Standing for political office can have some odd benefits. Take Monty Brewster. His task was to spend $30 million in 30 days in order inherit $300 million. And try as he could, he found it hard to spend the money. Then he formed a plan and he ran for the position of Mayor of New York. That cost him a packet. Of course, I am talking fiction.
Brewster’s Millions, the movie in which the late Richard Prior played the eponymous central character, was a good tale about money, and how the number of your friends can be closely correlated with how much money you are spending.
But I also remember it as a story about how expensive it is to seek political office. Judging by the recent attempt by some Republican politicians to stand for leadership of the Republican Party, I wonder if their motivation was much the same as Brewster’s. But maybe Donald Trump has a similar idea, but with a somewhat different angle.
Has he been throwing his millions, or is that billions, at becoming President? No, instead, his billions have bought him credibility, as he stands on the platform of ‘brilliant businessmen’. Not that everyone sees him in that light. Warren Buffett, who really is a brilliant businessman/investor, recently said that a monkey throwing darts could have made a better return than Trump from his investments.
As it happens, I think Mr Buffett is being unfair, because frankly he knows next to nothing about the ability of monkeys to throw darts. Now I am not saying that Mr Trump’s performance stands comparison with a monkey, but I suspect that if we were to research this more thoroughly, we would find that the monkey’s performance might have in fact been a lot better.
As it happens, the Trump presidential campaign has largely been funded by the public. In July, he raised around $82 million, largely through small donations. Trump himself has said that he has self-funded his campaign, although not everyone was impressed when it emerged that around $1.1 million was paid out to his family and business contacts. But some have suggested that an awful lot of the costs associated with his campaign have involved payments to his very own companies.
The New York Times quoted Paul S. Ryan, an expert on campaign finance with the US Legal Center, as saying that Trump “could end up turning a profit if he repaid himself for the campaign loans.” Adding: “He could get all his money back plus the profit margin for what his campaign has paid himself for goods and services.”
Back in the year 2000, Trump said: “It’s very possible that I could be the first presidential candidate to run and make money on it.” So, if that is so, then maybe he is a tad better at business than a monkey.
On the other hand, I can exclusively reveal new research, carried out among members of my family, that not everyone is that keen on Trump, and furthermore, might be reluctant to stay at one of his hotels or play golf on one of his courses, if they could afford to do so, which in the case of my sample, they can’t. But, I have a high confidence level that similar conclusions might be drawn if research was carried out among those who have stayed at his ‘joints’ in the past.
Yes, he may be a hit with white, disenfranchised workers across the United States, but these people don’t tend to be consumers of Trump’s somewhat expensive golf clubs. Or stay at his hotels.
It turns out that bookings at Trump Hotels were down almost 60% in the first half of this year, this is based on research from Hipmunk, an online travel company, and looking at bookings across its sites.
Hipmunk said: “While overall Hipmunk hotel bookings have been on the rise year-over-year, that has not been the case with bookings of Trump Hotels.
It expanded slightly saying: “The share of bookings at Trump Hotels on Hipmunk as a percent of total hotel bookings are down, decreasing 58.46% compared to the same period last year.”
So this has left us with a number of imponderables.
Is Trump really better at darts than a monkey, and if so, can he apply his dart playing acumen to his lousy record as an investor?
Or, is he really trying to emulate Brewster, but blowing his fortune in a more-subtle way, by damaging his brand, by saying things that are not considered to be altogether politically acceptable?
Still, at least Clint Eastwood doesn’t appear to agree with the above view.
In an interview with Esquire magazine, the actor known for long lingering scenes in Sergio Leone movies, with Ennio Morricone music accompanying his close ups, said: “He's [that’s Trump] onto something because secretly everybody's getting tired of political correctness, kissing up . . . That's the kiss-ass generation we're in right now. We're really in a pussy generation. Everybody's walking on eggshells.” He continued: “We see people accusing people of being racist and all kinds of stuff. When I grew up, those things weren't called racist." (Clint, did you spend too much time with that monkey (orangutan) in ‘Every which way but loose’?)
Well, say one thing for Trump, he doesn’t walk on eggshells.