Skip to main content

The Con Man and His Marks

We don’t need Trump’s tax records to know he’s a con man.

It's no secret that he’s a scam-artist, bamboozler, swindler, hustler, bunco artist, flimflam man.

All his life, he has cheated, duped, rooked, squeezed, milked, hoodwinked, bilked, and hornswoggled gullible marks all over the world. Some of them banks. Some of them governments.

The language of grift is almost as colorful as the language of money. Or sex. The number of synonyms for a word tends to be a leading indicator of our cultural fascination with the subject.

And our fascination with fraudulent behavior goes back centuries. How many grifters, embezzlers, and other reprehensible types have we turned into Hollywood heroes? How many handsome actors have talked old ladies out of their life savings?

Like all good con men, Trump puts on a beautiful presentation. He paints an enticing picture of a good life, a better life, a life you’d have made for yourself if only those other people hadn’t rigged everything against you. But now you’re in good hands. You’re with the best people. People like you.

The con man carefully cultivates your need to believe in him. Just listen to the confidence in that voice. You bask in that confidence. You know he can make all your problems go away. All you have to do is believe him. And just do him this one little favor.

This has worked for Trump all his life. Ask Michael Cohen. Ask Mary Trump. So why should he think it will be any different now?

Because it doesn’t just work on his base. It works on us.

He thinks he can smooth-talk his way out of this mess. And he might be right. He’s throwing up a mountain of bullshit, in hopes of paralyzing us, of freezing us into inaction, of convincing us not to vote in what he assures us is a futile cause.

When he says mail-in ballots will rig the election against him, we know it’s not true. We know he’s the one rigging the election. But since he’s completely out front about it, we just assume he can make it happen. We give him the benefit of so many doubts. We talk ourselves into buying what he’s selling.

Guess what that makes us? The mark.

We know we can’t believe anything he says. So why do we keep believing anything he says?

We have to remember that stealing an election isn’t the same thing as saying you’re stealing an election. One is a monumentally difficult thing to do. The other is a con man scamming a sucker.

If Trump could do even half the sinister things he talks about doing, he’d be doing them instead of talking about them. Yes, he’s a master grifter, but he’s incompetent at everything else. He’s not convincing as a dictator, a mob boss, or an evil genius. There is nothing in his past to indicate he has either the temperament or the management skills to pull off something as complex as an election theft. Of course, he’ll try. And he’ll talk the entire Republican party into going down that road with him. But that’s only because he has no choice.

The real problem is us. We bite every time. We cede him the narrative. Every time we respond to his lies, we play on his turf. We cringe. We go into a defensive crouch. We give him super-human powers. It’s as if we’re the ones ten points behind and staring at the wrong end of a wave election.

And yes, he’ll keep on coming. He’ll make the longest of longshots sound like sure things. He’ll convince us that the fix is in, that there’s no point in even trying. He’ll plant just enough doubt, that maybe we’ll think twice about our ballots.

Oh wait, he did that already. I’m already torn between mail-in and in-person. I’m not sure which is the safer activity. Or which is the safer vote. Or whether the postal service can be trusted. And I live in Michigan, where a confluence of shenanigans is likely.

My confidence in the voting process — a simple thing I’ve done all my life — has taken a hit.

I know he’s blowing smoke. I know I’m listening to a con man. I know he’s playing a really weak hand. Still, everything about this election has me on edge and cranky.

That’s how a good con works.

 


Comments

  1. When there is dog s
    hit on your shoe you scrape it off. You have to do it or you stink the place out. It isn't fun, but it must be done. That is what voting is this time around. Scrape that shit OFF!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I personally listen to none of it. I just helped lead a project in my little community, where we sent about 20,000 out of 15 million letters to unlikely democratic voters in swing states (mostly Michigan since that is my original home state) begging them to get out and vote. I believe it will be a landslide for the democrats. I believe in my country. The day dump was elected, I proposed “the great American Ignorathon”. I figured if we ignored him, he would go away. But even I have been caught in the drama.

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Three Perfect Examples of Both-Siderism You Might’ve Missed

Let’s take a trip down memory lane, all the way back to three weeks ago. I know, it seems like at least half a year, but the invasion of the Capitol on January 6 has still not been fully absorbed. So let me direct your attention to a 60 Minutes segment from the Sunday immediately following that very dark Wednesday. Leslie Stahl did a thirteen-minute interview with Nancy Pelosi about the events of that day. Roughly twelve minutes was spent on a tour of the ransacked House chamber, with Pelosi recreating the scene — her office invaded, her computer stolen, her staff under the table for two hours in the dark. And that idiot with his feet on her desk. This is common knowledge now, but it was still a blur that Sunday. The razor in the apple came just before the ten-minute mark in the clip. Now sitting across from Pelosi, discussing the road forward, Stahl made the outrageously disingenuous claim that “You are not known as a person who compromises.” Which Pelosi was having none of

Coup d’Etat for Dummies

As coups go, this was pathetic. The mob acted on Trump’s orders, as if there were some sort of plan. Given that “Trump” and “plan” should never appear in the same sentence, what were they thinking? Suppose they actually did stop the certification of the electors. Then what? Did they think this would magically give Trump a second term? Or make him president for life? Or that they could shoot Nancy Pelosi, hang Mike Pence, strafe the floor of Congress with AR-15s, then go out and party? What was the fantasy? It’s an important question, because several thousand of these morons assembled, on Trump’s whim, to act out that fantasy. Maybe they thought Trump would reward them. Give them medals, or at least pardons. If so, they haven’t paid much attention for the last four years. Loyalty is something Trump leeches from others. He never, ever returns it. It’s a quid with no chance of a pro quo . Trump stiffs everybody. A bunch of these morons are now looking at multi-year prison ter

Alexei Navalny is a Whole Other Kind of Tough

What are we to make of Alexei Navalny? What are we to think of someone who makes himself a willing martyr to an impossible cause? How do we get our brains around this strange amalgam of Gandhi, Muhammad Ali, and Joan of Arc? First, he gets poisoned with a deadly nerve agent, ordered by Putin, the world’s most dangerous man. He wakes up from a coma in Germany. He recovers in a mere six months, though it’s unclear to what extent he’s still affected. Then, as long as he’s in Germany, he might as well go rummaging through Putin’s carefully crafted past. He makes a video exploding the myth of Putin the super-spy — the one where Putin intrepidly defends Russia from his Cold War post in East Germany. Navalny replaces that myth with the reality of Putin’s real job at that time — a petty bureaucrat in the minor leagues of the KGB. But that’s just the beginning. The same video goes on to expose — with stunning drone footage — what is surely the most corrupt piece of real estate on the p