P. T. Barnum will take the oath of office today…

…but an oath is just words to a con-man and politics, in the ballistic trajectory of Donald Trump’s rapacious ego, is just a game. More accurately, it is a “shell game” and the Presidency of the United States is the current shell under which he hides the “pea.”

In truth, this country is the final big achievement…score, in the “long-con” of Trumpism. Forget buildings and golf courses. Trump now gets to paste his name on a nation.

It is the capstone of a years-long marketing and licensing campaign that has been fueled by a mixture of racism and bigotry and ignited by a deeply damaged narcissistic mentality that values retribution over magnanimity and brutality over grace and humility.

I’ve heard it said that “What this Country needs is a businessman who will run it like a business.” I hear this mantra recited over and over in earnest by average people, most of whom work as hourly employees and small business people who have “bootstrapped” their way into a level of success by turning guts, a good idea and a SBA loan (or their inheritance, or a check and a worried glance from Dad…) into a company.

“Politicians… (they spit the word out like an errant fly that has landed on their collective tongues…) …are the problem with this country!”

“Donald Trump isn’t a politician, he’s a businessman!”  So QED, what this country needs is Donald Trump.

But the real high rollers and corporate execs know a thing that the average working stiff does not understand and that is that people are overhead and if you don’t know what overhead is, then you don’t understand a foundational concept of business strategy and that is that the purpose of running a business is to turn a profit and the quickest and cheapest way to turn a profit is to reduce overhead (and overhead is any expense that does not directly translate into profit).

Quite simply; people (their upkeep, their mistakes, their needs) are a drag on the bottom line and when it comes down to a choice between people and the bottom line, people will lose that coin toss almost every time.

And this, my friends, is the simple reason that you cannot run a country like you run a business:

Because in a properly run, successful business, profit is the bottom line and everything that the business does and everything that the business owns is there to contribute to that purpose. Anything that doesn’t generate profit is a write-off (this is another very important term that you need to know if you are going to run a successful business. It is a term that Donald Trump knows very well…).

Conversely, in a properly run, successful nation, people are the bottom line. Their growth and the realization of their potential is the nation’s bottom line.

But, people are stubborn and reticent to let go of a concept that they have come to hold dear. So let’s just say, for the sake of argument, that you could run a nation like you run a business.

OK. But here’s the thing about that…

No one ever seems to ask the next logical question in making that statement:

What kind of business is a Nation and what kind of businessman should be running it?

Let’s examine for a moment, the kind of businessman that a minority of voters in America just hired to run our country:

They see Trump as a builder.
Trump has built structures such as the Trump Tower and he did so with concrete supplied by mob owned companies and with labor supplied by immigrants working in this country illegally, but Trump does not build anything now and he hasn’t for a long time, because there were too many people and too much overhead involved in the business of building things (that’s why so many people got stiffed in those endeavors…).

They see Trump as a casino tycoon.
But in fact Trump, who would have never received a license to operate a casino in the first place if a proper investigation been done, was a spectacular failure in a business that should have been nearly bulletproof financially. Trump used his casinos as cash cows and brags about how much money he took out of them and how the casinos fueled his growth.

They see Trump as a financial genius and a graduate of the Wharton School of business.
He attended classes for two years at the Wharton school, but Trump has no graduate degree from Wharton, or anywhere  else, and there is no evidence that he was a distinguished student.

Trump does know one thing very well and that is how to work the bankruptcy courts in his favor. Indeed, Trump filed bankruptcy six times! This is backed up by PolitiFact which documents all six. Let’s go through them one by one:

Bankruptcy No. 1: The Trump Taj Mahal, 1991
Trump’s first bankruptcy may have hit the businessman, personally, the hardest, according to news reports.

He funded the construction of the $1 billion Trump Taj Mahal casino in Atlantic City, N.J., which opened in 1990, primarily with junk bonds at a whopping 14 percent interest. A year later, the casino was nearly $3 billion in debt, while Trump had racked up nearly $900 million in personal liabilities. So Trump decided to file for Chapter 11 reorganization, according to the New York Times.

As a result, Trump gave up half his personal stake in the casino and sold his yacht and airline, according to the Washington Post.

Bankruptcy No. 2: Trump Castle, 1992
Within a year of his first Chapter 11 filing, Trump found himself in bankruptcy court again for Trump Castle, which opened in 1985. It was his “weakest gambling hall,” according to the Philadelphia Inquirer, and ironically faced competition from Trump Taj Mahal. In March 1992, the Castle filed a prepackaged bankruptcy plan, and Trump gave up his 50 percent share in the casino for lower interest rates on $338 million worth of bonds.

Bankruptcy No. 3: Trump Plaza and Casino, 1992
The Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City, which opened in 1984, declared bankruptcy at the same time as the Castle. A $210 million joint project of Trump’s and Harrah’s, the casino had racked up $250 million in debt by 1992, after a staggering 80 percent decline in cash flow. So Trump Plaza filed for prepackaged bankruptcy that spring as well.

Bankruptcy No. 4: Plaza Hotel, 1992
Later that year, Trump filed bankruptcy on another Plaza, this one in New York. Trump purchased the Plaza Hotel in Midtown Manhattan for $390 million in 1988, but it accumulated more than $550 million in debt by 1992. In December 1992, Trump relinquished a 49 percent stake in the Plaza to a total of six lenders, according to ABC News. Trump remained the hotel’s CEO, but it was merely a gesture; he didn’t earn a salary and had no say in the hotel’s day-to-day operations, according to the New York Times.

Bankruptcy No. 5: Trump Hotels and Casinos Resorts, 2004
Trump Hotels and Casinos Resorts filed for bankruptcy again in 2004 when his casinos — including the Trump Taj Mahal, Trump Marina and Trump Plaza casinos in Atlantic City, and a riverboat casino in Indiana — had accrued an estimated $1.8 billion in debt, according to the Associated Press. Trump agreed to reduce his share in the company from 47 percent to 27 percent in a restructuring plan, but he was still the company’s largest single shareholder and remained in charge of its operations. Trump told the Associated Press at the time that the company represented less than 1 percent of his net worth.

Bankruptcy No. 6: Trump Entertainment Resorts, 2009
Trump Entertainment Resorts — formerly Trump Hotels and Casinos Resorts — was hit hard by the 2008 economic recession and missed a $53.1 million bond interest payment in December 2008, according to ABC News. It declared Chapter 11 in February 2009. After debating with the company’s board of directors, Trump resigned as the company’s chairman and had his corporate stake in the company reduced to 10 percent. The company continued to use Trump’s name in licensing.

No my little write-offs, Donald Trump is not a Real Estate mogul, or a Casino Tycoon, or a Financial Genius. He is, at best, a salesman and what he sells is a name (…and the thin, scrim of a mystique that is associated with that name). Donald Trump has a product to sell. The name of that product is TRUMP.

Ever wonder why Donald Trump talks about himself in the third person? He isn’t. He is talking about his product! He will not divest himself of the business of selling that product because in Donald Trump’s strange little world the Product and the Man have merged into one thing. To divest himself of that would be akin to severing a limb.

“He’s soooo unpredictable…”
Is he? Everyone in the media talks endlessly about how “unpredictable” Trump is, but in reality, Trump is nothing if not predictable. He is only unpredictable if you choose not to recognize the pattern of his behavior and his life.

Is he a liberal or is he a conservative?
They are flummoxed about the chasm of disparity between what he says and what he does. They look to his cabinet appointees as a way to divine the mystery of Trump.

“Well just look at his cabinet picks” they say…”those are the cabinet picks of a real rock-ribbed conservative!”

True that! But what makes you think that Donald Trump is the one that picked those people as his cabinet?

Donald Trump has no concept of representational government or of the bureaucratic framework that is necessary to form an administration. Furthermore and perhaps more importantly, he does not want to know. In point of fact the one defining characteristic of Donald Trump’s nature as a man and as a politician, is his complete lack of intellectual curiosity. Why would Donald Trump waste his time and energy in selecting a cabinet. That is what he hired Mike Pence for.

Donald Trump hires people and he fires people on a reality TV show (or did until NBC canceled the show). His supporters seem incapable of discerning that the fake boss on a scripted reality show is not who Donald Trump is. I am beginning to believe that Donald Trump cannot make that distinction either.

He has failed at everything else. He failed in Real Estate. He failed in the Casino business. But Donald Trump is not stupid. He knows what he is doing. He will follow a very predictable pattern and do what works for him. He is recreating his own new reality show in which he gets to play the President.

That is how he will run the country (at least until his violations of human decency and the law become too great for even his Republican lackeys in Congress to ignore).

But Donald Trump does not understand that a President is not elected to run a country. A President is elected to serve (and protect) a country.

Why is all of this so hard for people (especially people in the media) to understand?

The answer is simple: They are looking under the wrong shell.

 

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