Donald Trump’s raison d’être for his campaign is that he is a successful businessman and multibillionaire. He has lived a lifestyle of ostentatious wealth to convince a gullible public, particularly the fawning celebrity news media — he made Barbara Walter’s list of “10 most fascinating people” in 2004, 2011, and 2015 — that the public image he cultivates is “the real Donald Trump” (his Twitter account). In fact, he is none of these things.
Donald Trump is the modern day P.T. Barnum: a shameless self-promoter, con man, and grifter. This is “the real Donald Trump.” His success as a businessman has been greatly exaggerated, mostly by Donald Trump, and a celebrity worshipping media.
Kurt Eichenwald at Newsweek takes a long investigative examination into Trump’s business history and destroys the myth of Donald Trump, successful businessman. Donald Trump’s Many Business Failures Explained (excerpts):
Lost contracts, bankruptcies, defaults, deceptions and indifference to investors—Trump’s business career is a long, long list of such troubles, according to regulatory, corporate and court records, as well as sworn testimony and government investigative reports. Call it the art of the bad deal, one created by the arrogance and recklessness of a businessman whose main talent is self-promotion.
He is also pretty good at self-deception, and plain old deception. Trump is willing to claim success even when it is not there, according to his own statements. “I’m just telling you, you wouldn’t say that you’re failing,” he said in a 2007 deposition when asked to explain why he would give an upbeat assessment of his business even if it was in trouble. “If somebody said, ‘How you doing?’ you’re going to say you’re doing good.” Perhaps such dissembling is fine in polite cocktail party conversation, but in the business world it’s called lying.
And while Trump is quick to boast that his purported billions prove his business acumen, his net worth is almost unknowable given the loose standards and numerous outright misrepresentations he has made over the years. In that 2007 deposition, Trump said he based estimates of his net worth at times on “psychology” and “my own feelings.”
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Trump’s many misrepresentations of his successes and his failures matter—a lot. As a man who has never held so much as a city council seat, there is little voters can examine to determine if he is competent to hold office. He has no voting record and presents few details about specific policies. Instead, he sells himself as qualified to run the country because he is a businessman who knows how to get things done, and his financial dealings are the only part of his background available to assess his competence to lead the country. And while Trump has had a few successes in business, most of his ventures have been disasters.
You really must take the time to read this long investigative report. Why the media has failed to do this before now is an indictment of the celebrity worshipping media.
On Monday an actual multibillionaire, Warren Buffett, also destroyed the myth of Donald Trump, successful businessman. Transcript:
The first point was when he was asked about revealing his income tax returns, which every presidential candidate has done for 40 years. He said, ‘None of your business,’ which did not go over so well. And then he started giving various explanations, and one of the explanations was that he had given his financial statement to the Election Commission, they’re listed as assets and liabilities. But believe me, as someone who’s filled out financial statements and someone who’s filled out an income tax return, I can tell you they are two very different animals. And you will learn a whole lot more about Donald Trump if he produces his income tax return.
And so that’s why I’d like to make him an offer – an offer I hope he can’t refuse. Donald Trump at one point – he says various things at different times, but at one point, and I think he said it several times – he said he can’t do it, can’t release it because he’s under audit. Now, I’ve got news for him: I’m under audit too. And I would be delighted to meet him anyplace, anytime between now and election. I will bring my tax return; he can bring his tax return. Nobody’s going to arrest us. It is not – there are no rules against showing your tax returns. And just let people ask us questions about the items that are on there.
How many of you would be afraid to have your tax return made public? Yeah, it is not – no, no. You’re only afraid if you’ve got something to be afraid about. And you’re not – he’s not afraid because of what – of the IRS. He’s afraid because of you. So I will meet him in Omaha, or Mar-a-Lago, or he can pick the place – anytime between now and election. I’ll bring my return; he’ll bring his return. We’re both under audit. And believe me, nobody’s going to stop us from talking about what’s on those returns. And send the word to him, if you will.
Now, the – another thing he said is he says America isn’t great anymore. You know, you need him. But – because America just isn’t great anymore. Now, everybody is entitled to their opinion. I disagree with him violently on that subject, which I’ll say a little bit about more later. But it’s how he explains what he would do about that, because I’m going to quote his exact words – I’m going to read this because I want to be sure I’ve got it exactly right. He says, ‘No one knows the system better than me, which is why I alone can fix it.’ Well, la-dee-da. You know? I mean, this is – only he can fix it. I didn’t really realize we were in such grave danger. I mean, there’s 325 million Americans, and if this guy leaves for Canada, it’s supposed to be hopeless for the rest of us. No, he alone can fix it. It takes some kind of nerve, or something else, to really have the notion that out of 325 million people, you’re the only one who can fix it.
Now, I think when somebody makes a statement like that, you should look at his record when he has appealed to the American public before. Now, Donald Trump has been in a lot of businesses, he’s had a lot of bankruptcies, but usually that’s just involved borrowing money from the American public. But in 1995 – to my knowledge it’s the only time – Donald Trump went to the American people and he said, ‘Join me – I’m a winner. Join me and invest in my company,’ Trump hotels and casino resorts. It’s the only time he asked the public to join, but now you got a chance to join the great man in this investment. That was in 1995. They listed on the New York Stock Exchange, and Mr. Trump very modestly made the ticker symbol DJT. Guess what that’s for? So he names the company after himself, or he gets the ticker symbol after himself. In the next 10 years, the company loses money every year – every single year. The – he takes out $44 million in compensation during that period.
If you – in 1995, when he offered this company, if a monkey had thrown a dart at the stock page, the monkey on average would have made 150 percent. But the people that believed in him, that listened to his siren song, came away losing well over 90 cents on the dollar. They got back less than a dime. And you know the history of his enterprises where he was borrowing money where one time after another, he went into bankruptcy. I’ve really never known another businessman that brags about his bankruptcies. I mean, and it – to tell you the truth, why not? I mean, it’s his claim to stardom. I don’t know anybody else that’s had six bankruptcies, but there he is.
Now, the final straw occurred this weekend, and you know about it. Donald Trump managed to get in front of George Stephanopoulos after Mr. and Mrs. Khan had told about their Gold Star son, and Mr. Khan had offered him a – Mr. Trump a copy of the Constitution. And Donald Trump said this when asked by George Stephanopoulos about –‘Well, Mr. Khan first said you have sacrificed nothing and no one.’ Quite an accurate statement. And Trump said, ‘I think I’ve made a lot of sacrifices. I’ve worked very, very hard. I’ve created thousands of jobs, tens of thousands of jobs, built great structures. I’ve had tremendous success.’ And George, a little overcome, said, ‘Those are sacrifices?’ And Trump, believe it or not, said, ‘Oh, sure. I think they’re sacrifices.’
Now, the young son of Mr. and Mrs. Khan died a dozen or so years ago. In that dozen of years, we’ve employed a lot of people. I’ve had fun doing it. We’ve made money just like Donald Trump has made. I have made no sacrifice. No member of my family has gone – no member of the Buffett family has gone to Iraq or Afghanistan. No member of the Trump family has gone to Iraq or Afghanistan. We’ve both done extremely well during this period, and our families haven’t sacrificed anything, and Donald Trump and I haven’t sacrificed anything. But how in the world can you stand up to a couple of parents who have lost a son and talked about sacrificing because you were building a bunch of buildings?
I mean, that is – when I heard that, my mind went back – and this goes back before most of you were born – but they went back to the McCarthy hearings. And at the time of the McCarthy hearings – at the time of the Senate McCarthy hearings with the Army, Joe Welch had a young assistant of his maligned by Senator McCarthy, and McCarthy went on and on, and implying this guy was a communist and doing all kinds of things. And finally Joe Welch couldn’t take it anymore and he said, and I’ll quote him, ‘Have you no sense of decency, sir?’ And I ask Donald Trump, have you no sense of decency, sir?
I might add – I’d just add one thing. McCarthy’s career went straight downhill after that.
The Oracle of Omaha has spoken.