used the laws of this country to pare debt. … We’ll have the company. We’ll throw it into a chapter. We’ll negotiate with the banks. We’ll make a fantastic deal. You know, it’s like on ‘The Apprentice.’ It’s not personal. It’s just business,” Trump told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos in 2009.

That the Trump Brand is successful is beyond dispute. In this he is like Martin Shkreli, the CEO of Turing Pharmaceutical who jacked up the price of an AIDS drug by 700% to increase ‘shareholder value.’ Shkreli (and Trump) argue that taking advantage of market imbalance is just good business sense. “Here’s a guy (Trump) who’s failed so miserably so many times and it’s not as though he had to claw his way back after seven years in credit hell. He just said. ‘OK, this isn’t my problem anymore.’ For him, it’s just been a platform to the next money-making scheme,” said Dough Heller, the executive director of Consumer Watchdog at the time.

Trump would have us believe that other rich hypocrites take advantage of the system all the time, while average Americans get screwed. With this logic Trump is somehow better than those limousine-liberal billionaires working in arbitrage and derivative markets for Goldman Sachs, bleeding the American economy dry behind closed doors. But Trump, too, takes advantage of America’s rigged laws, especially bankruptcy laws, to line his own pockets. In his latest bankruptcy, Trump’s Coco Beach Golf & Country Club, S.E., appeared in court in San Juan where they listed assets of $9.2 million against debt of $80 million. So in his latest bust, Trump interests – representing creditors here instead of shareholders – took nearly $70 million dollars out of the already bankrupt Puerto Rican economy. Go Donald! Screw the suckers from Puerto Rico (and Atlantic City and New York City and perhaps, the World). His bottom-feeder tactics should surprise no one. He and Shkreli are just brothers from another mother. One man’s Capitalist Superman is another man’s ‘Most Hated Man in America.’ Bring on the general election!

John Underhill

March 9, 2016


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