You might not think highly of former President Trump, but you have to admire his chutzpah.
Earlier this week, ‘Big Orange’ was on a private plane when the engines failed and the aircraft was forced into an emergency landing.
He was flying on a plane provided by a donor from a rally in Louisiana to his Mar-a-Lago encampment in Florida because his own Boeing 757 – emblazoned with his name – has been sat on the tarmac in upstate New York, one engine shrink wrapped and the other detached from the wing. There are unconfirmed reports there may be a broken fridge and old sofa there too.
While many of us may have turned out attention skywards and thanked our maker for letting us get through the ordeal safely, not the Donald; the former President decided it was time to speak to his army of supporters.
Back behind his desk the next day, the king of the keyboard warriors set to work. Rather than thanking the skills of the pilot, the airport authorities or the emergency services who all played a vital role in his safe passage, Trump had something much more important to tell them.
His email to his followers in the SAVE AMERICA Political Action Committee wasn’t urging them to send humanitarian aid to Kyiv, or sponsor military supplies for the brave Ukrainians fighting the evil former Soviet KGB boss Putin, or even to fund The Wall so many of them are desperate to build, it was for a much more deserving cause.
The email, signed by the 45th President, was entitled – UPDATE – TRUMP FORCE ONE.
It included images of planes soaring high, noted how having his own luxury private plane was vital to Trump’s campaign and had played an important role in making the New York casino and property tycoon ‘the greatest President of all time’.
The email then asks – ‘Do You Want To See President Trump’s New Plane?’.
Yes, of course.
But when you click the link, rather than swish images of gold-plated bathrooms, satin-sheeted boudoirs, and the state-of-the-art TVs and entertainment systems we perhaps expected, we are presented with one of those forms which Nigerian Princes, hair loss scammers and any number of online ne’er-do-wells are au fait with, asking for a recurring donation of $2500 per month.
Trump’s message implies his team is about to unveil the new aircraft and just needs a few more dollars for some curtain hooks, a head rest or two or a foot stool – but I think perhaps the plane is nowhere near that degree of air-readiness.
The feeling that all isn’t quite as advanced as the be-wigged one is suggesting is further enhanced when Trump’s note whispers; “I need to trust that you won’t share this with anyone: my team is building a BRAND NEW Trump Force One … not even the fake news media knows about it.”
Cleverly, Trump’s begging letter doesn’t say your $30,000 annual donation is ring-fenced for the purchase or completion of a new plane – used ones are on the airport lot for $20million, while you can enjoy that new plane smell for a little over $100million.
And because of the murky way Political Action Committees and their turbo-charged big brother Super Political Action Committees work – where the funds ultimately end up is anyone’s guess.
Trump is smartly remaining tight-lipped on whether or not he will run for President a third time in 2024.
By not formally declaring as a candidate, Trump can still coordinate with the fundraising committee, and they can pay for his travel, accommodation, expenses, and events.
“He’s trying to get all the benefits of being in the race while also getting the benefits of not being in the race, and you could certainly imagine that he will try for the next year-plus to have his cake and eat it, too.” Noah Bookbinder, president of the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington told Rolling Stone Magazine.
It is also politically expedient as well as enabling the former President to live a lifestyle it isn’t clear he can afford.
Republicans know that Trump is popular with many on the right of the political spectrum but that he is toxic to many, many others, including people of color, soccer moms and veterans who are all important voting demographics.
By not appearing to be the Republican’s presidential choice, it allows candidates and campaigns to avoid the ‘T’ question as they approach what are critical midterm-elections this year which could see Congress change hands.
Who knows if the septuagenarian Trump will decide to actually throw his hat in the ring to seek the Republican nomination for an unprecedented return to the White House.
All eyes will be on the cloudless skies over Iowa in February 2024 to see if that big silver bird will actually appear.