Tuesday, July 23, 2024
HomeAl JazeeraTrump is only a con guy from New York | Donald Trump

Trump is only a con guy from New York | Donald Trump

A classic saying that originated in New York conveys a clear message: If you believe that, I have a bridge to sell you. This exaggerated criticism of a naive viewpoint was born when a renowned con artist made a fortune selling the Brooklyn Bridge.

At the dawn of the 20th century, George C Parker repeatedly marketed the span between Manhattan and Brooklyn, sometimes twice in one week. He boldly claimed ownership of several other New York landmarks, including Grant’s Tomb and the Statue of Liberty. Methodical in his monumental schemes, he hawked elaborately forged deeds to unwitting buyers, making a fortune from public property. The gullible realised they’d been swindled only while trying to erect toll booths. The police interceded and ended their brief delusion.

Con artists weave their lies with a smirk and a wink and coax their marks with a pied piper’s tune. They lead their quarry astray with smooth talk but are essentially vulgar and abusive, concocting sinister plans and secretly mocking those who fall for their scams.

Grifters who gain the confidence of the innocent are narcissistic deceivers, enticing their prey in a cloud of fabrication. Cons relentlessly persevere, finding new marks willing to embrace their seductive trance. Victims don’t realise what they are about to lose until their valuables, hopes or dreams have vanished.

Most New Yorkers recognise their home-grown breed of con artists. From the small-time crook on the street to a racketeer in a high-rise office, the self-righteous loudmouth who has no other cares but his fortune and aggrandisement typifies this persona.

The bluffing, egocentric charlatans who believe they will never be found out or caught are hard to miss. Yet, whether ostracised or jailed, they eventually are prevented from stealing from the unsuspecting.

Beyond bridge selling

Crimes have consequences. Thievery is both economically and emotionally traumatic to the injured. Parker was a popular figure in his day, and it is hard to believe that his outrageous deeds succeeded. But the law caught up with him, and he spent his final years in prison on multiple fraud convictions.

Parker was a novice compared with Donald Trump. Parker pitched the sale of a mile-long bridge. Trump promotes his thousand-mile wall of hate – a dramatic symbol of his xenophobic vision for the United States and a suitable icon for his misleading ventures.

The former president’s devious enterprises, both during his term in office and in the years before, are grand and complex. His appeal and behaviour still fool millions who somehow believe a creature of the swamp is motivated to drain it. He clings to his current presidential candidacy in one of the greatest hustles of all time.

Mary Trump, the niece of the former president, succinctly said her uncle viewed cheating as a way of life.

Trump’s chicanery began when he was a slippery real estate developer using his father’s wealth. His stint as a casino magnate displayed his primal instinct to take rather than give. Trump’s dominant, tough-guy TV image – with his catchphrase “You’re fired” – crowned his legacy of causing pain and devastation. There are thousands of examples of his scurrilous behaviour.

Trump’s con of the banking industry forms a repeating pattern. He defaults on huge debts and then looks for any angle to reduce or eliminate responsibility for the millions he owes. When at risk, caught or cornered, he takes intensely antagonistic measures to weasel his way out of trouble.

Trump’s involvement in more than 3,500 legal cases throughout his business career reveals that his intentions and their effects are often contentious. The great burden on those harmed by his insidious schemes is immeasurable.

Using up credit

Public office was a godsend for the ultimate con. Trump recognised New Yorkers saw through his game, and he tried to cut his losses. After attaining the highest office in the land, he packed his bags, knowing his illicit trade in Washington would be lucrative. Trump summed up his view: “I have been treated very badly by the political leaders of both the city and state. Few have been treated worse,” adding, “best for all concerned”.

Trump’s national pulpit amplified his bluster and confidence, destroying all possibility of staying connected to the community that had previously tolerated his antics. Eventually losing credibility across the country, he could not con his way into a second term as president in the 2020 election although he succeeded in getting many people arrested and convicted in the process.

Eventually, Trump returned to New York and faced judgement. Assuming he could hoodwink a jury with his bullying, he kept his attorneys from mounting any viable defence. Not one of the 12 jurors had any reasonable doubt that he was guilty on all 34 felony counts of falsifying business records.

A Supreme Court ruling that gives him some protection for his presidential machinations will not end his troubles in the city where he shamelessly defied the law.

Much like his hero Al Capone, a ruthless, murdering mobster eventually jailed for tax evasion, Trump has finally been caught in illegal activities that expose his greater violations and odious criminality. Although the crimes can be described as minor, the justification for his conviction is sound.

Trump’s con is starting to unravel. And like many of his notorious predecessors, he blames a selective justice system for his troubles.

The game is up

Even with the exposure of his tactics, Trump claims to loyal followers that he can provide security from demons of his design. He protests that prosecutors and anyone who opposes him are a threat to his acolytes – when the peril is his own. This projection of personal fears shines a light on the essence of his nature.

Don The Con is the self-described genital-grabbing misogynist, the wily operator flouting huge wealth while paying fewer taxes than nurses and firefighters in the year he was elected president. He is the mean-spirited racist bully who makes fun of the disabled, the conniving hypocrite who, in the name of protecting American values, oversees the separation of immigrant parents and their children, and the false patriot who incites violence and civil unrest while demeaning members of the armed forces.

Some supporters of the former president, including those who served him, are realising that they have lionised a man who despises them. They recognise the lying swindler whose priority remains increasing his fortune as the world faces unprecedented hostilities and catastrophes.

Trump remains the salesman of a phony cure for his exaggerated, deteriorating vision of the country.

The concept of fraud doesn’t capture the depth of his criminal activities and the damage in his wake, particularly to those who remain entranced. The divisiveness he has engendered will continue, yet Trump’s lifetime of deceit and bitter conflict is weighing him down. No amount of legal delays, arm-twisting, bribes or pardons will protect him from paying the price of his con.

On the cusp of sentencing with a prison suite on his horizon, Trump is outraged that he can’t avoid the legal and personal nightmare that awaits him. And despite the apparent success of his current campaign, his bridges are starting to burn. If he loses November’s presidential election, his Washington facilitators will quickly pretend they never supported him.

His frantic push to save himself is futile, and like all cons, his house of cards will eventually fall. Knowing his fantasy world could crumble, he is predictably ramping up his hostile and abusive rhetoric, furiously claiming he is a law-abiding and righteous citizen, maligned by his enemies.

Trump, the master user and abuser, spouts the desperate defence of his ilk – that he is an innocent victim. Continuing with his outlandish babble, Don the Con insists he is a great leader and the only person capable of guiding the US out of darkness into a bright future.

If you believe that, I have a bridge to sell you.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial stance.


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