You will never experience less reality than when you are watching a reality show. You’re watching people who aren’t actors, put into situations created by people who aren’t writers and they’re second guessing how they think you would like to see them behave if this were a real situation, which it’s not. And you are passively observing this; watching an amateur production of nothing. It’s like a photo of a drawing of a hologram.
~Comedian Dana Gould
In other words, “reality show” belongs in the pantheon of oxymorons right up there with jumbo shrimp, original copy and deafening silence. Yet, pundits trying their best to explain the past four years, describe the Donald Trump presidency as a reality show, as though it was an extension of The Apprentice. If you believe that depiction, last night’s debate was the live finale. And according to the post-debate polls, Trump was voted off the island.
The title of today’s post is an obvious reference to the 1964 John Frankenheimer film Seven Days in May, in which the military led by General James M. Scott (Burt Lancaster), fearing a sneak attack from the Soviet Union, plots to overthrow unpopular president Jordan Lyman (Frederic March) who supports a bilateral disarmament treaty. Sound familiar? Except in this tale of political intrigue, the roles are reversed. President Lyman is the voice of reason and General Scott is unhinged. During the week in question, the audience becomes aware of the motives of and power plays by the two adversaries.
A similar real-life drama has played out over the past seven days beginning with the 480 former national security officials who signed a letter endorsing presidential challenger Joe Biden. They painted the threat of a second Trump term in office as follows. “We love our country. Unfortunately, we also fear for it.” Only to be followed by last Friday’s release of Trump’s tax information by the New York Times, one more critical dot to add to the collection which, when connected, explain Trump’s performance in the first debate.
A quick review of the facts based on the Times investigation of Trump’s finances and other sources.
- In 2003, Trump was in financial trouble following six bankruptcies mostly tied to his Atlantic City casinos.
- Between 2004 and 2016, Trump netted $427 million from The Apprentice and associated endorsements.
- That income was used to offset loses from the 15 hotels and golf resorts he purchased since 2004, all of which are highly leveraged.
- Principal on the debt associated with these properties, totaling $421 million, will come due within the next four years.
- Since taking office, taxpayers have reimbursed the Trump organization over $970,000 for approximately 1,600 room rentals at Trump properties. (Source: Vanity Fair/May 2020)
So, if you are Donald Trump, here are your choices.
- Spend four more years in the White House ripping off the American taxpayers even though the financial returns are a pittance compared to the cash needed to satisfy his lenders (whoever they may be).
- Convert his political base into a consumer base willing to watch Trump TV following an anticipated takeover of One America News Network (speaking of oxymorons), hoping to repeat the financial windfall from The Apprentice.
Last night you got your answer. In the CNN post-debate poll, 60 percent of viewers thought Joe Biden won while only 28 percent favored Trump. Not great if you’re running for president, but a 28 percent market share of any business is nothing to sneeze at. Especially, if your followers believe they will benefit from their undying loyalty to Trump (another oxymoron if they have attended a Trump super-spreader event).
The only remaining question, “What business model would Trump use to implement this strategy?” That too is no mystery. In January, 2020, Reuters reported on a Trump rally at a Palm Beach, Florida megachurch.
The event by Trump at the 7,000-capacity King Jesus International Ministry church has drawn fresh attention to his administration’s ties to “prosperity gospel” preachers who tell followers that generous donations to their churches will be rewarded on Earth with wealth, health and power.
Except in Trump case, it will be know as “prosperity media.” It does not take a leap of faith (pun intended) to imagine Trump echoing King Jesus pastor Guillermo Maldanado’s call to his flock, “You can’t have the Father’s favor until you honor Him.” Just substitute “Trump” for “Father.”
And make no mistake about it. Trump’s admiration for leaders of the “prosperity gospel” movement like Maldanado and Joel Osteen has nothing to do with their claimed spiritual mission. He sees them for what they are. According to an interview in the September, 2020 issue of The Atlantic, Trump fixer Michael Cohen attributed his boss’ esteem for televangelists to the quality of the scams they perpetrate. “They are all hustlers.”
Of course, this late-life career pivot might be derailed if convicted of tax fraud, bank fraud, tax evasion, obstruction of justice, witness tampering, etc., etc. Then again, maybe Ivanka, Junior or Eric are doing the math. How many “Free Donald” t-shirts and gimme caps does it take to raise $421 million?
Melania, one piece of advice. On election night, if Donald asks you to join him in the bunker, DON’T GO! Call 911 or Brad Parscale’s wife Candice Blount. And, thank goodness Florida is not a community property state. I would hate for you and Barron to be responsible for half of Donald’s personally guaranteed loans.
For what it’s worth.