Confessions of a Primary Insider II

Someone close to the presidential campaigns sent this to me:

“The reason I can write to you now is because I am spared having to attend Nancy Reagan’s funeral. (I just said no.) It made no sense anyway, because I never spent any quality time with her. We were just together at some events. But any candidate today who can nail down the Reagan endorsement, even from the grave, is a sure-fire winner.

“Even those septuagenarians Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are hoping that some sawdust from Reagan’s stables floats in their direction and confers on them some of the Gipper’s bounce and vitality. Otherwise, come September, people may start asking: ‘Have we become China, run by a bunch of old people?’ Even Trump will soon be seventy.

“I know, I know, the real question is whether Donald can be stopped before he turns the White House into something resembling the Bellagio. (Apparently there are already plans for a Trump White House in Atlantic City, with a roulette wheel the size of the Oval Office.)

“Jeb tried to stop Trump, but all he got for his one hundred fifty million bucks were some great memories of the American Legion hall in Hooksett, New Hampshire. As fall foliage package tours go, Jeb’s cost more than most, but the Bushes do like to travel first class.

“Nor did Mitt Romney have much luck derailing the Trump Express. Why? For the same reason that he lost to Mr. Spock-Obama in 2012. The speech Mitt was handed to read in Utah hit all the highlights of Trump’s hucksterism writ large—and his speechwriters even managed some nice allusions to confidence men and Trump U (not exactly Harvard, is it?).

“Sadly, Mitt delivered the speech while smirking, as if he were hosting the Newlywed Game. His body language made no sense, any more than it did when, in 2012, he would go on about economic fairness, and then in the next day’s newspaper you’d find out that Mitt was installing, at one of his summer homes, an elevator for his car.

“Anyway, Trump bitch-slapped at Mitt, saying: ‘Once a choker, always a choker.’ He added: ‘He’s an elite. You see, to me I don’t consider him elite. But hey, I don’t consider him elite because I’m much richer than he is. I have a store — I have a store — that’s worth more money than him. I jokingly said that because I don’t like Romney.’ And so it was good-bye, Mitt—from Cy Young to Sayonara. He says he’s available for a draft at the convention, but then so are Rick Santorum and Jim Gilmore.

“In this exchange, you have an emerging truth of the 2016 election. In 2012 voters were uncomfortable with Elder Mitt because of his $400 million fortune and country club demeanor. By contrast, Landlord Trump apparently has $7 billion (so he says), but because he sounds like Don King (the boxing promoter) no one cares about his wealth.

“Just the opposite: Trump has managed to turn the election into a cable TV infomercial, in which voters seemingly judge the candidates on their abilities to flip condos in south Florida. (And then at the end of show, while walking around his swimming pool, Donald makes the pitch for viewers to buy his DVD series, Trump’s Ways to Wealth ‘for $49.99, plus postage and handling.’)

“So what happens now?

* * *

“The next order of business in the campaign is for Marco Rubio to get out of the race. He’s been on life support for weeks, ever since Chris Christie compared him to a wind-up toy that comes with a Happy Meal.

“OK, Marco won the primary in Puerto Rico, but, quite frankly, I work in this business, and I had no idea Puerto Rico even had a primary. Can Puerto Ricans vote? I don’t think so, except maybe for Miss America, at least if the pageant is in San Juan.

“Aside from that win, and another in the Minnesota caucus (who knew Minnesota had Republicans?), Marco’s only contribution to American political history has been to come up with positive soundbites for a series of fourth-place finishes.

“No matter how far down the voting table Marco lands, he’s out there the next day explaining that he alone can defeat Donald Trump (except in the other 25 states already contested) or that he represents a purer form of conservatism than does Ted Cruz (the suggestion in some of these spins is that Cruz is getting his political opinions from the entrails of dead chickens).

“Mind you, the real reason Marco is hanging on in the race is because none of his political handlers have figured out a sensible way for him to quit. If he drops out now, before his hometown Florida primary (March 15), Trump will grind him into dust with primetime insults about his manhood deficiencies. (‘The guy’s a loser. He couldn’t get elected dog catcher in a Miami subdivision…’)

“If Marco waits until Trump beats him in Florida, he might well be saying good-bye to the rest of his political career. A loss in Florida means he will have no chance as a vice-presidential candidate (‘Who needs a guy who can’t carry his home state?’), and such a loss might, in the future, doom him from standing for governor or even running again for the president in four or eight years. (My own take? He’d better start applying for his lobbyist license.)

“Rubio’s hatred of Cruz is another reason he can’t leave the race. Each of them has a lot of Cuban blood, and neither wants to fold his hand while the other is in the game. (I take it you saw the two of them, in one of the debates, arguing in Spanish. And then the camera panned to the smug Trump who had the look of a Texas sheriff, getting ready to throw some illegals in the back of his squad car.)

“Nor can Marco bargain away his Puerto Rican delegates for anything more than a cold plate of arroz con pollo. His only possible deal could be with Ohio Governor John Kasich, but each is asking the other to quit the race, in exchange for that person becoming the vice-presidential candidate of the successful nominee. On paper, Kasich could use Rubio in Florida, assuming he can swing it, and Rubio could use Kasich in Ohio, assuming Trump doesn’t blow the doors off him in his home state.

“Anyway, it all sounds like a promising deal in the making, except Marco’s not a deal guy. He’s the kind of politician—a bit like Nixon—who really doesn’t believe what anyone tells him and who thinks he can always get a better deal from the next candidate. He will only deal with Kasich after he, Marco, wins in Florida, or after the governor stumbles in Ohio.

“Chances are, however, that after Florida and Ohio, Trump’s security guards will be hustling both men to the exit while Sultan Donald gloats to a crowd calling for blood: ‘I gotta tell you. I never liked those guys. They’re nasty nasty guys.’

* * *

“What keeps Governor Kasich in the race? I ask because he has few delegates, no money (in the hole for about $4 million), and dismal name recognition despite running hard for a year.

Kasich’s dream is that Rubio and Cruz will somehow cancel each other out (as when you jumpstart a car and cross the wrong cables) and that he—the centrist governor from a necessary swing state—will look like a sane alternative to Trump’s gilded gong show.

“If the presidential contest were simply between Kasich and Trump, it is possible that the governor’s hopes might come true, although for the moment the 2016 campaign is one of extremes, and few Republicans (at least those voting in primaries) want a GOP Michael Dukakis at the head of their ticket. (In case you’ve forgotten, he was Willie Horton’s parole officer who in 1988 ran against Pappy Bush.)

“In New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina, Republicans didn’t want Jeb, Christie, Kasich, or Rubio—the centrists, of a kind—and even if the Ohio governor, late in the campaign, becomes the last man standing, I doubt he will generate much enthusiasm.

“For the moment, Trump is the hot reality show, while Kasich looks like a black-and-white rerun of Leave it to Beaver. On the trail, he even sounds like Ward Cleaver. Meanwhile all the electorate wants is face time with The Fonz (‘heyyyyyyyy’).

* * *

“Without Kasich and Rubio in the race, would Cruz have a chance to take down The Donald?

“It’s the only question anyone asks me, and every time I answer:

‘Without Citizens United and its tsunami of slush funds in presidential politics, Ted would be in one of those right-wing Washington think tanks, tilting at windmills, churning out monographs on how only guns can keep us safe from Muslim gay marriage.’

“To date Ted’s only genius on the campaign trail (you’ve heard the debates: he sounds like Dragnet’s Joe Friday reading out an indictment) is sweet-talking various millionaires and billionaires to fund his campaign.

“In raising over $100 million, much of its from tech titans and hedge funders, Ted has done well in the most important early primary—that in the great state of Wealth—and to date has pulled down more than all the other candidates, except for Jeb and Hillary Clinton.

“Nor, like Hillary or Jeb, has Cruz felt the need to blow his campaign fortune all at the beginning. In Ted’s mind, he has spent enough to stay competitive in the race and to survive the scrum of other Republican candidates. But he has not spent so much that he cannot now stay in the race until the others have departed and he becomes the Lone Ranger, there to track down the Donald Gang.

“To be sure, Cruz never anticipated that Trump would turn into a lottery-ticket frenzy. Ted figured he would go into the semi-finals against, perhaps, Jeb, Christie, or Marco, and that he would emerge from the GOP pole dance as the only true conservative—the Earl Grey of the tea party.

“Instead, the political center collapsed almost immediately, and he’s been forced to share his ideological purity with Carson and Rubio, among others, which explains all those primary returns where he only pulls down 24% of the vote.

“As a contestant on Political Survivor, Cruz makes a strong case for staying on the island, at least over Rubio and Kasich. Neither of them is budging, however, probably because they find Ted personally unpleasant and because neither thinks that Ted can defeat Trump. (Remember what Dr. Evil said in Austin Powers to his son Scotty: ‘You’re semi-evil. You’re quasi-evil. You’re the margarine of evil. You’re the Diet Coke of evil. Just one calorie, not evil enough.’)

“Nor is Cruz proving to be the 1984 Reagan, when it comes to winning his own primary elections. Granted, he won in his home state of Texas, and beat Trump in Iowa, Idaho, Oklahoma, Alaska, and Kansas. But for a fundamentalist tub-thumper inclined to rapture, his losses define his candidacy more than his wins. (Churchill might say of the Republicans: ‘Never have so few said so much after losing so many.’)

“Ted got nowhere in the Deep South, a natural constituency for him, losing from South Carolina to Louisiana. He’s only done better away from his comfort zone, in places like Idaho and Kansas, where Republican primary voters hate Trump and don’t think Rubio can win. Maybe he should have left that porn star in his TV ads?

“Cruz does not do well in open primaries, which bodes poorly for how he would do in a general election. In Florida and Ohio—key states for the nomination and the presidency—he’s not breaking 20 percent. But he can keep running a long time so long as he keeps his ten-million-dollar friends happy.

* * *

“By now everyone has an opinion about Donald J. Trump, and most of them are wrong. For starters he’s not as stupid as he sounds, and you can’t make $1, $3 or $7 billion in the New York real estate shark tank without having some competence as a manager.

“He has also run a thrifty campaign—mostly his big donors are the TV networks, giving him free air time—that has broad national appeal in a party to which he’s a stranger.

“Admittedly, he surrounds himself with mail-order stormtroopers, and, on Twitter, he often sounds like Mussolini. But he’s less an aberration than most wish to believe, at least in presidential politics.

“Many Republicans, starting with one-term congressman Abraham Lincoln, have run for the highest office with little or no political experience on their records. Reagan spent most of his adult life as an actor, Harding had been a lieutenant governor, and Benjamin Harrison was a white-shoe lawyer. The man with the best resumé to be president, Herbert Hoover, failed miserably in office. (He’s the case that businessmen don’t make it in politics.)

“Despite what you might hear from the other candidates, at this point Trump has a lock on the Republican nomination.

“He has won primaries, by large margins, in all regions of the country (among them, New Hampshire, Mississippi, Michigan, and Nevada), and, if need be, he can draw on his unlimited personal wealth to fund the last round of primaries (when the likes of Kasich, if still around, will be tapped out).

“Get this: Trump has only lent his personal money to his campaign. It’s an old real estate trick—to stay ahead of the other creditors. Make that cha ching sound. Overall, he’s done a terrible job fund-raising in the primaries (on a level with Carly and Kasich). Good thing he has overdraft checking.

“My guess is that the end game will come a lot sooner than anyone has predicted. For example, if Trump were to sweep the March 15 primaries (Florida, Illinois, Missouri, North Carolina, and Ohio), he would be right in calling the race over.

“Even if he drops a few of these primaries, I cannot see him massively losing on April 26 to Cruz or Kasich when the races move to Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island. Even if Trump splits the remaining primaries, he would still win the nomination.

“At this point all Trump has to fear is if, in the next few days, both Cruz and Rubio were to drop out and the race (in places like Pennsylvania, Ohio, and New Jersey) were to come down to a choice between Donald and a surging, middle-of-the-road John Kasich. Then he might wobble. But this won’t happen.

“A safer bet would be on the vanity of Rubio, Cruz or both to stay at the masquerade ball long after their dance cards are empty, dividing the Trump opposition and giving him the nomination well before the Republicans gather in Cleveland July 18-21.

* * *

“Among the pros, all anyone can discuss, if the general election comes down to Trump and Clinton, is whether Donald can redraw the map of the electoral college and do well in new swing states (Pennsylvania, New Jersey, etc.) that traditionally have been Democratic.

“Since Bill Clinton was elected in 1992, Democrats have won the White House by carrying New England, California, and certain mid-Atlantic states (plus Minnesota, Ohio and/or Florida). That coalition, which is the electoral map of Barack Obama, is the template for any Democratic victory. (When a Democrat loses Ohio or Florida or both, as Al Gore and John Kerry did, they tend to lose everything.)

“So how does the electoral map get redrawn? Because Trump (to use shorthand) appeals to angry white, marginalized males, in a general election he might do well in the Rustbelt—for example, in New Hampshire, Ohio, Michigan, and Iowa, which have been largely Democratic in recent elections. By contrast, I could see Trump losing in traditional Republican states that have large populations of Latino voters or Africa-Americans, say, Louisiana, Arizona, or North Carolina.

“In other words, the 2016 general election could well break in this manner: Trump could run strongly among Nixon’s Silent Majority, lapsed evangelicals, Homelanders, and fundamentalists, while a Democrat—say Hillary Clinton—would have in her corner older women, African-Americans, Latinos, and some left-leaning men. If so, who wins?

“The Internet has lots of do-it-yourself electoral college maps, where you can assign a state to the Democratic or Republican column. I have spent hours running my own elections. Payoffs are kept to a minimum, and I am spared debates with the Rt Rev. Anderson Cooper.

“How does the game come out? When I assign North Carolina, Virginia, and Colorado to the Clinton Democrats, and when I add Florida to that mix, they win big in the general election.

“Conversely, when the Trump Republicans win in Michigan, Pennsylvania or New York (Trump’s home city, and upstate is conservative), the Republicans win in a walk, no matter what happens in Florida or Ohio.

“I cannot see Trump-led Republicans winning Florida, Nevada, or North Carolina, but I can imagine him doing well in New York, which has had a Republican governor many times, but last voted Republican in a presidential election in 1984.

“Will the map get redrawn? I think it will. If Trump is the Republican nominee, my guess is that a new electoral alignment will emerge. (The last big shifts were in 1968 and 1980.) Among those states on the move could be Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, and Iowa.

* * *

“Here’s another hot-stove topic: Will the looming electoral map change who Trump may consider for a vice-presidential running mate? Actually, I could see Trump picking Jesse Ventura, Herman Cain or Tom Brady sooner than I can imagine him selecting some career Republican senator or governor, based on 1960s demographics. Why cater to a political establishment that has done nothing but run you down?

“Trump will probably pick a woman as his running mate, and possibly a minority. (We know he’s good at mating; the New York Post recently ran a campaign headline: ‘Ex-lover says Donald Trump was great in bed.’ The source was a Penthouse model, so presumably reliable.)

“Three vice-residential names that could be attractive to him are Condoleezza Rice (W’s national security advisor and secretary of state, who could, so to speak, trump Hillary with women voters), South Carolina governor Nikki Haley (although she endorsed Rubio in the primary, and The Donald has a prickly memory), and Susana Martinez, the Hispanic Republican governor of New Mexico.

“Among men, he will never pick Rubio but could warm up to Cruz, to unify the right-wing of the party. Kasich? I doubt it. Carson? At least he meets the bland test.

“For now my money is on Condi. It placates the Bush wing, she has 9/11 street cred on foreign policy, and she might do a good job negating Hillary’s appeal among African-Americans. Besides, anyone who could spend every Sunday night watching movies with W could certainly deal with Syria or the Russians.

* * *

“Is the Democratic race over? Well, it should be. After all, Bernie is a socialist mayor and independent senator from the nowhere state of Vermont, with only food co-ops on his CV, who preaches revolution as often as he sneers at corporations. How can PAC-Woman Hillary, with her $200 million war chest, not put him away? After all, the Democratic Party isn’t entirely in the thrall of Nordic socialism, and she has every officer holder in nearly every state, except for Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard from Hawaii.

“Bernie’s like those characters in horror movies, who after having been chained and buried (see all those Southern primaries, if not the he’ll-never-win headlines in the New York Times), manages to break out of the crypt (Michigan) and win in a bunch of centrist states (Oklahoma, Nebraska). Now he’s looking ahead to a favorable run of primaries in places like Wisconsin, Washington state, and Pennsylvania.

“At this point in the Clinton campaign film, she thought she would be mulling over her cabinet or making one of those diplomatic pre-election swings through the three I’s (Ireland, Italy, and Israel). Instead, she is chasing the ghosts of 2008 and rereading Washington Post headlines: “What should worry Clinton about Sanders’s Michigan win.”

“Give Bernie and his handlers credit for running a terrific campaign. As best I can determine, he has one set campaign speech (free tuition, death to capitalism, etc.), and a handful of debate soundbites (most have the words “special interests” as nouns or adjectives). He has no PAC money, and has never given a speech on Wall Street.

“Nevertheless, Bernie is fourth in the money sweepstakes—although gaining fast—despite taking contributions in amounts more familiar to the bearers of food stamps than corporate bonds. And while Hillary has a lock on superdelegates and African-American voters, Bernie continues to win in states across the landscape.

“As impressive, for someone 74-years-old, he refuses to give up, despite the long odds of winning the nomination. It speaks to his will and determination, if not Hillary’s campaign incompetence, that this is still a race.

“Can he win? I don’t see how. Hillary can plod along—winning in the South, losing everywhere else—but then she will hit a series of friendly, non-socialist states (Florida, New York and California come to mind), and they should put her over the top. But if the race remains close for a long time, Hillary only has herself to blame, for failing to rally a core constituency besides African-Americans and older women.

* * *

“I think the bigger question is not whether Hillary will win the Democratic nomination, but if the drawn-out primary campaign will erode her chances in the general election. Candidates that struggle in the primaries often lose in the fall.

“The interesting aspect about the Sanders campaign is that he has rarely gone negative against Hillary. Remember his lines that ‘no one cares about your damn e-mails’ and the other about no one caring that her husband was a sexual predator. In that sense Hillary remains untested on what might be called the Benghazi side of her campaign—all the negative dirt that the Republicans have been collecting since 1993.

“Sanders has stuck to economic inequality, and it has worked for him. By contrast, in the general election, Hillary will get it from all sides. She will be the redistributionist, not just the figurehead on the good ship Goldman Sachs, and much else besides. Get ready for Vince Foster’s autopsy, Travelgate, Paula Jones, Monica, Marc Rich, Bosnian snipers, Libya, the Clinton Foundation, and Servergate, all coming soon to a negative ad near you.

“What Bernie has made clear to the voters is how isolated Hillary remains as a candidate. She might have large majorities among placemen Dems and African-Americans (look at all those landslides in places like Mississippi, where they must think Bernie is Colonel Sanders), but the low turnout in the Democratic races speaks to Clinton fatigue syndrome.

“In a general election, Clinton needs to attract enough men to go with her pluralities among women and minorities, and to extend that coalition into the new swing states.

“In November, with favorable conditions, she could win most of New England, Illinois and Minnesota, the West Coast, and, I think, Florida, North Carolina, and Virginia. If the old electoral paradigm held, she would also win in places like New York (where she was senator) and Pennsylvania (part of the Clinton heartland), and become the 45th president.

“The problem with this forecast is that it assumes she is running against a Republican walking corpse (McCain and Dole come to mind), and not Hurricane Donald who will be making landfall wherever voters have their doubts about the get-rich-quick schemes of Clinton Inc.

* * *

“For a vice-presidential pick, Hillary would have fewer options than will Trump, who owes nothing to the political establishment. (I could see him skipping the convention, if Megyn Kelly plans to attend.) By contrast, with all those superdelegates lining their pockets with IOUs, nominee Hillary will have more chits to cash than one of Trump’s tellers in Atlantic City.

“NPR types would love it if Hillary chose as her running mate Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro, the former mayor of San Antonio. But she probably would need him to help out among Latinos only if Rubio were the nominee, which isn’t going to happen.

“Against Trump, she might need less a Washington boy toy and more someone who can appeal to so-called Reagan Democrats (working class men who feel the party has given itself over to Sioux dance troops and transgender rest rooms).

“Tom Kaine from Virginia (ex-governor and now a senator) might give Hillary stroke in a swing state and gravitas among men, although he hardly has a national following. She would never pick Bernie (he only gets a prime-time speech at the convention, and then on an “off” night) or Senator Elizabeth Warren (who needs another internal auditor going through her files?).

“I could see her going for a Babbitt midwesterner, such as Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown (an anti-Trump, with aw-shucks, Lake Wobegon appeal), with the hope that she could save the Rustbelt from a Trump-NAFTA defection. And there are others out there that have similar stripes. But anyone voting for Hillary knows that Bill is her co-pilot.

* * *

“All this vice-presidential speculation presupposes that Hillary tap dances her way out of an indictment over her home-brew basement server, and all those classified e-mails that, by golly, just happened to show up in her in-box.

“The Clinton spinsters even went so far as to ‘welcome’ the development that the tech installation man for the server had gotten immunity from the Justice Department, in exchange for dropping a dime on Clinton’s staff, if not the Secretary. How’s that for hubris? The IT guy is now singing to the feds, and Hillary’s media people are saying, ‘Great. It’s means we’re finally getting this pesky subject out of the way.’

“Without any privy information, I suspect that the Obama crowd will try to ice the puck on the e-mail investigation—to drag it out, without much that is conclusive, until after the election when everyone can go home.

“Having to decide before the election would be a nightmare for Obama: meaning, he either goes full Nixon and covers up the malfeasance of Hillary and her team in the State Department, or he lets the Justice Department book Clinton and her staff much as he did with the amorous general, David Petraeus.

“More than once Hillary has said she neither sent nor received classified e-mails (difficult to imagine for a Secretary of State), and then is hard pressed to explain how some 2,000 e-mails now contain state secrets. On her own, she also trashed another 30,000 so-called private e-mails from her server—for example, those dealing with Chelsea’s wedding to which the procuress for pedophile Jeffrey Epstein snagged an invitation.

“My guess is that Hillary’s e-mail scandal is like Watergate—the original crime (‘a third-rate burglary’) is insignificant compared to the convoluted cover-up.

“Listening to Hillary justify her basement server (“Every government officialgets to choose what is personal and what is official…”) is like listening to Nixon and Bob Haldeman talking about a “modified limited hang out” over Watergate. Nixon also said: “When the President does it, that means that it’s not illegal.” Clearly Hillary learned a lot during her time with the House judiciary committee, impeaching Nixon.

“Hillary talks about the e-mail affair as though every secretary of state from Thomas Jefferson to Colin Powell had their own CompUSA hardware under the stairs. When that wears thin, she scoffs at the notion that the material on the e-mails was anything very sensitive (probably just some messages from Hill and Bill accepting that invitation to Donald’s and Melania’s wedding reception).

“She also says voters don’t care about the e-mail subject, and she may be right. (At the moment, they only seem eager to watch Trump’s WWE goons eject hecklers from his halls. ) But there is something fishy about the U.S. Secretary of State working in Washington, D.C., and all her official e-mails are routed through, not even Yahoo! or AOL, but a server in Chappaqua, NY, where no one is home for weeks at a time—save perhaps for Russian and Chinese hackers. (‘We’ll leave the light on.’)

* * *

“Off course, all presidential elections are played with wild cards, and what matters in March may not even get a mention in September or October.

“For the Democrats on the trail of scandal, at least they will have the 100 pages of Donald Trump’s financial disclosure forms, on which he lists everything he owns or earns—from midtown buildings to Central Park’s Wollman skating rink, which Trump manages for New York City.

“And if the Democrats cannot pull out a few 30-second negative campaign spots from Trump’s business career and disclosure forms, it will be said that they weren’t trying very hard.

“What’s interesting about Trump’s disclosure forms is that they read like one of his speeches. Most people, when confronted with such forms, probably underestimate the value of their assets—fearing downturns or not being sure of market prices.

“By contrast, Trump looks at the forms as another soapbox from which to proclaim his Midas wealth. Thus when asked what positions he holds “outside of the U.S. government,” he lists 515 posts. His title for most positions is “President,” although in a few cases he’s CEO or chairman. (I suspect many of the positions are golf club memberships.)

“As for his assets and income, the problem with the disclosure forms is that they were drawn up for mere mortals, and never contemplated that someone would run for president who would have many assets worth in excess of $50 million (the top Jeopardy category). After that, even an asset worth $1 billion is simply recorded as having a value “in excess of $50 million.”

“For Trump’s pay days, most of the reported returns are probably also inflated. For example, he reports his income from the Trump Turnberry golf club in Scotland, which he owns, as being $20,395,000. It’s listed simply as “golf related income.” Maybe, but as I have been to Turnberry, on the sleepy west coast of Scotland, I have my doubts that the club spins off for Trump $20 million net a year. Revenue perhaps, but net income?

“Trump reports another $10 million in income from a club in Ireland, and the same from Trump National in Charlotte, NC. Trump Doral in Florida throws off $50 million to Donald, or so he says. His New Jersey golf club pays him $6,627,486, his Westchester club another $9,495,179, and a DC course $14,026, 420. That’s more than $100 million in greens fees at a time when the Tiger-less golf industry is in severe recession.

“Without knowing for sure, I would guess that Trump, like many real estate speculators, needs always to show his banks an endless cascade of money flowing into his pockets. But not many golf courses and clubs, in my experience, even make a profit, let alone return $10 mill a year.

“But then Trump on his disclosure forms would have us believe that Wollman Rink paid out to him, in income (not revenue), $8,650,450. I can hear Garrett Morris from Saturday Night Live exclaiming: “Thank you berry much. Skating has been berry, berry good to me. Thank you. God bless you. Gracias!”

“The only irony on the Trump look-at-me disclosure forms is that most of his oleaginous books (Think Big and Kick Ass, How to Get Rich, The America We Deserve, Think Like a Billionaire, etc.) make no money at all. Thank God he has a $110,000 pension from the Screen Actors Guild (a dollar for each time he’s fired someone on air).

“By contrast, Hillary’s forms (with no figures on the family foundation) list more than 75 corporate glad-handing speeches at about $225,500 a pop, given over about a year to companies on the make (many banks and brokers). Listed on the same form, Bill reports getting $500,000 a speech, at least if he travels overseas to speak. Imagine what they will charge when back in the White House.

* * *

“Where does this leave us? In a New York minute, Rubio will be out of the race, followed by Kasich. Cruz, because of his money, will hang on for a while, warning of Judgement Day more than his low standing in the polls.

“Trump, meanwhile, will try (not very successfully) to act more presidential. Ok, he’ll keep the conversation away from his finger (sic) size, but he’ll still move through the primaries as if a guest host for Rush Limbaugh or Bill O’Reilly. (‘They killed Kennedy for the same reason they killed Patton…’) Unlike other Fox birthers, this one will get the Republican nomination.

“On the Democratic side, Bernie will continue to run an excellent campaign, but that will not save him from Saint Hillary and the Dragon, who will have DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz return him to his collective vault and throw away the key.

“Sooner than you think, the conversations in both parties will turn toward possible running mates and the electoral map for the 2016 election. Wonks on cable TV shows will drone on endlessly about swing states (Trump in a good mood: “They say I’m a great great swinger”) and balancing otherwise out-of-balance tickets.

“Trump and his people will try to “Cosby” Bill Clinton, and Hillary’s e-mails, in the spin cycle, will sound as if they contained the Ultra codes. In turn, her people will paint Trump the colors of the wallpaper in an AC cat house.

“Obama will get his last hurrah with a Supreme Court nominee, but stay far away from Hillary’s server, perhaps fearing that he will turn up Bill’s Ashley Madison account (67Mustang?) more than anything about the Crimean troop strength of the Russians.

“The Democrats will spend the summer taping interviews with everyone who ever lost money in a Trump casino (‘he took my children’s lunch money…’), and we will go into the fall despairing that the grand republic of Grant, Coolidge, Harding, and Hoover has come to this. No wonder I’m a happy man!

“Your friend,”

Matthew Stevenson is the author of many books, including Reading the Rails, Appalachia Spring, andThe Revolution as a Dinner Party, about China throughout its turbulent twentieth century. His most recent books are Biking with Bismarck and Our Man in Iran. Out now: Donald Trump’s Circus Maximus and Joe Biden’s Excellent Adventure, about the 2016 and 2020 elections.