Donald Trump is now gaslighting us into thinking he always took the “Chinese virus” seriously, after insisting it’s a hoax. Now, the coronavirus pandemic is forcing his administration to consider substantial financial assistance to Americans. In the meantime, Trump is begging supporters for emergency funding of his own—through a weird, cheap trick that appears to turn an unflattering honor Trump received a few decades ago on its head.
In 1990, Spy magazine (a satirical monthly that ended publication in 1998) pulled off an interesting prank. Spy created a New York corporation called National Refund Clearinghouse, complete with its own stationery and checking account. The Clearinghouse then sent a letter to “zillionaire” celebrities, including Trump, enclosing checks as supposed compensation for a nonexistent overcharge.
The first round of checks was for a mere $1.11, yet half of the “megawealthy” recipients cashed them, including Trump. Clearinghouse then sent checks for even smaller amounts, ending with checks for a measly 13 cents. Only two recipients, including Trump, bothered to cash them, in a first-place tie for what could be called the Cheapskates Hall of Fame. (In a strange twist of fate, Trump shared the honor with Adnan Khashoggi, a Saudi arms dealer whose nephew, Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, would be brutally murdered and dismembered in 2018 by the Saudi government while Trump discredited the CIA and suggested that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman played no role.)
Little did Spy know that the results of this experiment would shed light on an important piece of the deranged psyche of a future President of the United States, whom they described back then as “the demibillionaire casino operator and adulterer.” As economic panic over the coronavirus pandemic now engulfs the globe, it is not surprising that Trump is channeling his stinginess to guilt supporters into sending money.
A new mailer from Trump features a window that reveals two shiny one-cent stamps secured to a return envelope within. The envelope itself warns: “Don’t let this live postage go to waste. I need your immediate assistance!” In the letter, Trump admits that he “made sure the enclosed blaze orange DOUBLE-STAMPED Reply Envelope would be the first thing you saw when you picked up this letter” and pleads several times to return it with “your most generous EMERGENCY CAMPAIGN GIFT” as soon as possible.
It is ironic that Trump pleads for “emergency” funding when his constituents are the ones who sorely need it. To add insult to injury, beside the two one-cent stamps is an indication that no postage is actually necessary for this business reply. Trump included the stamps only in the hope that supporters would be pained at the thought of letting the live postage die, just as Trump was loath to ignore a 13-cent check. Whether it’s figurative, as in Trump’s reckless and racist coronavirus press conferences, or it’s literal, as in Trump’s recent deranged mailing, America must finally understand that Trump’s two cents are worth absolutely nothing.