Pushing Trump casino button will be a blast

If all goes according to plan, someone will have the honor of blowing up the Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City. It could be you. Atlantic City, which loves Trump not, is taking bids on who may push the button on the crumbling structure.

“This will be done remotely and can be done anywhere in the world as well as close to the Plaza as we can safely get you there!” the auctioneer Bodnar’s promises.

The scheduled date is Jan. 29, nine days after Trump will have left office. Proceeds go to the Boys & Girls Club of Atlantic City.

Before there was a President Trump, there was a casino mogul Trump. Most voters apparently didn’t find Trump a good enough president to award him another term. But Wall Street saw him as a flat-out disaster in the casino business. Trump drove his casino empire into six bankruptcies. His investors lost $1.5 billion.

Many of the losers were the little people who had swallowed Trump’s patter about his having magical powers to create wealth that they could share. Trump duped them into buying $140 million in Trump casino stock at a time when two of the properties had already gone bust. That was 1995. By 2005, the investors had lost 90 cents out of every dollar they poured into his failing casinos.

As 2020 draws to a close, Trump is running another scam, again directed at his most ardent admirers. He and his family are urging them to send him checks to fund lawsuits challenging the election results. The small print says that the money can be spent elsewhere, and it would not shock Trump observers to learn that elsewhere includes his pockets.

The president’s team has raised $250 million since the election, presumably from those who believe the election was stolen. The appeals are pretty basic, such as one asserting that if you fork over cash, the Great One may, just may, see your humble name.

At whom should critics wave fingers: Trump or the people he habitually scams? The answer is neither. Scams are not necessarily illegal. Some of Trump’s marks may derive pleasure from sending him money. That’s worth something. And cults do create a strong sense of community, another source of psychic rewards.

Are the rest of us supposed to get angry that much of the so-called Trump base won’t wear masks, won’t socially distance and are, therefore, spreading disease to their families, friends and themselves? It’s tragic that they are killing innocents. Others, however, can protect themselves by giving the maskless mobs a wide berth.

A related issue is the coronavirus vaccine. Trump has been smearing science and downplaying the virus threat. And he’s contributed to anti-vaxxer nonsense in the past. That helps explain a Kaiser Family Foundation poll that finds 71% of Americans ready to be vaccinated but only 42% of Republicans.

The odd thing is that Trump could be winning applause for helping get this vaccine out in record time. But sometimes even Trump can’t escape his hall of funny mirrors. And, as usual, the harm will fall disproportionately on followers who buy his stories.

During the 2016 campaign, Trump promised a “terrific” replacement for the Affordable Care Act. He never produced one. Meanwhile, he’s been backing a lawsuit before the Supreme Court that would kill the whole thing.

Before that, there was Trump University. Sued for fraud, a court ordered it to pay $25 million to the victims.

It takes talent to con one’s fervent fans and keep ’em coming back for more. You can’t deny Trump this: He’s got it.

Froma Harrop’s column is distributed by Creators Syndicate.

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