Trump University ==> pandemic failure?

Hot damn this report in WP is good, “Spin, deride, attack: How Trump’s handling of Trump University presaged his presidency”

The judge was out to get him, he said. So was that prosecutor in New York, whom he called a dopey loser on a witch hunt. So were his critics, who he said were all liars. Even some of his own underlings had failed him — bad people, it turned out. He said he didn’t know them.

Donald Trump was in trouble.

Now, he was trying to attack his way out, breaking all the unwritten rules about the way a man of his position should behave. The secret to his tactic: “I don’t care” about breaking the rules, Trump said at a news conference. “Why antagonize? Because I don’t care.”

That was 2016. He was talking about a real estate school called Trump University.

Trump University, which shut down in 2011 after multiple investigations and student complaints, was treated as a joke by many of Trump’s political opponents — much as they treated Trump Steaks or Trump Vodka. But to those who knew the school well, it wasn’t a joke.

It was a premonition.

The saga of Trump University showed how far Trump would go to deny, rather than fix, a problem, they said — a tactic they have now seen him reuse as president many times, including now, in the face of a worsening pandemic. For months, President Trump promised something wonderful but extremely unlikely — that the virus would soon disappear.

John Brown, a former Trump University student from New York, said he understands why some people believed him.

“This is how people get sucked [in]. Because they want it,” Brown said. “That’s what happened to me.” He wanted to succeed so badly that he paid $25,000 for a Trump University “mentorship” program, which left him deeply disappointed.

Another former student, Bob Guillo, said he felt a deep frustration at being unable to prevent Trump University’s saga from playing out again on a far larger stage.

“I tried to warn the American people that if Donald Trump was doing this to me, he’s going to do the same thing if he’s ever elected president,” Guillo said, referring to interviews and TV appearances he did during the 2016 election. “Unfortunately, people believed Trump. And they didn’t believe Bob.”

Now, many former students, instructors and lawyers who sued Trump wonder whether, as he faces a worsening pandemic, they see parallels to another chapter of Trump University’s story. Its end.

Eventually, they said, Trump’s attacks could not conceal the huge gap between Trump University’s promises and its results. He began to lash out, attacking his antagonists as conspirators and fools

“It’s something I think about all the time,” said Tristan Snell, who was the lead attorney for the New York state attorney general’s office in a lawsuit against Trump University. Snell said the school “had a fulfillment problem”: It could not deliver on the enriching real estate secrets it promised.

“Maybe that’s a good metaphor for what’s happening in America is that we have a fulfillment problem,” he said. “You’ve sold X and Y and Z and you can’t actually fulfill the order.”

In this case, Snell said, what Trump promised but cannot provide is not real estate secrets. It is something even harder to deliver — victory against a deadly disease.

“The difference this time is the fact that he’s running his game on a virus,” Snell said. “And the virus doesn’t care.”

About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State http://faculty.chass.ncsu.edu/shgreene

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