Every successful political campaign begins with a good story. CNN’s Chris Cillizza reported in October 2018: “At the heart of President Donald Trump’s success story is this idea: He took a small amount of money — in the form of a loan from his father, Fred — and turned it into billions of dollars.”
“My whole life really has been a ‘no’ and I fought through it,” Trump told a crowd in New Hampshire way back in October 2015. “It has not been easy for me, it has not been easy for me. And you know I started off in Brooklyn, my father gave me a small loan of a million dollars.”
That is quite a story — and it is purely fiction. An investigation by The New York Times (10/2/2018) found that “Trump received at least $413 million in today’s dollars from his father’s real estate empire, much of it through tax dodges in the 1990s.
“Mr. Trump won the presidency proclaiming himself a self-made billionaire, and he has long insisted that his father, the legendary New York City builder Fred C. Trump, provided almost no financial help.
“But The Times’s investigation, based on a vast trove of confidential tax returns and financial records [more than 100,000 pages of financial documents], reveals that Mr. Trump received the equivalent today of at least $413 million from his father’s real estate empire, starting when he was a toddler and continuing to this day.
“By age 3, Mr. Trump was earning $200,000 a year in today’s dollars from his father’s empire. He was a millionaire by age 8. By the time he was 17, his father had given him part ownership of a 52-unit apartment building. Soon after Mr. Trump graduated from college, he was receiving the equivalent of $1 million a year from his father. The money increased with the years, to more than $5 million annually....
“And remember that $1 million loan Trump talked so much about on the campaign trail? The Times reports that the total loan by Fred Trump to his son, Donald, was actually $60.7 million or — and brace yourself here — $140 million in today’s money.”
The nonfiction book, Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man, by clinical psychologist Mary L. Trump, PhD (the president’s niece) was an international bestseller, ranked #1 in Canada, Ireland, the United Kingdom, and the United States, and selling more than 1.35 million copies.
Disloyal, an account of President Trump’s business empire, political campaign and presidential administration by his former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, has sold more than a million copies.
A million copies sold is no small thing — unless you compare it to the Harry Potter books by J.K. Rowling. More than 500 million Harry Potter books have sold worldwide. Perhaps Trump has learned a simple truth: Fiction sells better than nonfiction.
Hoax: Donald Trump, Fox News and the Dangerous Distortion of Truth, by Brian Stelter, describes how Trump and Fox News have created an alternate universe by repeating the same false narratives: Caravans of criminals marching north to invade America. Ukraine, not Russia, interfering in the 2016 election. Coronavirus is no more dangerous than the common flu. And most recently, Democrats will try to steal the 2020 election.
Do Trump supporters read these nonfiction books? I seriously doubt it. Do Trump supporters watch Fox News? You bet your MAGA hat, they do. In a (10/21/2019) Washington Post story, Philip Bump reports: “The most loyal Trump allies are Republicans who watch Fox News.”
Before he became chairman and CEO of Fox News (from which he resigned in 2016 after 23 women accused him of sexual assault), Roger Ailes was a media consultant for Republican heavyweights such as Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, and Rudy Giuliani.
In 1984, Ailes and Larry McCarthy produced a campaign ad, “Bloodhounds,” for senatorial candidate Mitch McConnell. A hunter leads a pack of bloodhounds (or they lead him) on a search for incumbent Democratic U.S. Senator Walter “Dee” Huddleston, who had missed a few votes in the Senate. The ad appears quite comical now, but it helped McConnell eke out a narrow upset (less than 0.5%) over Huddleston.
36 years later, McConnell’s campaign still features the best attack ads money can buy. They are not as comical as “Bloodhounds,” but they are every bit as ridiculous. Most of the McConnell ads attack Democratic challenger Amy McGrath as being “too liberal for Kentucky.” Anyone who has served in the military will tell you there is no such thing as a “liberal” lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Marine Corps. (Nor are there any Amish.) Apparently, McConnell was not in the military long enough to learn that.
According to Wikipedia, McConnell enlisted in the Army Reserves in March 1967, shortly before his draft deferment was due to expire. His first day of training at Fort Knox, Kentucky was in July 1967. Shortly after his arrival, he was diagnosed with optic neuritis and deemed medically unfit for military service. After five weeks at Fort Knox, McConnell was honorably discharged.
McConnell was supposedly unfit for military service when he was 25. Yet here he is now at age 78, claiming he is fit to serve another six years in the Senate?
Donald Trump is even worse. In February 2019, Trump’s longtime personal attorney Michael Cohen testified under oath before the House Oversight Committee that “Mr. Trump claimed (his medical deferment) was because of a bone spur, but when I asked for medical records, he gave me none and said there was no surgery. He finished the conversation with the following comment: ‘You think I’m stupid, I wasn’t going to Vietnam.’ ”
Draft dodging Donald Trump had the audacity to attack Senator John McCain, a former prisoner of war in Vietnam and a military hero. “I like people who weren’t captured,” Trump said in July 2015.
Similarly, we now see McConnell, who served all of five weeks in the Army Reserves, attacking Amy McGrath as a liberal, and attacking her great service to our country.
McGrath launched her campaign with a simple, honest ad called The Letter:
“I was 13 years old, and I knew exactly what I wanted to do with my life. I sat at this table. And I wrote a letter. To my senator. Telling him I wanted to fly fighter jets in combat. To fight for my country.
“And that women should be able to do that. He never wrote back. I’m Amy McGrath and I’ve often wondered how many other people did Mitch McConnell never take the time to write back.”
During her 20 years of military service, McGrath flew 89 combat missions against al-Qaeda and the Taliban. Toward the end of her service, McGrath worked as a political adviser, a liaison officer, and an instructor at the United States Naval Academy.
During McConnell’s 36-year tenure in the Senate, the national debt has soared from $1.5 trillion in 1984 to more than $28 trillion today. Congress’ approval rating has plummeted from 80% in 1984 to just 18% today. Mitch McConnell is the “swamp” that Trump claimed he would drain.
McConnell does not deserve another term in Congress. 36 years is long enough.
Mark Heinz lives at Nolin Lake. Visit his website at amazon.com/author/markheinzbooks.