If you have people in your life who’ll tell you when you’re being an idiot, thank them. And thank God or the Universe or Fate while you’re at it. Not everyone gets so lucky.
Case in point: The former President of the United States of America, Donald Trump.
After hyping a pending MAJOR ANNOUNCEMENT for several days, everyone’s favorite naked emperor trotted out some magic. No, not like Magic: The Gathering cards, but you’re surprisingly close!
This magic came in the form of Donald J. Trump Digital Trading Cards.
I. Shit. You. Not.
In the days leading up to this blockbuster revelation, friends and enemies alike speculated as to what it could be. A presidential run? A stab at Speaker of the House? A pay-per-view event where a group of contestants took turns trying to singlehandedly throw the former President out of the window?
I would have paid at least $99 for that PPV. I’d like to see an undercard of “Donald Trump, Jr. races 3 TSA drug dogs to the LaGuardia men’s room” or maybe “Eric and Tiffany fistfight for a spot on Dad’s outlook calendar.”
But instead of all of that, we got a minute-and-a-half announcement hawking cartoonish drawings of America’s Rebound Hookup.
This is going to seem satirical, so I want to stress this: the following is verbatim from the announcement. I am taking zero comedic liberties herein because I can’t top this.
Hello, everyone. This is Donald Trump, hopefully your favorite of all time. Better than Lincoln, better than Washington, with an important announcement to make. I’m doing my first official Donald J. Trump NFT collection, right here, and right now. They’re called Trump Digital Trading Cards. These cards feature some of the really incredible artwork pertaining to my life and my career, it’s been very exciting. You can collect your Trump digital cards, just like a baseball card or other collectibles. Here’s one of the best parts: each card comes with an automatic chance to win amazing prizes like dinner with me—I don’t know if that’s an “amazing prize,” but it’s what we have—or golf with you and a group of your friends at one of my beautiful golf courses, and they are beautiful. I’m also doing Zoom calls, a one-on-one meeting, autographing memorabilia, and so much more. We’re doing a lot. My official Trump Digital Trading Cards are $99, which doesn’t sound like very much for what you’re getting. Buy one and you will join a very exclusive community. It’s my community. And I think it’s something you’re going to like and you’re going to like it a lot. They also make perfect gifts. So you can buy them with your credit card or crypto. All you need is an email address. Go to collecttrumpcards.com and buy your Trump Digital Trading Cards before they’re all gone, and they will be gone. This is my first official Trump trading card NFT collection, and you get a chance to meet me. Go to collecttrumpcards.com and remember, Christmas is coming, and this makes a great Christmas gift. [Voiceover: No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited.]
What the actual fuck.
Put all of that into a text-to-speech generator. it sounds like a robocall selling extended car warranties, or threatening to place you “under the rest” if you don’t send them iTunes gift cards.
But let’s back up a bit and break down all the ways in which this poor man (literally, because net worth equals assets minus liabilities, and dude owes a shit ton) has been let down by everyone in his life.
First, there’s the issue of doing this at all. I expect infomercial-level grift from scam artists like Joel Osteen. But from a former President of the United States?
Okay, let me be clear: I expect it from this former president. I think what I’m really trying to say is that I’m shocked to see it coming from the position.
But then, there’s the second point to consider: this isn’t just any ex-prez. This particular former President is, by his own estimation, better than Lincoln and better than Washington.
Yep. Elvis-in-1977 is better than the man who signed the Emancipation Proclamation, freeing the slaves. He’s better than the man who led the Continental Army against the British, and later set the standard for the peaceful transfer of power.
Total sucker, that Washington. He could have been king for life. Sad!
Fuck me. I’ve seen more humility in old WWF ringside interviews with Mean Gene Okerlund. To be fair, Macho Man Randy Savage was a much better wrestler than George Washington. It’s not bragging if it’s true. And, in the immortal words of Mr. Savage, “OOOH YEAH.”
Next, there’s the issue of selling NFTs. “Non-fungible tokens,” for those of you fortunate enough to have things to do other than hang out on the internet all day, were all the rage about six months ago. The idea is crypto-adjacent: a unique letter-number combination is attached to the digital art, meaning that each one is literally one-of-one. You buy it, and it could go up in value exponentially! Or it could be completely worthless, which has proven to be the much more likely outcome. Lots of hype, and lots of old-fashioned fraud. And lots of right click-save making unlimited “fakes” that looked literally exactly like the originals.
To paraphrase Andy Borowitz, who could have predicted that an investment based on imaginary money would turn out to be a scam?!
Did I mention they were in vogue six months ago? To trot out an NFT now hits my ears a lot like, “Hey kids, guess what I got ya for Christmas! That’s right, a brand-new Zune mp3 player! You guys like the mp3s, don’t ya?”
Gee thanks, Grandpa! [SHHHH! ACT GRATEFUL YOU INSOLENT LITTLE SHIT, YOU KNOW HE’S NOT ALL THERE AND THIS WAS A VERY NICE GESTURE].
But don’t forget, you could also win a dinner with senility personified!
I don’t know Donald personally, but I’ve known a few Donalds in my life. I will bet my entire collection of Trump Digital Trading Cards that the contest will be rigged and he’ll be hosting dinner with a preselected sycophantic—and quite possibly Nazi—donor. But please, Buford, buy as many as you possibly can. Fuck inflation. To hell with your family. This is an investment opportunity that only comes around every so often.
Be sure to read the fine print, though. Unlike NFTs, which are at least nominally investments, these NFTs are legally something else. “Trump Digital Trading Cards (NFTs) are intended as collectible items for individual enjoyment only, not for investment vehicles.”
Enjoy the fuck out of these rapidly depreciating jpegs!
You’ll be a part of very exclusive community. That’s what you’ve always longed for, isn’t it? Someone to recognize you as an elite? Oy vey, not one of those elites on the East Coast who run the world’s media and banking institutions. No, the kind of elite that paints your name in giant letters on buildings and airplanes so everyone knows, “hey, this guy is elite. You can tell on account of the huge letters.”
Buy them as gifts. They make perfect gifts. Christmas is coming. You know what I want more than a Zune? You guessed it. An NFT of Donald Trump riding an elephant.
And don’t forget, you can buy these knockoff Garbage Pail Kids cards with crypto, too! That’s perfect. Buy imaginary money that can’t be traced to purchase an imaginary piece of “art” from an imaginary billionaire. This is certainly not a giant money laundering scheme. Nyet! Why would you think that?
Or, you could also just go flush a hundo down the toilet and save a lot of steps. Either way.
I’ve been both a professional and amateur management consultant. I’ve read a ton of books on how to lead teams and elicit the best results from an organization. Accordingly, sometimes shit just jumps out at me.
This is one of those times, and forgive me if this is obvious.
Trump is fucking up royally, and no one will tell him.
As a leader, you don’t just wind up with a bunch of people who won’t tell you you’re fucking up. It’s not an accident. It’s the leader’s fault, 100% of the time, without exception.
The leader chooses his circle. He sets the atmosphere. He runs people off who “step out of line,” showing the others where that line really is. He shows them through his actions what he wants and doesn’t want.
The leader shows, through his outbursts and insanity, that anything other than “great idea, sir!” is not wanted. If you’re in this guy’s inner circle, it’s because you’re a yes-man. A yes-man who gets shit on a lot, no doubt.
And if he’s a world-class jerk to every single person in his inner circle? It’s not a stretch to see those oft-shat-upon yes-men elect to live in the plausible deniability of happily agreeing with the boss’s dumb-ass ideas to let him make an absolute fool of himself.
NFTs? GREAT IDEA, BOSS!
My small word of advice to the cadre of yes-men: wear your oldest suit and tie next week. Ketchup stains are notoriously hard to get out.
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