by Gallagher & Schleicher

April marks the 128th anniversary of the passing of American showman, entrepreneur, politician and hoax-master P.T. Barnum. It’s as fitting a moment as any to contemplate the present-day real-world circus hawked by the greatest carnival barker of them all, President Donald Trump.

“There is,” as Barnum apparently never said, “a sucker born every minute” — a sentiment more likely attributable to a banker at the time, marveling at the gullibility of those who swallowed one of the showman’s most audacious hoaxes, the exhumation of the fake “Cardiff Giant” in New York State. Regardless of the source, it’s an idea that seems to resonate still with the president and his immediate family, and it will likely form a key pillar of the 2020 re-election campaign. Every crowd has a silver lining, after all, as Barnum promised.

This is not to suggest that the base of Trump loyalists is comprised entirely of suckers, of course, or that there are not legitimate reasons to unquestionably accept his flip-flops on releasing Robert Mueller’s report, his tax returns or his grip on personal businesses benefiting from gifts, payments and other things of value from any “King, Prince, or foreign State” able to afford Trump Hotel daily rates. Surely there are a billion such legitimate reasons, all of which escape us at the moment.

While there’s plenty of room for mischief and self-interest when wielding the unequaled power of the White House and the reach of the United States government, there is also enormous opportunity to crank out some serious cash. They say, “a fool and his money are soon parted,” but in the Age of Trump, such opportunities arise about every 60 seconds. (#Blessed.)

In recent days, the president summoned into reality several such gold-spinning moments simply by mere words. Does anyone really believe, for example, that the noise from wind turbines causes cancer, as the president assured the National Republican Congressional Committee? Does it matter? No! The point is there is now a market for red MAGA-branded noise reduction headphones, made in China for a buck and retailing at $29.99. Cancer charities probably won’t want to touch this, what with science and all, but that doesn’t make this opportunity any less alluringly lucrative.

Likewise, Trump’s comment at a press conference that his father was born in a “very wonderful place in Germany” is, on its face, a weird lie. Papa Fred was born in New York. But this too misses die goldene Gans clucking at our feet: guided tours for middle-aged and older men by the bus-, plane- and cruise ship-load to some village in Bavaria, or New Braunfels, Texas for that matter, and cha-ching! With Slovenian models serving as tour guides, there’s no end to the possibilities, be they increased profits or even chain migration. We’ll venture a guess that Deutsche Bank will fund this neo-tourism, provided the financial risk isn’t too small.

These proposals just skim the surface of a much deeper tar pit of financial potential. True, some big-ticket scams have passed: ambassadorships and security clearances are going to be hard to flip, now that people are paying attention. But look at the massage parlor madam in Mar-a-Lago, proving that grit and determination can still open doors (and zippers), even for foreign nationals. Voting machines [note: ™ in China by Ivanka] now can be crossbred with ATMS because, in the end, are they really there to serve any other purpose?

By the time of the second inauguration, most who organized the first one may be in jail, so we propose running it as a purely pay-per-view event. Why settle simply for small bills from the base for the pleasure of being able to tune in when you can also charge the rest of the country higher sums to block it from their televisions? #Priceless.

True, in the Rumpelstiltskin fairy tale the tiny-handed imp who spins straw into gold in the end charges a very high price (the first-born child) for his services. But our president who spins lies into gold and sees a silver lining in every crowd has a really, really great discount available today only for special friends like you: Democracy’s last-born child.

David Gallagher is a transplanted Texan, living and working in London and tweeting @TBoneGallager. David Schleicher practices law and blogs at This piece originally appeared in the Sunday, April 14, 2019 Waco Tribune-Herald, where the Davids are on the Board of Contributors.

One Reply to “Every Crowd a Silver Lining”

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