Wednesday, September 04, 2019


I'm angry about self-dealing in the Trump White House, but maybe there's an alternate explanation for what's going on. This is from a CNN story about Vice President Pence's trip to Ireland:
The vice president's problems began in Doonbeg ... where he stayed for two nights at the five-star golf property owned by Trump. That required commuting 181 miles back and forth to Dublin, where he was holding meetings with government officials....

Later Wednesday, Trump denied to reporters he'd ever spoken to Pence about using his hotel during the vice president's trip this week. But ... he defended the use of the property.

"People like my product, what can I tell you? I can't help it," he said....

Trump has suggested before that Cabinet officials and advisers stay at his properties while they are traveling. He himself has spent 289 days of his presidency at a Trump property, according to a CNN tally.

A person familiar with the President's thinking explained the pattern as Trump's genuine belief that his locations are the best place for aides to lodge, and makes similar recommendations to his friends who do not work for him.
Obviously Trump is trying to profit from the presidency -- but couldn't this be at least part of his motivation? Consider several facts:

* Trump is not doing a very good job of grifting, as The New York Times made clear in May:
President Trump’s family business saw its overall revenues decline modestly in 2018, according to his annual financial report released Thursday....

The revenue declines were most pronounced at some of Mr. Trump’s best-known properties, including the Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, which experienced a nearly 10 percent drop. Hotels in Chicago and Hawaii, as well as golf courses in Los Angeles, Philadelphia and the Bronx, also saw declines....

The results were somewhat better for the Trump International Hotel in Washington, which has become a favored spot for Republicans, lobbyists and some foreign governments and accounts for nearly 10 percent of the Trump Organization’s revenues.

The hotel took in $40.8 million, up about 1 percent from what it reported in 2017.
The D.C. hotel is Ground Zero for Trump's ethics violations, yet its revenues were up a piddling 1% last year. By contrast, there are those who believe that Vladimir Putin has used his office to become the richest man in the world, richer than Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates combined. Now, that's how you run a kleptocracy!

* Beyond the fact that Trump isn't grifting very effectively (which might just be because he's always been a terrible businessman), there's the fact that he hates to travel, and rarely stays anywhere except his own properties. It's assumed that he does this because he wants to give the properties free publicity, but he was doing this long before the press followed every move he made 365 days a year. It's clear that Trump, while he's obviously a self-promoter, is also a guy who doesn't like anything unfamiliar. He likes the comforts of home, or, in his case, of his several homes. He decorates them to suit his own tastes. Then he says they're the best. I think they legitimately are what he considers the best. Which brings me to my last point:

* Trump is a narcissist. He's obsessed with himself and isn't happy unless everyone around him feels the same way he does about everything. Therefore, it's quite likely that he expects everyone around him to like the overdone glitz of his own properties -- he likes them, so how can other people not like them?

So, sure, he's trying to turn the presidency into a business opportunity. But I think he also believes his properties are the finest available, mostly because he's afraid of the big, scary world and the vast number of non-Trump things in it.

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