Poe’s Law: Without a clear indication of the author’s intent, it is difficult or impossible to tell the difference between an expression of sincere extremism and a parody of extremism
The Theory of the Case
Prior to beginning his stint on The Apprentice in 2004, Trump’s tax returns showed his businesses lost $89.9 million in 2003. He needed a payday and NBC happily gave it to him in the form of The Apprentice to the tune of a contract that would end up paying Trump upwards of $427 million in direct payments and licensing deals on the side over the duration of the show. That cash infusion saved Trump’s failing core businesses and allowed him to make the debt payments from his bankrupt casinos. By the end of 2002 Trump was carrying forward $352.8 million in business losses.
Trump used most of his The Apprentice money to purchase golf courses and other properties that instead of increasing his income gave him losses to offset the money he received from his various deals related to The Apprentice.
By 2015 those payments were not sufficient to service his existing and growing debt. Trump needed a new grift.
Up until 2011 Trump gave more to Democratic politician then he did Republican ones. Starting in 2012 his political giving was almost entirely to Republicans. Trump’s political registration bounced between Democrat, Republican and Independent multiple times until he finally settled on Republican in 2012.
During an interview with Wolf Blitzer on CNN in 2004 Trump said:
In many cases, I probably identify more as a Democrat. It just seems the economy does better under the Democrats than the Republicans. Now, it shouldn’t be that way. But if you go back, I mean it just seems that the economy does better under the Democrats. …But certainly we had some very good economies under Democrats, as well as Republicans. But we’ve had some pretty bad disaster under Republicans.
The Theory: Donald Trump, strapped for cash, decided on his greatest grift ever – Run for the Republican nomination in 2016 as an extreme version of what a liberal person thinks would appeal to Republican base voters in order, not to win the nomination, but to reinvigorate his branding and keep the licensing gravy train going once The Apprentice ended.
The only thing that could go wrong would be to actually win the Presidency. Therefore, Trump would run as a caricature of a conservative Republican in order to make himself just popular enough get the attention he needed to thrive. Maybe win the GOP nomination but definitely not the Presidency. That would involve too much real work.
All Trump needed was to be relevant again and open up many more potential lines of income through direct mail appeals, setting up PACs for various conservative causes to maybe even TrumpTV as a way to cash in on Conservatism, Inc.
Being the pitchman that he is, Trump adopted a persona that he felt would best resonate with the Republican base:
Viciousness towards brown immigrants
Denigration of blacks as victims of racism
Frat-boy attitude towards women including their objectification
Hatred of anything remotely connected to the Democratic party
Glorifying and advocating violence
Stephen Colbert, before he took over for David Letterman, successfully did something similar on The Colbert Report, but everyone was in on the joke and knew it was a joke. For those who don’t remember just watch Jesse Watters over on Fox for a non-ironic version of Colbert from those days.
Trump underestimated how low the Republican base could or would go and something funny happened on the way to setting up Republicans to be Trump’s new cash cows.
CNN reported that Trump was just as, if not more, surprised that he won against Hillary Clinton in 2016.
There’s a bit of reporting in Mary Jordan’s new book on Melania Trump – out tomorrow! – that should put to rest, once and for all, the idea that Donald Trump always knew he was going to win the 2016 election.
“The election night win came as a surprise even to Trump, according to many on his campaign, and little preparation had been done for what came next. Trump had even talked about going to one of his golf courses in Scotland immediately after the election so he didn’t have to watch Hillary Clinton bask in her success. One campaign aide recalled that candidate Trump had ‘told the pilot [of his private jet], ‘Fuel up the plane.’ “
Look. There’s been ample reporting over the past few years that Trump had no clue that he might actually win – from the scramble to write a victory speech to the utter chaos of his presidential transition effort.
Trump never wanted to win. He had 9-figure debt payments coming due and no cash flow to pay them. Trump needed cash. He wouldn’t have made a good prostitute so he went to the next oldest profession to get what he needed: Politics.
The GOP is stuck with him now
Seven years, two impeachments, a lost general election, two lost houses of Congress and hundreds of lost state level seats after Trump descended the clunky escalator of Trump Tower the GOP Establishment is finally starting to wake up and ask themselves is it really the best idea for their party to be attached to Trump?
What the Republican elite haven’t come to terms with yet is that after years of defending Trump, only complaining off the record and humoring Trump is that there is that Trump has become the Republican Party base.
According to a Morning Consult poll released today Trump has lost one point of support among Republican primary voters while the Establishment’s Great White (← the important part) Hope, Florida governor Ron DeSantis has gained two points of support from Republican voters. If the Republican Primary were held today Trump would receive 48%, DeSantis 26% with 26% wanting someone other than Trump or DeSantis.
There are still federal and state indictments looming heavily over Trump and when they start coming in the question will be, will that solidify support for Trump the Martyr or accelerate his loss of support as Trump This Fuggin’ Guy?
Whatever happens it is going to be messy and it is going to be public, loud and embarrassing for the Republican Elite.
You know what? I am here for it. They embraced Trump. They ignored Trump’s lies. They excused Trump’s self-dealing, They participated in Trump’s insurrection. They deserve every painful second of Trump tearing their party apart on his way down.
They were warned. They were pleaded with. They were begged to move on.
Their rallying cry was, “Fuck your feelings!”
Enjoy your giant helping of Trump pie.
You created Trump to own the libs, and now Trump owns you.
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Thus far, Trump's tactics have paid off very well for many people. Trump became president and grifted hundreds of millions from donors, taxpayers, and foreign governments. The Saudis gave billions to Kushner and Mnuchin. Hundred reds of enablers and hangers-on were elected to Congress and state offices. The oligarchy class has hoarded trillions. Our democracy is barely on life support. Even if the latest (in the pathetic class of prosecutors unable to figure out how to prosecute Trump) actually indicts Trump, it will electrify his base. We're entering 2024 with the same candidates, a wildly partisan SCOTUS, a GOP that will (of course) fall in line to support Trump, a changing of the Democratic party guard, and what appears to be a deliberate decimation of the pro-democracy public square (Twitter). I see nothing that brings me glee, the most I can summon is ironic laughter at the idea that the GOP will fracture vs supporting Trump. Of course they will debase themselves once again, despite the current chest-pounding by RW media, Pompeo, Christie, etc.
I agree with this assessment in its entirety.