The Grifter’s Reward

Holy shit on a shingle, I always knew Donald Trump was working some kind of a con after he won the presidency, but I didn’t think of it as an extension of his whole life. But it is. He has been working a con for decades, and now with a little glimpse of his taxes, we all get to see how.

You can get all the details from the New York Times, which has risked fortune and reputation and everything else in a desperate but determined quest to find out just what kind of con the man was playing. Thanks to that effort, we now know.

In the first year of his presidency, he paid something like $750 in federal income taxes, and just about the same amount in the next year. He is a wealthy man, he has always claimed, but we didn’t know quite how that worked because so many of his businesses seemed dubious on the profit side.

As it turns out, he is an extreme example of one of those people who makes his fortune by playing the system to the max, every angle, every aspect. It’s all a con. Just lose enough money so you can offset your tax liabilities and bingo, it all goes good for you.

Or so this fat grifter thought.

Now we are looking at a man who is not only moving toward the end of his presidency (and the disclosures in the New York Times are not going to help him at all) but also likely toward the end of his effective life as a (businessman? Is that what you could call him?) man who rode an image as far as he could, but now it’s evaporating right under him. He will be thumping to the ground pretty soon, I suspect, kept in motion only by the immense amount of debt he will owe to the U.S. government (the IRS is having second, third and fourth thoughts about a $79 million tax loss he took that offset his liabilities to the Internal Revenue Service for years. If they decide to reject that, a $100 million bill lands on his desk. And there’s lots more for you to read about in the Times package, so please do while I just go on and rant about it.

Did all those foolish “Make America Great Again” hat wearers realize the president was actually a fraudulent TV persona with no actual knack for making money beyond his stupid old “Apprentice” TV show. The returns are trickling to nothing on that one.

His Washington hotel, where he coerces people to stay so his losses won’t be so deep, his golf clubs, which apparently exist to house Secret Service agents when he goes to play his favorite game (Whoops! Golf is not his favorite game. That would be Fraud.) Even Mar a Lago, that palatial Florida retreat, is something of a fraud. It gets lots of federal money for housing federal agents and the like, but it’s not a real money maker.

In fact, maybe Trump tower in New York its the only money maker he still has, and even that is going to be in question since, after all, he abandoned the city to escape to the artificial cooling of his Florida places.

All of this had me riled up, of course, so I decided to settle into a TV movie and eat some low calorie sherbert (raspberry). I went to Turner Classic Movies and pulled up “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” just to hear Burl Ives soliloquy on mendacity when he is down there in the basement of his mansion, aching with some kind of wretched stomach cancer, keeping away from the morphine his troubling and troubled son Brick is willing to give him after they decide, a full hour and a half into a movie that makes you stomach hurt, that they actually love one another. And that Big Daddy loved his bummy old man, too. It’s a hard Tennessee Williams play about, I suspect, some kind of redemption that comes once the evil of mendacity has been driven from the relationships. That how it seemed to me, anyhow.

I wonder if Trump is going to have one of those moments in a basement somewhere with the wife and the kids and the reality of what has happened settling all around them. In “Cat” it’s all about American tragedy, a family enmeshed in its own dishonest version of life. What saves them is most of them recognize that at the end. Big Daddy’s still going to die, of course, but Brick is going to stop drinking bourbon like its water and start having sex with his wife, played by an eager Elizabeth Taylor. Paul Newman had to do a lot of selling to get us to believe he wasn’t going to impregnate her as soon as he could. But he was a great actor.

The president is not.

We all know that now. Because he is an ass it is hard to view him as a tragic figure because, well, he’s an ass. But maybe humility will settle on him after he gets his butt kicked on Nov. 3. The con will be over. And he will have to go.

One thought on “The Grifter’s Reward

  1. While you were watching Liz via TCM, I was watching “The Best Man,” a delicious 1964 movie about presidential politics from the mind and pen of Gore Vidal. Among its great lines is this, from Henry Fonda, who says of a sleazy rival: “(He) has all the characteristics of a dog except loyalty.”


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