For months the Washington Post has been badgering Donald Trump for an accounting of money donated to organizations supporting our military when he held a televised rally/fund raiser in January. Trump claimed to have gathered $6,000,000 in pledges that evening. However, according to the Post, their efforts to track the donations have been resisted by the Trump staff often failing to respond or giving false answers, so yesterday morning Trump held a press conference to challenge the Post’s claims.
Post writer David Fahrenthold looked back at the press conference and wrote : “By Tuesday…..the fundraiser had morphed into an uncomfortable test of Trump’s competence and temperament…..Trump faced prosaic tasks, where celebrity and showmanship were of little help. Could he handle the task of moving money from donors to worthy recipients? And could he handle public questioning about how he did it?”
In other words, could Trump in this relatively small task helping vets who he claims are a major concern of his, handle it well? If you look at any of the various articles Fahrenthold has written, the effort seems haphazard, with the major “tell” being that Trump never got around to donating his promised $1,000,000 until May 24 after the Post had raised questions on Twitter, “shamed him into it” as Hillary Clinton was happy to add in a call in to a cable show.
I don’t think the way the donations were handled speaks well of Trump, but watching the press conference yesterday, I don’t think it matters to those who are already solidly in his camp and even those relatively few undecideds nationally. Actually, for those still in a quandary, I can understand if you think Trump came out on top.
He got across the point that there would not have been these donations without his efforts and he didn’t feel the need to justify his handling of the money to the “lying” press. And then he did, in a very concrete way that surprised me.
He listed each organization and the money donated, interspersing attacks on the press and reminders of his generosity while simultaneously pointing out that he wasn’t doing this for self-promotion. Add in frequent assertions that it took time to distribute the money because of the need to vet the possible recipients, and you might get a sense of what a drawn out answer this was.
T0 me, it had just the effect he wanted. The list of organizations was long ($75k here and $150k there) and my gut reaction was whatever one’s criticisms, he had done a good thing. So what if the process wasn’t carefully organized and accountable by usual standards of giving. Since when has Trump gone by usual standards?
While the press seemed eager to pounce, they were feckless. Much of the time they sat there like naughty school children chastised by Trump for their dishonesty, even worse as being bad people. Trump made the press look like nitpickers, always finding fault, discouraging caring people like him from undertaking the effort to do what he had just done, raise all that money for a good cause and only given grief in return.
I just sat there thinking: The master manipulator has won again.
What I don’t understand is how the press missed the opportunity to zero in on a particular oddity of this whole process and that was the fact Trump appears to have been the last person to actually donate money, doing it just last week. Trump probably realized that looked fishy so he left his donated organization (given a million while most of the others were around $100k) off the list he gave, only mentioning it a little later as a kind of aside.
As such, the question: “Since you have donated to this organization in the past, they wouldn’t take much vetting, so why did it take so long to chose to donate to them again?” was never asked. Nor, “Why so much to that one organization as compared to all the others?”
Here is my theory about Trump’s last minute donation. Trump didn’t get around to donating until really pressed because he believed his donation was simply being the Donald. It was his idea and his show and the biggest donors were his “friends,” so just initiating the process was his contribution. The promise of his own million was just a necessary ploy to entice others. His big contribution had already been made.
You may doubt a billionaire can be that cheap, but remember everything is a deal to be made with Donald Trump. I imagine to him contributing the Trump brand was more than his fair share.
There is a certain logic in it all, but I dislike his tendency to defame everyone who questions what he does or says. If president, I imagine him in endless battles because the criticisms are only going to increase. I also dislike his manipulating every situation with falsehoods that make him look better than he is. Doing so as an entertainer I don’t mind. But I don’t want my president to have those values.
Yes, yes I know all candidates do it, but with Trump the tendency is bigger than with others. You might even say it is HUGE!
Here is a piece from the Post which gives details on Trump’s donation.