Give the guy credit. Donald Trump makes perspective -- on him at least -- almost inconceivable, and that's no small accomplishment. Is he heading up or down? Polling well or poorly? Going to win or lose? Who knows? Take Nate Silver whose FiveThirtyEight website recently launched its poll of polls with The Donald having only a 19% chance of taking the presidency. Silver was remarkably on target in election years 2008 and 2012, but he's been off when it comes to Trump (and he's hardly alone), so who really has a clue what that 19% may really mean on November 8th?
For months and months, Trump has performed a masterful version of media jiu-jitsu, leveraging the interest in him from what seems like every journalist, newspaper, website, and cable news network on Earth into more free publicity and coverage than any individual may ever have gotten. It's been impossible to escape the man. There probably wasn't a day in months without a Donald Trump story (or often multiple ones) and he's regularly dominated the news cycle with his latest outrageous statement or provocation, no matter what else is going on. There is no Brexit without Donald Brexit; no ISIS without Donald ISIS, no Hillary without Donald Hillary. He hires, fires, invites, rejects, embraces, insults, tweets, challenges, denies, refuses, ingratiates, blackballs -- and whatever he does, it's news. By definition. And don't forget the endless scribblers and talking heads, faced with his all-invasive version of reality, who cough up reams of "analysis" about him, which only furthers the way he Trumps the world, no matter what they write or say.
You can almost hear the echoing voice from some ninth rate horror film echoing down the corridors: I tell you, you can run, but you can't hide, ha, ha, ha, ha...
In Donald Trump's world, as far as I can tell, there is only one reality that matters and it can be summed up in two words that begin with D and T. Were he to become president, he would give Louis XIV's famed phrase -- whether or not the French king actually said it -- "L'etat, c'est moi" ("I am the state"), new meaning.
During these past many months of Trumpery, Nomi Prins has been sorting out the nature of the money game in American politics (onshore and off) for TomDispatch. Now, she turns to the billionaire who has taken possession of us all. Her focus: his frenetic version of "You're fired!" this election season and how that's played out with the Republican establishment, without whom (and without whose money) she doubts he can make it to the Oval Office. Tom
Donald Trump's Anti-Establishment Scam
The Insider Posing as an Outsider Trying to Get Back on the Inside
By Nomi Prins with Craig Wilson
"Establishment: A group in a society exercising power and influence over matters of policy, opinion, or taste, and seen as resisting change." -- Oxford Dictionary
Early on in his presidential bid, Donald Trump began touting his anti-establishment credentials. When it worked, he ran with it. It was a posture that proved pure gold in the Republican primaries, and was even, in one sense, true. After all, he'd never been part of the political establishment nor held public office, nor had any of his family members or wives.
His actual relationship to the establishment is, however, complex in an opportunistic way. He's regularly tweeted his disdain for it. ("I wish good luck to all of the Republican candidates that traveled to California to beg for money etc. from the Koch Brothers. Puppets?") And yet, he clearly considered himself part of it and has, at times, yearned for it. As he said early on in his run for the presidency, "I want the establishment -- look, I was part of the establishment. Let me explain. I was the establishment two months ago. I was like the fair-haired boy. I was a giver, a big giver. Once I decided to run, all of a sudden I'm sort of semi-anti-establishment."
An outsider looking to shake up the government status quo? An insider looking to leverage that establishment for his own benefit? What was he? He may not himself have known.
He once rejected the idea of taking establishment (or Super PAC) money, only -- more recently -- to seek it; he rebuffed certain prominent establishment players, only to hire others to help him (and fire yet more of them). He's railed against the establishment, then tried to rally it to his side (even as he denounced it yet again). Now, with the general election only four months away, it turns out that he's going to need that establishment if he is to have a hope in hell of raising the money and organizing the troops effectively enough to be elected. There, however, is the rub: power brokers don't suffer the slings and arrows of "outsider" scorn lightly.
As a result, if he now needs the establishment more than he'd publicly admit, it may not matter. He may find himself ostracized by the very party he's set to represent.
Once upon a time not so long ago, making America great again involved a bankroll untainted by the Republican political establishment and its billionaire backers. There would, The Donald swore, be no favors to repay after he was elected, no one to tell him what to do or how to do it just because they had chipped in a few million bucks. But for a man who prides himself on executing only "the best" of deals (trust him) this election has become too expensive to leave to self-reliance.
One thing is guaranteed: Donald Trump will not pony up a few hundred million dollars from his own stash. As a result, despite claims that he would never do so, he's finally taken a Super PAC or two on board and is now pursuing more financial aid even from people who don't like him. Robert Mercer and his daughter Rebekah, erstwhile influential billionaire backers of Ted Cruz, have, for instance, decided to turn their Make America Number 1 Super PAC into an anti-Hillary source of funds -- this evidently at the encouragement of Ivanka Trump.
In the big money context of post-Citizens United presidential politics, however, these are modest developments indeed (particularly compared to Hillary's campaign). To grasp what Trump has failed to do when it comes to funding his presidential run, note that the Our Principles Super PAC, supported in part by Chicago Cubs owners Marlene Ricketts and her husband, billionaire T.D. Ameritrade founder J. Joe Ricketts, has already raised more than $18.4 million for anti-Trump TV ads, meetings, and fundraising activities. (On the other hand, their son, Pete, Republican Governor of Nebraska, has given stump speeches supporting Trump.)