By Ralph Nader
Donald Trump brags about “branding” his political opponents. He repeatedly has called Marco Rubio “Little Marco,” Ted Cruz “Lyin’ Ted,” and Hillary Clinton, “Crooked Hillary.” Repetition makes these epithets stick – a lesson Trump has drawn from the advertising world and his own fragile ego.
Astonishingly, his opponents have not successfully branded him – choosing instead to first ignore and then argue with Trump, who is a chronic overtalker, shouter and prevaricator. The mass media, delighted with its ratings, has until recently rarely chosen to challenge his false assertions, preferring instead to let him perpetuate his mendacities.
There are exceptions – two of the leading ones being Glenn Kessler, the Washington Post Fact Checker who has handed Trump a record 28 Four-Pinocchio awards and David Cay Johnston, a Pulitzer Prize winning reporter who has written, “Twenty One Questions for Donald Trump.”
Based on these and other solid published sources, the new moniker or nickname for Trump should be “CHEATING DONALD.”
Cheating Donald rings true with many bells. He has cheated on his workers, including undocumented laborers. Through his numerous tactical company bankruptcies, he has cheated on his creditors and employees who were thrown out of their jobs. Fortune Magazine’s 1999 list of the 496 most admired companies ranked his casino company at the bottom – worst or almost worst in management, use of assets, employee talent, long-term investment value and social reasonability. And that was before Cheating Donald’s company later went bankrupt.
He cheated on consumers – most recently the students at Trump “University” that New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman called an “illegal educational institution.”
He has cheated on taxpayers – using political influence to get tax abatements for his properties, while admittedly paying little or no taxes on his tax returns he refuses to disclose. His first major tax escape was on a New York City hotel worth at least $400 million over 40 years, according to David Cay Johnston. As the highly regarded director Citizens for Tax Justice, Robert McIntyre, has often said, tax breaks for the corporations and super-rich mean other taxpayers have to pay more, receive fewer services or experience larger public deficits.
He has cheated voter beliefs by inflating his wealth and business prowess as credentials for running the federal government, thereby concealing his many business limitations, failures and his true net worth (Why won’t Mr. Trump release his tax returns?).
He has cheated on matrimony, boasting about his many past infidelities, including, he says, with “seemingly very happily married and important women.”
Finally, he has cheated the Truth, producing a veritable Trump Tower of false statements, twisting facts into webs of deception while vaingloriously shouting to rallies that “we’re going to win, win, win, win, win, win, win until you get sick of us winning” (without ever once answering the question of “how”).
Since announcing his bid for the presidency in June 2015, Trump’s campaign trail has been strewn with illusory promises, and a staggering number of self-glorifications suggesting deep personal instabilities. These childish displays of hubris confirm day after day it is all about him and not the American people. Not exactly presidential timber.
Yet the Republican Party leaders and their corporate funders have been unable to stop his rampage, which has been aided and abetted by a profit-seeking commercial media (regaled by Leslie Moonves, CEO of CBS who said of the rise of Trump “It may not be good for America, but it’s damn good for CBS”).
Soon Cheating Donald will be turning the GOP brand into the Trump Dump, with far-reaching tumult and uncertainty for the same business community which has been so favorably predisposed to past GOP nominees. For Cheating Donald is not only uncontrollable for the political establishment, he also lacks control over himself and is routinely driven to disparagingly brand anyone who takes him to task. He has demonstrated time and again that he lacks the self-control to negotiate the “great deals” that have become the hallmark of his campaign’s message. Cheating Donald is the latest manifestation of what could happen to this country when commercialized elections separate from the discipline of a democratic society. This is turning our land into a plutocratic-oligarchic domain, where the Rich rule the Many by entrenching the corporate state so dreaded by our founding fathers.
Can Cheating Donald be stopped by the Republican Party at its July Convention? He has the 1237 delegates needed to win, assuming no significant defections. But there is a reason why John Kasich and Ted Cruz are keeping their delegates. Because Cheating Donald could push one cheat or two too far and implode. Anything is possible. Just look at how far Cheating Donald has come in this reputed “land of the free, home of the brave” with empty bombast, brass and bullying.