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Tuesday, January 10, 2017

L'état c'est Trump

by digby

I guess this is just fine with people but it makes me feel crazy. I don't even see lefties who railed until they were hoarse about Clinton's speeches to Wall Street saying much of anything about this.

Trump plays by different rules and I guess everybody kind of respects him for it. It's bold, it's manly, it's strong:

Donald Trump is already making money from the presidency, a post-election bump to the value of his brand that highlights the inextricable ties between his famous name, his business interests and the powerful public office he is about to assume.

Since his surprise November win, the value of Trump’s name has risen to all-time highs, coinciding with a surge in demand for everything from his condominiums and hotel rooms to his golf courses and men’s suits, according to experts in marketing, real estate and other industries who have been tracking the Trump brand since long before the launch of his political career.

“It’s the most incredible culmination of a country built on a capitalist economy, that the presidency should be fused with a branding machine and with this global corporation,” said Trump biographer Gwenda Blair.

But as Trump now prepares to take the oath of office, the president-elect’s team must manage the gush in popularity and ensuing earnings while facing critics who are already accusing Trump of using the presidency for profit.

During a Wednesday news conference, Trump and his advisers are expected to roll out their plans for the president-elect to shield himself and his family from conflict of interest charges. While Trump has resisted a complete divestiture from his company, as some ethics experts are urging, he is taking steps to address the controversy, including scrubbing his image off billboards and other advertisements tied to projects from India to Uruguay and imposing restrictions against selling any memorabilia with the presidential seal or White House logo inside his hotels or golf course pro shops.

“His focus is not going to be on the company or the brand,” Alan Garten, the Trump Organization’s general counsel, told POLITICO.

But Trump and his business allies have not hesitated to bank on the boom in interest: His adult sons have been traveling the world since the November election drumming up business for the brand their father spent decades building, and just last week, Eric Trump visited the beach side Uruguay Trump condominium that’s reportedly seen a 20 percent surge in business during construction over the past year. Trump’s new Washington, D.C., hotel also recently raised the prices on the “romanesque revival,” a bourbon cocktail that at $24 is the least expensive option at the bar.

The president-elect boasted in a New York Times interview shortly after defeating Hillary Clinton that his company is in better shape than ever, noting hotel occupancy “will be probably a more valuable asset now than it was before.”

“The brand is certainly a hotter brand than it was before,” Trump told the newspaper. “I can’t help that, but I don’t care.”

For the Trump brand, this reversal is something of a redemption after the negative publicity it endured during a bruising 2016 presidential campaign that produced an endless series of headlines about its founder’s brash and often offensive political style. Now, its namesake is going where no other corporate CEO has ever gone before in American history, a move that continues to boost the value to his brand even when just standing still.

“It’s a golden brand. There’s never been a Rockefeller or Disney who’s been president,” said Robert Dankner, president of a New York real estate brokerage that has dealt in Trump properties.

There was a time when this would have been completely shocking. In fact, it would have been unthinkable. It is obvious, open corruption on a level we have never seen. The man refuses to show his tax returns, refuses to divest his business, is openly empowering his family and cronies to do business on the side on his behalf and is happily selling his "brand" as president of the United States for profit.

I wonder what former presidents think of the idea that they would have been allowed to make as much money selling influence, access and their name while in office as long as they say they "don't care" about the money.

I am gobsmacked that this is not the biggest story in the world. But it isn't. I'm not sure anyone cares about this much at all and I honestly cannot figure out why.

Meanwhile, in case you were wondering, GOP House Oversight chairman Jason Chaffetz says he's going to pursue Hillary Clinton but doesn't think Trump has any conflicts because the president is exempt. Apparently, he thinks that makes sense.