Were You Really Dumb Enough To Believe Trump Would ‘Drain The Swamp’?


The New York Times ran another piece this weekend about Donald Trump's tax returns, and the focus was on how the president made millions as a “gatekeeper to his own administration." That sure sounds illegal but it's actually just corrupt. Let's dig in, shall we?

It was springtime at President Trump's Mar-a-Lago club, and the favor-seekers were swarming.

That reminds me of the bombastic intros to the Adam West “Batman" series.

In a gold-adorned ballroom filled with Republican donors, an Indian-born industrialist from Illinois pressed Mr. Trump to tweet about easing immigration rules for highly skilled workers and their children.

"He gave a million dollars," the president told his guests approvingly, according to a recording of the April 2018 event.

This kind of schmoozing with a side of wheeling and dealing was typical, and the Trump crime family made out like bandits. It's still apparently a shock to people who who were naive enough to think Trump and the GOP's criticism of the Clinton Foundation was in good faith.

Campaigning for president as a Washington outsider, Mr. Trump electrified rallies with his vows to "drain the swamp."

Yes, the New York Times is often quite naive.

But Mr. Trump did not merely fail to end Washington's insider culture of lobbying and favor-seeking.

The hell you say!

He reinvented it, turning his own hotels and resorts into the Beltway's new back rooms, where public and private business mix and special interests reign.

Yes, because he's Donald Trump. Remember how Donald Trump ran for president and was obviously Donald Trump?

I was watching Oliver Stone's Wall Street earlier this week, and a scene in particular stood out to me. It's when Carl Fox, airline mechanic and union man, rejects corporate raider's Gordon Gekko's razzle dazzle.

Pundits still struggle with the question of why so many white working-class people, especially men, fell fish hook and line for Trump's bullshit. How could they possibly put their faith in a man who, like Gekko, only cared about profit and “winning"?

But once Mr. Trump was in the White House, his family business discovered a lucrative new revenue stream: people who wanted something from the president. An investigation by The Times found over 200 companies, special-interest groups and foreign governments that patronized Mr. Trump's properties while reaping benefits from him and his administration. Nearly a quarter of those patrons have not been previously reported.

Just before Michael Douglas, as Gekko, delivers the immortal line “Greed, for lack of a better word, is good," he says he's not a destroyer of companies but a “liberator" of them. He addresses company shareholders like an audience at a Trump rally. Gekko denounces "these bureaucrats, with their luncheons, their hunting and fishing trips, their corporate jets and golden parachutes." Trump decried the “losers" running the country during the 2016 campaign and his supporters lapped it up.

Just 60 customers with interests at stake before the Trump administration brought his family business nearly $12 million during the first two years of his presidency, The Times found. Almost all saw their interests advanced, in some fashion, by Mr. Trump or his government.

During the 2016 campaign, it wasn't unusual for a Trump supporter to claim that their guy was so rich he couldn't be bought, unlike normal politicians who might've mounted a competent pandemic response. Trump isn't that rich, and he's willing to dole out favors for a fraction of what Taylor Swift earns in a year. (She also pays taxes.)

Martin Sheen's Carl Fox understood that he was potential prey in the room with a predator, but now an overwhelmingly majority of working-class white men believe they share a common cause with Trump when all they have in common is their race and gender identity. Four years later, that's still more than enough for this demo. Polls with Trump down double digits still have him leading white men without college degrees.

Trump claimed that as president he'd attack corruption and topple the elite. That's only laughable if you don't consider what blue-collar Trump voters believed was corrupt and just who were the elite that needed toppling. Twitter user “GirlPowerDon'tQuit" understood the true meaning behind the slogan “Drain the Swamp," as well as the implicit promise in “Make America Great Again."

Donald Trump was going to restore the white male dominant hierarchy, and it's the one campaign promise he pledged. His administration is whiter than a "Leave It To Beaver" rerun, and while he claims he's done more for Black people than Abraham Lincoln, what he can't seem to do is nominate them for anything important. Ben Carson is the exception that proves the rule here. Kamala Harris, during the vice presidential debate, noted that Trump has nominated at least 50 federal appeals court judges and not a single one is Black.

That's what his supporters consider truly “draining the swamp," and they don't mind if he picks their pockets while he's doing it.

[The New York Times]

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Stephen Robinson

Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes reviews for the A.V. Club and make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."


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