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The Donald: From Mogul to Magician with Dubious Presidential Ambitions

Updated on April 29, 2011

Donald John Trump, Sr, the global business magnate and reality television star turned provocateur, affectionately known as “The Donald” has, in strict economic terms, probably never known a finer year.

Granted that the jury is still out on exactly how successful the expansive business ventures he oversees under a large umbrella organization he christened the Trump Organization---from real estate development and licensing, to beauty pageants, resorts, casinos and hotels---are, he seems to be doing really well nowadays with “The Apprentice,” the fake NBC reality TV show he front-lines where he’s seen his pay skyrocket from a measly $50, 000 to a whopping $3 million per episode.

Now, I am certainly not by any means suggesting that Trump is a pauper; most accounts place his net worth between $2 to $3 billion; which Trump, almost always bristles at. He makes a point to remind anyone who cares to listen that his overall valuation is much higher than that.

The reality is that everyone knows that Trump is a profligate, brash, trash-talking megalomaniac who understands the value of his shock-peddling persona to his continuing success or relevance.

Much as his interests and business dealings are indubitably wide-ranging, “The Apprentice” and, lately, “Celebrity Apprentice” showcase Trump in his most natural element---in front of lights and rolling cameras, stroking his over-inflated ego while irreverently rebuking or chastising other lesser mortals in his make-belief boardroom. Besides, they are currently, clearly the flagship products of his burgeoning empire.

As a shrewd business man, Trump sees a clear line between his earning potential and remaining embroiled in controversy. The Trump brand relies heavily on shock appeal for sustenance.

Whether mounting the media bully pulpit to excoriate Rosie O’Donnell for daring to question his judgment in presenting himself as a “moral compass for 20-year-olds” when a Miss USA Pageant winner supposedly violated pageant guidelines by partying and drinking; mouthing off against Karl Rove for questioning the legitimacy of his ‘pretend’ Republican presidential bid or berating Jerry Seinfeld for opting out of his son’s charity function, Trump can turn into a savage, unrelenting pit-bull on a dime.

And it’s all calculatingly done with a leering, lascivious eye on the financial windfall from a well-chiseled, albeit notorious, image. Trump understands that in the short-term, any publicity is far better than no publicity; it assuredly translates into soaring ratings for his television show and other related spin-offs which in turn, come contract re-negotiation time, results in a pay hike!

But all of the foregoing notwithstanding, making that dangerous turn from seeing Trump really for what he’s about, making money, to actually according him respectable consideration as a possible GOP presidential candidate for the 2012 elections is lunacy of the most unpardonable variety.

Beyond the fact that he has done this several times before, even Trump himself, in the recesses of his sub-conscious, knows that he is a con artist He is not electable. Trump should not be taken seriously. He simply does not have the wherewithal. He has neither the discipline, presentation, gravitas nor the kind of astute understanding of socio-political phenomena that running for such an office demands.

I’m sorry to break the news to many far-right Republicans who, as the polls suggest, fell for Trump’s ploy but he’s yet another flash in the pan that, like many one-hit wonders in the music industry, will sooner vanish into extraneousness.

It’s already happening; the sun is setting fast on Trump. He’s gotten quite toxic. People are already beginning to distance themselves from him. Next, as businesses start to dissociate from him, the ads will dry up and he’ll return to his roots: real estate.

On the issues, when he’s not all over the map (that is, being for something before he’s against it), like Sarah Palin before him, several interviews have shown just how dim-witted, naïve or preposterous Trump can be. When he’s not railing at OPEC or China for all that ails this county, he’s calling for us to blow Moammar Gadhafi’s Libya to smithereens and take over the country’s oil wells.

Regarding presentation, does it matter that Trump routinely goes on profanity-laced public tirades? Or should we view it as part of his charming down-to-earthness and simply chuck it up as part of his “am-just-like-you” magnetism?

While explaining the Iraqi quagmire before a crowd of conservative supporters, Trump, recently, reportedly summed it up as follows: "We build a school, we build a road. They blow up the road. They blow up the school. We build another school, we build another road, they blow them up. We build again, in the meantime we can't get a fu***** school built in Brooklyn."

On OPEC, this past Thursday, Trump said this to a crowd of supporters in Las Vegas: "they want to go in and raise the price of oil because we have nobody in Washington that sits back and says you're not going to raise that fu***** price, you understand me?"

In ending, it’s worth acknowledging that it’s really one thing to draw attention to oneself by spewing expletives(as referenced above) or appearing tough and mean-spirited (like calling Rosie O’Donnell a “fat slob”) or denying what most reasonable people agree to be undisputable facts (like joining the birthers to question President Obama’s citizenship) or even creating faux controversies (like declaring that President Obama must have fraudulently gotten into Harvard since he was not smart enough) .

Though not particularly enchanting to me , I understand, especially given not just Trump’s line of work but his primal self-conceitedness, that he has a preeminent need to be in the limelight or be noticed for obvious career reasons. But it is certainly a confounding leap to actually go from there to putting on, and keeping up, the sort of dog and pony show that Trump has deliberately been running intent on misleading people into believing that he is an earnest, credible contender for the White House in 2012.


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