Monday, August 26, 2019

What did Donald Trump do today?

He turned the presidency into an ad for one of his hotels.

Trump left the G7 meeting in France today in more or less the same foul mood as he entered it. If he attends next year, though, he won't have to leave the country to do it: the United States is scheduled to host. Trump already has a suggestion: a hotel where he'd make money from it. Specifically, Trump suggested his luxury golf resort Trump National Doral, which is located on the outskirts of Miami (conveniently close to a Walgreen's and a Pepsi distribution center). 

It's hard to know how serious Trump is with this proposal. In remarks today, he suggested that his staff had reviewed every other possible conference facility in the country, and somehow independently picked Doral, which has never hosted any similar event. (Ever the salesman, Trump did point out the location's ample parking.) 

And it's not as though Trump has shown an unwillingness to profit directly from government business in the past. His campaign buys space in Trump Tower that it doesn't use at a premium price, and the Secret Service has been forced to follow suit. Foreign governments, like that of Saudi Arabia, have openly said that they buy hotel rooms from him as a way to buy influence.

But even if another site is chosen, Trump has at least succeeded in getting Trump National Doral in the news. It could use the press: it's half-empty and losing money, surviving on what amounts to charity from conservative groups. Many potential customers are turned off by the Trump brand, and recent reports of a bedbug infestation haven't helped matters.

Who cares?

  • The presidency isn't a slush fund.
  • It shouldn't be possible to buy influence with a president, much less this easy.