A handful of years ago I delivered to a friend of mine what I erroneously thought would be received as a bit of good news concerning Winston Churchill. The friend was a subscriber to the notion, gaining ground in revisionist circles, that Sir Winston wasn’t quite the quintessential exemplar of statesmanship he’d been so thoroughly cracked up to be. Chipping away further at Churchill’s crumbling reputation was something I’d just learned from a source of reliable scholarship, that many of the famous aphorisms and anecdotes attributed to Churchill simply weren’t true. You may know of some yourself, the kind involving, say, George Bernard Shaw or Lady Astor, particularly the latter, who, so often, it would seem, a-little-too-conveniently walked into some “brilliant” Churchillian rejoinder. My friend received this intelligence with a look of quiet consternation. At length he sputtered, “Well, would it be acceptable if we just went on pretending it was all true?”
I sometimes think that’s what Trump’s obdurate base is up to. Some of them, anyway. They really are just continuing to pretend that Trump is all the things he professed to be back in 2016 and earlier, specifically, a brilliant, self-made billionaire businessman with superb, unerring negotiation skills and problem-solving abilities. They know better but they just can’t bring themselves to stop believing. One day, after Trump goes to prison, some of them will quietly slink away, and even re-emerge later claiming they’d voted for somebody else.
Meanwhile the Trump brand continues to crumble. Gone are the halcyon boasts of a “beautiful wall” that Mexico will pay for, the simplistic solution to Isis, the promised reveal of the tax returns, the “best people” and the “best words.” In their stead we’ve had the longest government shutdown in history, ISIS still not defeated, a tooth and nail battle to keep his tax returns hidden, his “best people” having quit or been jailed, the “best words” a senile pathology of word salad, and the disgusting crimes saturating the Mueller Report. Then there are the ten thousand lies, let’s not forget about those.
Adding to all that, the Trump-branded property name has become real estate poison. According to the Washington Post, the Trump National Doral Miami has reported a steep drop in profit and is “severely underperforming” other resorts in south Florida. What’s more, owners at Trump Tower in New York have been selling units at brutal losses. Apartments at the skyscraper where Trump ran his 2016 presidential campaign and filmed his TV show “The Apprentice” have sold at losses as high as 20%.
The easier it gets to be on the right side of the Donald Trump question, the harder it gets to be on the wrong side. Trump enthusiasts have a lot of answering to do, and no credible resource with which to answer. It must be tough, still pretending all their dying, heroic fantasies about Donald Trump are still true. I almost, but not quite, pity them.
Robert Harrington is an American expat living in Britain. He is a portrait painter.