My own pre-election attempted derailment of a dishonest consensus, that Donald Trump was a “brilliant businessman,” has at last recently been vindicated by the New York Times. I claim this as no unique insight. I just knew, somehow, that Donald Trump is, was and remains particularly inept at business.
Trump’s ham-fisted, ruinous meddlings in delicate treaties, his unerring capacity to offend our allies and praise our enemies, his uncanny faculty for snatching defeat from the jaws of humiliation, certainly provided early clues that maybe, just maybe, all is not as it is cracked up to be in the business acumen of Donald J Trump.
The death blow, as mentioned, was dealt once and for all by the New York Times early last month. What we know is this. Trump’s father, Fred C Trump, conferred millionaire status on Donald Trump by the time he was eight, starting out by funneling money to him since he was a toddler. With glacial ruthlessness old Trump gifted young Trump with successively larger amounts of raw legal tender.
Fred’s largess increased dramatically in lockstep with Donald’s “ambitions,” beginning when the twenty-something Donald’s real estate acquisitiveness extended into Manhattan. By downplaying Fred’s help and accentuating Donald’s business “genius,” the two conspired to create and brand a world class self-made billionaire, complete with glittering skyscraper with the incandescently affixed name of “Trump.”
When Fred died in 1999 he bequeathed an estate which boasted a single giant IOU from Donald as its largest asset. Trump sold what was left, at a loss. Since that time Trump’s sojourn has included swindles and frauds for which he is justly famous, and a desperate search for a substitute father, which he found in the person of Vladimir Putin.
Trump’s narrative of his life remains the same tired one we all know so well, wherein he broke free from his father’s “tiny” real estate operation and built a $10 billion empire. The New York Times disputes this and it does so with stunning evidence and penetrating research. The only conceivable refutation to these findings are Donald Trump himself. In other words – and it makes me laugh out loud just to write this – the only thing left that we need do in order to believe the New York Times’ report on the origins of Trump’s wealth is to believe that Donald Trump is lying. And how easy is that?
Robert Harrington is an American expat living in Britain. He is a portrait painter.