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The Producer


Forget the long con — if the fool tips, you’re caught.

You’ll do time.

Never do time.

The Grifters

More than five years ago, when the idea he could actually become president of the United States was still considered by almost everyone to be obviously absurd, Jon Chait wrote a piece asking, “what does Donald Trump want?”

His presidential campaign seems to have come at enormous financial cost. His undisguised (or less-disguised) racism has made him an economic pariah. He has lost sponsorship agreements from a long list of corporations that want to sell things to people who aren’t white. He’s traded his lucrative brand for Pat Buchanan’s brand.

This immunity from consequence gives Trump the power to wreak apparently limitless havoc upon what is currently his party. The consequences Republicans impose for Trump’s offenses have no effect on him. You cannot threaten a man if you don’t even know what he cares about. Is Trump running to spite the reporters who mocked him as a bluffer? As an expensive lark, like the time he got piano lessons from Elton John? To use his political fame to trade up for his next wife? Does Trump actually believe he can become president of the United States?

I offered one possible answer:

Trump’s campaign started as a publicity stunt, but has since spun out of control. It’s the plot of The Producers, but, increasingly, the joke’s on the GOP. And, now that Trump’s bottomless narcissism is being fed by the spectacle of his transformation into a “serious” candidate, it’s hard to predict where all this will ultimately end up.

With Trump’s tax returns now public, the reasons for that publicity stunt are even clearer: Trump was well down the road to blowing another immense fortune, his time the one he “earned” by playing a plutocrat on TV, (how many people have lost $400 million fortunes not once but twice?), and he gambled that by running for president he could juice his phony real estate empire in the eyes of racism-loving rubes etc.

Except he won.


Now it’s true Trump has probably managed to steal a lot of money while in the White House, but that theft is the kind that will be tracked down once he’s out of office, which is why he’s so very desperate right now.

Trump’s whole life has been a grift that keeps blowing up on him when his bottomless stupidity and greed outrun the vast sums of money that keep falling into his lap. He’s a frightened little boy who has lived in constant terror that Daddy would find out, and now Daddy is everyone.

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