When money mediates everything

Trump’s ironically impoverished idea of doing good:

“I have a deal for the president, a deal that I don’t believe he can refuse, and I hope he doesn’t. If Barack Obama opens up and gives his college records and applications and if he gives his passport applications and records, I will give to a charity of his choice – inner city children in Chicago, American Cancer Society, AIDS research, anything he wants–a check immediately for $5 million,” Trump said.

He added that the check will be written “within one hour” of the documents’ release and set a deadline of 5 p.m. on October 31, one week before Election Day…and also right as children are heading out the door to begin trick or treating on Halloween.

“Frankly it’s a check that I very much want to write,” he said. “I absolutely would be the most happy of all if I did in fact make this contribution through the president to the charities.”

This isn’t the first time Trump has called for Obama to make public such records. The conservative, who flirted with a presidential bid last year, has long been at the steering wheel for the so-called birther movement, questioning the president’s place of birth.

OK, it is also a publicity stunt and a bid for votes for the Rethugs. And so even more meager a grasp of virtue.

11 thoughts on “When money mediates everything

  1. It’s obvious that Trump is, per usual, exhibiting all sorts of moral and social fail.

    But…is Obama obliged to take him up on the offer?

    Presuming we can hold Trump to the offer, i.e., he puts the money in escrow with a fair judge controlling it to determine whether Obama has met the challenge, then it certainly seems like a very easy way for Obama to raise $5 million for a charity. If someone offered me $500 to charity for posting my transcript and..passport applicaitons(?!), I think I’d jump at the chance. Or perhaps that I should.

    Of course, Trump is engaged in an assault against Obama’s dignity in a pretty profound way. So perhaps the benefits are balanced by that? That seems hard to say. (It might be morally easier if Trump asked him to eat a bug.)

    If ignoring Trump helps him win, then I think his obligation is clear, given how dreadfully harmful a Romney presidency would be. But it’s not clear to me that it would hurt him politically either way.

  2. It strikes me that he is so obligated. (How big would the gift have to be, if not?) It really does seem like it would cost Obama nothing – politically or otherwise.

    It also strikes me that if Trump has that kind of cash to throw around, failing to give the money to charity represents a serious moral failing on his part – quite independent of Obama’s agreeing or not.

  3. Is it plausible that the total amount of money that Donald Trump gives to charity in the next year is going to be $5,000,000 greater if Obama shows Trump his birth certificate?
    The idea that Trump will cough up $5,000,000 *more* than he otherwise would strikes me as a bit naive.

  4. Hi ajkreider,

    I’m not 100% convinced. On the one hand, it certainly seems easy enough for Obama to do and if we put all the right caveats in (i.e., it’s a net gain (to address kat’s point), Trump can be held to it, etc.) Clearly, there are a range of things most of us would think wouldn’t be obligatory under this inducement (having sex with Trump, giving him (or anyone) a kidney, etc.) For me to release my transcripts doesn’t invoke anything. For Obama to do so in this circumstance is to accede to a humiliation.

    Now maybe the net good would be worth that humiliation. But I’m not so sure.

    Is any humiliation “worse” than the suffering $5 million could alleviate? It would be hard for me to say that. And yet, I object to the “dance for me” aspects of Trumps behavior, even putting aside his reliability.

  5. I think all sorts of considerations would say the president does not play these public games with people like Trump. The POTUS has to be extremely selective about who can move him to act. Otherwise, chaos follows quickly.

  6. Easy to do? Why would anyone make a copy of his passport application, and then save it for years? And how could you even prove its authenticity, since it’s just a personal copy?

    Donald Trump didn’t get rich by writing a bunch of $5M checks to charity.

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