America, take note. The recent failure of the The U.S. Women’s Open at Trump national is a blueprint on how everyday people can defeat the grifter-in-chief.
Donald Trump was the worst-behaved human in American history, ever, on a campaign trail. He won by appealing to a population in transition’s worst fears buffeted by racist, sexist, misogynist and threatening rhetoric the likes of which appeal most to neo Nazis, the terminally overfed and white guys who “build relationships” on the golf course.
…But more on golf in a second.
The Trump Administration is just six months old and already it has shattered hundreds of norms (per week) en route to eroding a democracy into a shady designer knock-off family-run kleptocracy propped up at the bidding of his fiscal overseers, specifically Russian oligarchs and fathers of aspiring Eastern Bloc pop stars who help fund beauty pageants in Moscow.
Trump brushed off questions of conflicts of interest with his businesses multiple times on the campaign trail as well as during his transition into the White House. “The law’s totally on my side. The president can’t have a conflict of interest,” he said. “In theory, I could run my business perfectly and then run the country perfectly. There’s never been a case like this.”
The last part, he’s totally right.
…But his refusal to divest (remember, Jimmy Carter famously sold his share in his peanut farm when he took office as to not arouse any suspicions?) from his privately held company where he essentially enjoys total autonomy is simply against not only the spirit of the law, but the law itself. Provision in Article I, Section 9 of the Constitution, often referred to as the Emoluments Clause, while it can entertain a vast number of translations by Constitutional scholars, was specifically drawn up to prevent oligarch kleptocrats who also happen to be cults of personality with doll hair to take over the highest office in the land and use it for personal fiscal gain.
Beyond self-dealing, Trump the president has implicitly and explicitly shown no understanding of—nor curiosity about—how the president can use his power and how he cannot. For him, he’s still running a shady business where it’s OK to break laws and lawyer his way out of trouble and along the way, deceive and distract and slither and ignorant out of immediate peril. Say what you will about the man, but after 40 years of the same, he’s a master at it.
Trump’s gloriously unhinged and inaccurate in accordance to all things factual sit-down with the NYT Wednesday was further proof of this.
He used some tried and true authoritarian tactics during the interview: palace intrigue in the form decrying the work of AG Jeff Sessions (when in fact, Sessions is his chief enabler on the judiciary), letting all Americans know, once more, he’s never paid for anything we pay for (health care costs $1 till you’re 70 then you “get a nice plan”) and claiming intelligence—the last bulwark to his ultimate power grab, is also under his jurisdiction. The “FBI person really reports directly to the president of the United States, which is interesting.”
Lest we forget the free press—the fourth estate and the last watchdog over such a type of mad man—is still “the enemy” of the people.
Trump also criticized Bob Mueller, who is heading an independent counsel to investigate Trump’s campaign ties to Russia. Trump warned that Mueller best not look into his family empire or personal finances. But it wouldn’t make sense not to, considering that Trump’s refusal to divest himself while in office means personal finances have every influence over his decisions as president.
Investigators, according to a recent story in Bloomberg, are are looking at “Russian purchases of apartments in Trump buildings, Trump’s involvement in a SoHo development in New York with Russian associates, the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow and Trump’s sale of a Florida mansion to a Russian oligarch in 2008 …Agents are also interested in dealings with the Bank of Cyprus, where Wilbur Ross served as vice chairman before he became commerce secretary, as well as the efforts of Jared Kushner”
…I know, it’s a lot. So, let’s take it back to golf for a second. Specifically, to an event that took place last weekend that went largely overlooked, unattended …and unwatched—the 2017 U.S. Women’s Open.
A couple years ago, U.S. Golf Association executive director Mike Davis told members of the USGA’s executive committee that Trump threatened to sue the organization if it moved the 2017 U.S. Women’s Open from its scheduled venue, the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J.
Davis at the time was worried that Trump, who had just announced he was running for president, would have a conflict of interest—being paid for the tournament and (potentially) holding the highest office in the land. Davis was right, that’s a no-no. At least, it used to be.
On top of this, Davis didn’t want his association or its biggest event domestically to be linked with any one type of politics or policy for fear of alienating a portion of his audience or athletes. During a conference call in 2015 with Trump, Davis expressed concern that USGA did want to be called into question conflict of interest—the presidential candidate apparently threatened litigation.
Nothing was done by the USGA to change venues and all quieted down until October 2016, when Trump’s hot mic Access Hollywood audio tape was made public. Trump showed his true colors noting his celebrity had no bounds and that he could use his status to force himself on women, kiss them and “grab them by the pussy.”
As a reminder, yes, this guy still fucking won two weeks later.
The release of information was of particularly embarrassing for the USGA. As the national governing body for golf in the United States, the association has tried for decades to get more women involved in the sport, including hosting women’s only clinics and encouraging private clubs to drop discriminatory policies.
In the wake of the tape release, three U.S. senators, Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Edward Markey (D-Mass.) and Bob Casey (D-Pa.), sent a letter to the USGA asking them to move the 2017 U.S. Women’s Open away from Trump National. “The decision that the USGA makes is more consequential than simply the geographic location of a golf tournament. In declining future association with a brand that degrades women, the USGA and LPGA have an opportunity to make clear to the world, and most especially young Americans, that our nation will not tolerate nor do business with any company that condones or excuses action that constitutes sexual assault.”
The USGA backed down and did not move the tournament. Executive director Davis, still under the threat of Trump litigation, continued to kowtow. “When we came here, it was all about coming to a great golf course playing the greatest championship in women’s golf. The USGA, since its founding in 1894, has never been involved with politics. Our focus is solely on the game of golf.”
Of course, the real problem Davis had, as does every American citizen, is Trump’s threats are now backed by the power of the highest office in the land.
So how do we win?
Well, not showing up or shelling out for Trump is a start. The Trump organization refuses to release the numbers of attendees to the U.S.Women’s Open, but they don’t seem good. Janeen Driscoll, director of public relations for the USGA, said attendance numbers were not available because of a, um, ticket scanner problem.
Actually a handful of people did show up, see: protestor pic above. But for the most part, the gallery was empty last weekend in a time when the USGA majors are gaining steam. In 2015, the USGA touted record-setting attendance for the U.S. Women’s Open when it was held at Lancaster Country Club in Pennsylvania with 134,016 spectators for the week. Sparse crowds at Trump National last weekend were buffeted by historically bad TV ratings, which were the lowest for the broadcast more than three decades.
The event was a failure. The president’s stamp on it assured that much.
Hopefully, USGA’s Mike Davis learned a valuable lesson—one that all Americans should heed—when you succumb to the threats of a ruthless grifter, you are going to lose. And in the process, everything else—ratings, money, prestige and eventually, your own integrity—goes away too.