Friday, July 10, 2015

Has Trump Branded His Own Arsenic Yet?


I'm a casual guy, part of why I like living on the West Coast. I was never much of a slick dresser and avoided ties as much as possible. But when fate threw me into a TimeWarner presidential job, I wound up with offices in New York and London as well as L.A. and I had to represent our company in countries where suits and ties were important status symbols for executives. Over the years I tried to casualize the culture everywhere I could, but... I had to wear ties too. 

In Milan, where our Italian company was headquartered, I discovered Ermenegildo Zegna. Their ties were elegant and over the top at the same time, and I stocked up. People loved them, and I didn't mind them at all. But I never tried any other brands of ties-- except rock 'n' roll promotional ties for a couple of mod and skinny tie bands. The Jam had a good one with their logo. I still have it hanging in my closet with the rack of Zegnas I never wear any longer.

One brand I would never have in my closet-- or even touch-- is anything with the name Trump. He may claim that his brand is golden, and it may even be golden with a certain set of the world's most shallow and repulsive conspicuous-consumption addicts, but when I see a Chinese-manufactured Trump tie-- or Trump anything-- I think of a clue to someone who may wind up on a guillotine someday.

Trump claims-- with no valid documentation whatsoever-- to be worth $9 billion and to be a master negotiator and a top businessman. Fact of the matter is, he's wealthy... but not that wealthy. He rents his name (brand) out to hucksters trying to make a few bucks from pathetic people who find the brand attractive. One of the last certified accountings of Trump's wealth, after his 4th or 5th bankruptcy and taxpayer bail-out, was something like $200 million IN DEBT. He's made money since then-- a lot of it-- as a TV game show host and as a brand purveyor... but not a billion, let alone $9 billion. Estimates of his worth are more in line with $200-400 million. That's a lot richer than most people, but he's not a billionaire. He's a blowhard and a liar-- perfect for a Republican Party that has been utterly stripped of cognitive abilty by too much Fox and too much Hate Talk Radio.

Trump's brand may be posion among normal people, but the Republican base is eating it up. His polling numbers at this point show he is destined to be the Republican Party nominee, beating Jeb!, Scott Walker, Marco Rubio, Huckabee, Christie and the rest of the hideous clown car they've assembled this cycle. If the Clinton campaign wanted to wreck the Republican brand, there is no better way to do it than to marry it to the Trump brand. 

And many Republican officials are starting to catch on. George Will was warning about it weeks ago. Yesterday Dana Milbank was gloating in the Washington Post.
It has been amusing to watch the brands-- the PGA, NBC, Macy’s, NASCAR, Univision, Serta-- flee Donald Trump after his xenophobic remarks. Who even knew The Donald had a line of mattresses featuring Cool Action Dual Effects Gel Memory Foam?

But there is one entity that can’t dump Trump, no matter how hard it tries: the GOP. The Republican Party can’t dump Trump because Trump is the Republican Party.

One big Republican donor this week floated to the Associated Press the idea of having candidates boycott debates if the tycoon is onstage. Jeb Bush, Lindsey Graham and other candidates have lined up to say, as Rick Perry put it, that “Donald Trump does not represent the Republican Party.”

But Trump has merely held up a mirror to the GOP. The man, long experience has shown, believes in nothing other than himself. He has, conveniently, selected the precise basket of issues that Republicans want to hear about-- or at least a significant proportion of Republican primary voters. He may be saying things more colorfully than others when he talks about Mexico sending rapists across the border, but his views show that, far from being an outlier, he is hitting all the erogenous zones of the GOP electorate.

Anti-immigrant? Against Common Core education standards? For repealing Obamacare? Against same-sex marriage? Antiabortion? Anti-tax? Anti-China? Virulent in questioning President Obama’s legitimacy? Check, check, check, check, check, check, check and check.

Does anybody suppose Trump really cares about illegal immigration (which helps his construction interests, by suppressing wages) or about defending traditional marriage (he’s had three)?

...Now Trump is the one talking about Mexico sending us drugs, crime and rapists. His shift is hardly surprising given his audience — and his competitors. Scott Walker talks about self-deportation, Graham talks about ending birthright citizenship, Ben Carson blames illegal immigrants in part for the measles outbreak, Rand Paul describes as lawbreakers those who were brought to the United States illegally as children, and even relatively moderate candidates such as Bush and Marco Rubio have hardened their immigration positions. Ted Cruz actually praised Trump.

Trump’s position also closely follows those that came from Arizona in 2010 when then-Gov. Jan Brewer and other Republicans attempted an immigration crackdown. They spoke about illegal immigrants on the border as a source of beheadings, kidnappings and police killings.

The previously tolerant Trump may be a phony, but he’s no dope: He recognized that, in the fragmented Republican field, his name recognition would take him far if he merely voiced, in his bombastic style, the positions GOP voters craved. The mogul’s broader basket of issues is also in tune with those of a slate of candidates who have compared homosexuality to alcoholism (Perry), likened union protesters to the Islamic State (Walker) and proposed elections for Supreme Court justices (Cruz), and who virtually all oppose same-sex marriage and action on climate change.

It worked. Trump placed second in national polls by Fox News and CNN, virtually guaranteeing him a place in the first debate, on Aug. 6-- unless the GOP persuades Fox News, the host, to dump Trump.

That would be hard to justify. Trump may be a monster, but he’s the monster Republicans created.
Now why would they want to do that? Trump is the ratings draw for the debates. No one other than the handful of true believers will be tuning in to see that dull, plodding Jeb! or the weasely, ugly little worm Walker or the rotund lying bully Christie or Ted "Tailgun" Cruz. I suppose Lindsey Graham would be a draw if he promised to come out of the closet on the night of the show... perhaps in a ball gown. But normal American TV viewers are going to give Fox a huge ratings spike because they want to see the horrific pileup of a train wreck starring The Donald. 

Elsewhere in yesterday's Post, senior writers Karen Tumulty, Philip Rucker and Bob Costa wrote about the fear (and loathing) from the serious GOP Establishment about the corner the clownish Trump has backed them into.
The head of the Republican National Committee, responding to demands from increasingly worried party leaders, spent nearly an hour Wednesday on the phone with Donald Trump, urging the presidential candidate to tone down his inflammatory comments about immigration that have infuriated a key election constituency.

The call from Chairman Reince Priebus, described by donors and consultants briefed on the conversation and confirmed by the RNC, underscores the extent to which Trump has gone from an embarrassment to a cause for serious alarm among top Republicans in Washington and nationwide.

But there is little they can do about the mogul and reality-television star, who draws sustenance from controversy and attention. And some fear that, with assistance from Democrats, Trump could become the face of the GOP.

Rather than backing down from his comments about illegal immigrants — whom he characterized as rapists and killers, among other things — Trump has amplified his remarks at every opportunity, including in a round of interviews Wednesday.

He insisted to NBC News that he has “nothing to apologize for” in his repeated remarks about Mexicans. But he also predicted that, if he secures the GOP nomination, “I’ll win the Latino vote.”

Few seem to think he has a chance of becoming his party’s 2016 standard-bearer, even though he is running near the front of the pack in some early primary states. Summer poll numbers for novelty candidates such as Trump tend to be as perishable as ice cream cones.

“I think he’ll self-destruct relatively quickly. The dynamic, I think, will change very dramatically, and Trump will be yesterday’s news,” said former senator Robert F. Bennett (R-Utah). “But if this does have legs, if Trump can keep this going, it will be very worrisome.”

The fear expressed by Bennett and others is that Trump will set back the party’s efforts to rehabilitate its image and broaden its reach. And it appears likely that he will be onstage in the presidential debates that begin next month-- a dissonant figure in what GOP leaders had hoped to present as a substantive, experienced and appealing field of candidates.

Priebus’s decision to reach out to Trump came after days of talks with Republican donors and officials about how best to manage Trump’s outsize presence on the airwaves. Many financiers who are influential at the RNC have been fuming about Trump’s ascent and told Priebus that he must ensure that the RNC’s efforts over the past year to win more of the Hispanic vote is not harmed.

Reluctant to engage publicly and having developed a friendship with Trump in recent years, Priebus decided to call the candidate and quietly ask him to soften his pitch, said GOP donors familiar with Priebus’s thinking. Trump had left a voice-mail message for Priebus over the weekend asking if they could catch up, making the call’s context less confrontational, the donors said.

The call lasted about 45 minutes, the donors said, and Priebus was cordial, updating Trump on the party and the primary calendar while also urging him to “tone it down”-- a phrase used repeatedly by those with knowledge of the exchange. Priebus told Trump that making inroads with Hispanics is one of his central missions as chairman. He told Trump that tone matters greatly and that Trump’s comments are more offensive than he might imagine with that bloc.

...“The fact that he is rising in the polls has something to do with tapping into an angst and anger, especially on immigration, that the other candidates have been unwilling or unable to harness,” said Reed Galen, a Republican operative based in California.

Steve Duprey, a Republican National Committee member from New Hampshire, where Trump is running a strong second to former Florida governor Jeb Bush in some polls, said the tycoon’s “frustration with border enforcement is shared with lots of Americans, but I find his views on immigration to be contrary to what the party of Lincoln stands for.”

None of the Republican contenders, with the exception of Sen. Ted Cruz (Tex.), has defended Trump. But those who have condemned him were slow to do so, and it may ultimately be difficult for them to distance themselves from a celebrity candidate who commands a spotlight and a microphone wherever he goes.

Trump “could become the 2016 version of Missouri Rep. Todd Akin, who tarnished the GOP brand in 2012 with an offensive statement about rape,” strategist Karl Rove wrote in a column for Thursday’s Wall Street Journal. “Republican leaders from Mitt Romney on down immediately condemned his words, but swing voters were persuaded that every Republican believed what Mr. Akin said.”

One GOP state party chairman, speaking on the condition of anonymity so he could be frank, said of Trump: “He’s already done some damage, and it could be substantial going forward. He could be one of the reasons we lose. It’s that serious. There’s nothing we can do about it, and that’s what’s so scary.”

...His candidacy has created a sensation in Spanish-language media. On Tuesday night, Univision led its newscast with its own version of a Washington Post report on the large number of immigrants building the new Trump Hotel in downtown Washington. The same topic was Telemundo’s second story.

Earlier, the two networks covered a comment Trump shared on his Twitter feed saying that Bush “has to like the Mexican Illegals because of his wife,” Columba, who was born in Mexico.

Trump subsequently deleted the tweet, but defended it Wednesday on CNN: “Do I regret it? No, I don’t regret it. If he loves his wife and she’s from Mexico, I think it probably has an influence on him.”
The Old GOP Establishment pick may still be Jeb!, and the Adelson pick is certainly Rubio, while the Kochs are insisting on Walker. Trump has been bad-mouthing in the ugliest of terms all three of them-- and all the time. Perhaps it will help them in some circles. For one thing, Jeb!'s outrageous pro-austerity palaver for the Union Leader Wednesday about Americans needing to work longer hours was mostly buried under Trump's name-calling. He sounded like Merkel lecturing the Greeks, who, as everyone now knows, work much harder and longer than their German slavemasters. Even Tailgun Ted clobbered Jeb! on that one. He sent out his campaign spokesman to say, "It would seem to me that Governor Bush would want to avoid the kind of comments that led voters to believe that Governor Romney was out of touch with the economic struggles many Americans are facing. The problem is not that Americans aren't working hard enough. It is that the Washington cartel of career politicians, special interests and lobbyists have rigged the game against them."

Back to the Trump brand, via a new "Daily Comment" piece by New Yorker editor David Remnick, "The Trump Balloon," which begins by chronicling the Trump empire. His hustler father lived in my neighborhood, down the block from my first girlfriend, Doreen, and I certainly recognize the description of "Trump's ascent" that Remnick quotes from Mark Singer's famous 1997 New Yorker profile, "Trump Solo," as "a form of 'performance art-- an opera-buffa parody of wealth.' " 

Here's David Remnick:
For decades, the many institutions of the press-- high and low, left and right-- have fed off Trump’s unapologetic vulgarity, his willingness to say absolutely anything. What did it matter to Trump if Jon Stewart used him as nightly cannon fodder? It was, as we now say, good for the brand. And what is the Trump brand? Over the years, we have been treated to Trump hotels, Trump magazine, Trump Airlines, Trump apartment buildings, Trump golf courses, Trump reality shows, Trump University, Trump the Game, Trump Chocolate, Trump the Fragrance, Trump Model Management, Trump Ice, Trump Steaks, Trump Vodka.

The personal brand is, depending on your inclinations, a gilded jackass or an up-from-nothing tell-it-like-it-is-type-a-guy (without the up-from-nothing part). But it’s always been more than buffoonish entertainment. The sheer number of people and peoples who Trump has managed to insult, bully, and mistreat is, in its way, awe-inspiring. He congratulated Alejandro González Iñárritu for winning numerous Oscars for Birdman with this gracious remark: “Well, it was a great night for Mexico, as usual in this country.” He once told Bryant Gumbel, in an interview for an NBC program on race, what he thought about affirmative action: “If I was starting off today, I would love to be a well-educated black, because I really do believe they have the actual advantage today.” In the seventies, the Trump real-estate company was sued by the Justice Department for racial discrimination in its rental practices in Brooklyn, Staten Island, and Queens. After settling the case with Trump, the Justice Department sued yet again for non-compliance. In 1989, Trump took out an ad in the Daily News, and three other newspapers, about the Central Park jogger rape case, in which he declared that the “criminals of every age” who had been arrested twelve days earlier-- five African-American and Hispanic teen-agers-- were “crazed misfits,” part of “roving bands.” “BRING BACK THE DEATH PENALTY,” the ad read. “BRING BACK OUR POLICE!” Years after it turned out that someone else had committed the crime, and the young men had finally been released from prison, Trump wrote an unapologetic op-ed for the paper in which he called the city’s push for restitution payments to the men “a disgrace.” He made it plain that, to him, their lives were nothing, and, besides, “These young men do not exactly have the pasts of angels.”

Trump’s blithe moral contempt has many targets. Women? He once told Esquire, “You know, it doesn’t really matter what [the media] write as long as you’ve got a young and beautiful piece of ass.” Climate change? Here’s a tweet, circa 2012: “It’s freezing and snowing in New York-- we need global warming!” Trump has been among the country’s foremost (i.e., loudest) “birthers,” constantly prompting the idea, against all evidence, that Barack Obama was born in some other country and, therefore, is constitutionally unable to hold the office.

Trump is now running for President of the United States. His platform appears, in the early stages, to be a smelly soup of billionaire populism and yahoo nationalism-- all flavored with a tangy dollop of old-timey racism. On Mexicans: “They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.” (When challenged that a report he cited concerned immigrants who had been raped, he said, “Somebody’s doing the raping!”) Donald Trump is currently polling second among Republican primary voters in New Hampshire, Iowa, and nationally.

...Donald Trump is a joke, too, but of a different sort. His intention is not to inspire laughter or relief; his targets are not the powerful. He doesn’t punch up. He spews forth ugliness everywhere he goes. It would be nice, and maybe wise, simply to ignore him, in the hope that he will, after all these many years, just go away. But he never really does, and the most immediate concern is not that he will win the office he pursues but that he will get in the heads of the candidates around him. Trump’s father was a self-promoter who dispersed discounts in his balloons. The son offers only toxic gas.
Would you buy anything with the Trump brand on it? Would you even want to?

UPDATE: And The Inevitable...

Trump, hopped up on his ranking success among the Fox and Hate Talk Radio crowd, and furious that the GOP elders are belitting him and talking him to "tone is down," is now threatening to throw the race to the Democrats by running as, what amounts to a Know Nothing candidate. Perhaps he could get Jim Webb to run as his VP?
“So many people want me to run as an independent, so many people,” Trump said. “I have been asked by-- you have no idea, everybody wants me to do it.”

Pressed about whether he would back the Republican ticket if he fails to win the nomination himself, Trump left the door open for a third-party bid of his own. “I would have to see who the nominee is,” he said.

...The specter of an independent run by Trump has unnerved GOP power brokers, many of whom worry that such a campaign could draw substantial support from the party’s base, similar to how Ross Perot’s maverick 1992 presidential campaign won an enthusiastic following among frustrated conservatives.

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At 9:18 AM, Anonymous ap215 said...

"His intention is not to inspire laughter or relief; his targets are not the powerful. He doesn’t punch up. He spews forth ugliness everywhere he goes".


At 11:43 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bingo, indeed: the perfect candidate for GOP primary voters, don'cha know!!!

John Puma

At 2:26 AM, Blogger Daro said...

I've suspected that apart from the ego tripping, part of his motivation was payback at the Repo Party for having less-than-deified him in the past. He's in this race to crash the clown car and show these people you don't mess with Tramp.


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