Donald Trump, a world-class narcissist with no interests beyond self-promotion and money, in all likelihood entered the presidential race as a promotional gimmick. That’s what former advisers suggest, at any rate. It’s the only thing Trump has ever been good at — self-promotion, that is. His actual real-estate business cratered, as the 1995 tax returns show. A string of businesses (vodka, airlines, mortgage brokerage, football team) all failed. But through it all, Trump’s insatiable desire for publicity and expertise in media manipulation — from exaggerating his wealth to assuming the identity of a PR man — fueled his image and generated a certain level of wealth (less than advertised, but still).
Not only will Trump lose the 2016 election, but his brand has become that of a creepy old man, a bigot, a misogynist. His pre-debate stunt parading accusers of Bill Clinton only confirmed his reputation as a tawdry manipulator of women, someone lacking an ounce of common decency. As he blustered and rambled, stalked and hovered over Hillary Clinton he reminded us that he’s no genius business mogul. He’s a loser, a phony and a jerk.
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Think about this. Who would want a “degree” from Trump University? Who thinks he will seem classy and sophisticated staying in a Trump hotel? What developer is going to want to put Trump’s name on his building?
Sure, there will be the less-educated, poor white men who admire Trump and maybe buy his books (when they come out in paperback), but these are not his core customers, his hotel guests, his business partners or his bankers. If doing business with the country’s most infamous sleazebag now earns you a slew of awful publicity (e.g. women boycotting, Hispanics picketing), why would you do it? His name has long been associated with crass excess and garish taste, a poor man’s version of how the rich live. Now his name is synonymous with gross lechery.
Then there is some legal karma. Given Trump’s now-well-advertised treatment of women, his reputation as a con man and his well-documented refusal to pay contractors, one can imagine that rather than instituting a raft of lawsuits, he is going to be on the receiving end of many suits from aggrieved women, employees, business partners and customers. The settlement value of those cases goes up as the potential for monstrous jury verdicts looms over Trump’s head. The man who abused litigation is about to spend a whole lot of time with lawyers figuring out how to stave off litigation, meritorious or not.
To the extent Trump still had high-profile celebrities willing to indulge him, invite him, give money to his foundation (Who in her right mind is going to do that?) and write book blurbs for him, those figures will drift off. Having Trump at your event is no longer a plus, to put it mildly.
And then there is Ivanka Trump. This is the woman who defended her father as “not a groper,” even though he told Howard Stern that it was OK to call her a “piece of a--.” She told us how supportive of women he is (!). She is now either a fool or an enabler, willing to vouch for someone who would prey on her peers. Her husband, according to news reports, tried to orchestrate a face-to-face confrontation between Bill Clinton and his four accusers. Ivanka is forever at the side of men who treat women as pawns in their ego-feeding power games. So if you are a woman with disposable cash, do you really want to wear Ivanka Trump’s shoes, carry her handbags or put on her clothes? It would make you feel, well, like you need a shower. She is no role model for the independent millennial woman.
Trump always had a chip on his shoulder. The boy from Queens never had the respect of the Manhattan society crowd. But he’d show them! They’d have to do business with him because he was Donald Trump and the Trump brand was irresistible. Now it’s toxic, and he’s a leper in polite society. The fortune — or appearance of a fortune — he accumulated and his adult children depended upon (without her last name, Ivanka was never going to have a vanity brand) may be so diminished that not even he can sustain the image of a multibillionaire. He’ll try, of course. He’ll insist that he made money on the race.
Don’t believe it. The campaign revealed what a damaged, repugnant character he is and how lacking in true business acumen he is. After November he will, quite simply, be a loser.
Ms. Rubin offers reported opinion from a conservative perspective; follow her on Twitter @JRubinBlogger.