The incident that actually coined the phrase “October Surprise” came when Henry Kissinger, Richard Nixon’s National Security Advisor, lied just days before the 1972 presidential election that “peace is at hand” regarding the widely unpopular Vietnam War. It wasn’t. The statement was designed to injure Nixon’s opponent George McGovern. It did.
The past couple of weeks have dropped a cluster of October Surprises on Donald Trump and his campaign, and it’s only June! Bad news? So many hope so, but…
Truth be told, McGovern didn’t suffer all that much from the 1972 October Surprise. He was already hopelessly losing the election. Depending on who you listen to, Trump may be in the same boat. But he’s defied gravity for oh-so long already!
While most comparisons between The Donald and The Gipper are total bullshit, it’s fair to say that Donnie enjoys the same Teflon political coating that Ronnie had. Here’s a short list of “October Surprises” that were supposed to derail Trump, and never did:
- Questioning Obama’s birth certificate. Repeatedly.
- Calling illegal Mexican immigrants rapists.
- Blaming Megyn Kelly’s tough questions on her menstrual cycle.
- Dissing John McCain’s Vietnam war record.
- Mocking a disabled reporter.
- Offering legal fees to supporters who attack protesters.
- Blaming W. for the Iraq war failure. (Oops–the truth snuck in!)
- Accused U.S. soldiers of stealing million$ of U.S. cash in Iraq.
He’s been called on every one of these issues …and he has slithered away from every one. All is now water under the bridge. (Compare to: Howard Dean’s 2004 campaign, killed by a single enthusiastic scream. Sheesh!)
Here’s what Trump’s been doing just since my last column:
- Claiming that a native-born judge who ruled against him is a Mexican, and a racist.
…This sick public fantasy earned him so much wrath from his own party, that he made a feeble attempt to walk it back. But he never apologized outright.
- Congratulating himself following the Orlando massacre.
…This sick display earned him the same reaction, followed by a similar feeble, non-apologetic, attempt to walk it back.
- Denied emerging details of how he paid himself handsomely while his Atlantic City casinos slid slowly into bankruptcy.
…He stiffed contractors and investors alike. Numerous news outlets have reported on this, but so far I don’t perceive any real traction. Why, I have no clue.
- Fired his long-time campaign manager.
…This act is being hailed as a highly positive step, if performed way late.
- His own campaign finance report for May reveals that he has the worst war chest in modern history, 1/40th of Hillary Clinton’s. …This sobering reality has been called a sign that Trump hasn’t got the chops, and maybe not even the desire, to beat Hillary Clinton.
- That same report also reveals that Trump’s campaign pays his own companies, his own children, and even himself, for campaigning. …Just one example: he calls a press conference at Mar-a-Lago and then pays himself to host it. Nice work if you can get it.
This last revelation should come as no surprise. You may recall that Marco Rubio, in his own campaign’s death throes earlier this year, trashed Trump’s many failed enterprises—including Trump Steaks and Trump Water. After thumping Rubio in the primary that followed, Trump spent his victory speech showing off his still-for-sale water and steaks.
When the camera panned down to look over his wares spread out on a table, the speech nearly evolved into a Home Shopping Network special … missing only the flashing phone number to call in the next five minutes. He spent time defending Trump “University” as well, a bankrupt effort that drags on to this day. I mean that the defense is bankrupt, but I could just as easily be talking about the so-called university.
It turns out that the major buyer of Trump Water and Trump Steaks is—wait for it—Donald Trump. That is: his resorts, and his country clubs, his businesses. IMO it’s nothing more than an elaborate version of check kiting; he’s a success because he sells his own products to himself.
I wonder if he ever looks to see how much he’s being overcharged.
Donald Trump isn’t the first candidate to profit from running for president. Newt Gingrich used stage time at every 2012 campaign stop to hawk his many books. He’d then turn the floor over to his wife so she could hawk her book.
But tell me, if Double-dealing Donald couldn’t be taken down for any of those first eight bullet points, why should the most recent six be fatal?
I do have some hope regarding the story of Trump’s business dealings. The success that he calls them was in fact a long-simmering failure that earned Trump tons of money but stiffed everyone else. Dana Milbank’s story in the Washington Post explains why Trump’s 2016 Campaign will turn out like the Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City, the first of his four 1990s bankruptcies.
He paid himself millions in salary and benefits while his investors lost their millions. Sound familiar? He has not self-funded his candidacy, as he claims. His report reveals that every dime he’s spent so far is a loan, not a gift. Which he claims he will never collect. Ha—at least, not while we’re watching.
Donors, be aware that Trump has first claim on your donation to his campaign. The Donald always gets paid first, and well. Whatever is left—if anything is left—that’s your share. Sometimes. My favorite tweet on the subject:
Donald the Deadbeat: hundreds of individual workers and contractors have found it necessary to sue to get paid for their work. Trump claims he doesn’t pay for inferior work, but he offers contractor new work in the same communication that denies them payment for work already completed.
That makes absolutely no sense to me: “I’ll hire you again if you forget that I didn’t pay you this time.” Do people actually say yes to this?
One of several money quotes:
In courtroom testimony, the manager of the general contractor for the Doral renovation admitted that a decision was made not to pay The Paint Spot because Trump “already paid enough.” As the construction manager spoke, “Trump’s trial attorneys visibly winced, began breathing heavily, and attempted to make eye contact” with the witness, the judge noted in his ruling.
Here’s yet another witness to and listing of the people he stiffed while profiting from those bankrupted casinos.
The man is a tax cheat, and here’s why that seems certain. But IMO the real reason that he won’t release his tax returns is that they would reveal his true net worth. This I can tell you, without even looking: that number is less than the $10 billion he claims. A LOT LESS.
It’s unlikely that Tax Dodger Donald would get into trouble with his most fervent followers for being, well, a tax dodger. Most of them—hell, most of us—would love to be tax dodgers. But lying about his worth, something he’s done all his life without being called on it—that might not charm his devotes quite as much.
That deception goes part and parcel with the “kiting” of his money. Howard Hughes used to toy around with a pile of empty Kleenex boxes, arranging and rearranging them as proxies for his companies. Trump’s model is more like empty soup cans strung together with twine. His resorts buy Trump Steaks and Trump Water (and god knows Trump what-else), and then charge its consumption to Trump’s campaign, for hosting and catering those showy campaign events.
It’s not illegal, just tacky. Still, quite a bit less tacky than the Cheney W. administration issuing no-bid contracts worth billion$ to Halliburton, for Iraq war materials (Dick Cheney resigned his position as CEO to run for Vice President). But that’s a whole different column.
Will nothing sink this fraying phosphorescent orange life raft? Let’s try an email scandal…
In an article in the Washington Post, Trump is accused of destroying email evidence in a lawsuit 10 years ago. USA Today’s Paul Singer writes: “In 2006, when a judge ordered Trump’s casino operation to hand over several years’ worth of emails, the answer surprised him: The Trump Organization routinely erased emails and had no records from 1996 to 2001.
“Meanwhile, another Trump IT director testified that until 2001, Trump Tower executives relied on personal email accounts using dial-up Internet services, despite the fact that Trump had launched a high-speed Internet provider in 1998 and announced he would wire his whole building with it. Another said Trump had no routine process for preserving emails before 2005 …The preservation of email was a central point of contention in the suit filed in 2004 by Trump’s publicly traded casino company, called Trump Hotels and Casino Resorts.”
Political Survivor #45