So when it was first reported that Donald Trump and his current wife had filed for residency in Florida, the White House wasted no time in saying it was because of favorable tax laws.
Scott Wong @scottwongDCHe came of age in Queens, built Trump Tower ... Trump — rich, bombastic and to many Americans the epitome of a New Yorker — was intertwined with the city he called his lifelong home. No longer. https://t.co/T5HTs7jrfP
And Donald, as his wont, wasted no time in blowing up the flimsy official messaging.
Sure, he mentioned taxes, but only as part of a general grievance against the city and state that will never love him back, even after he reluctantly honored some of his obligations to them.
I didn't beat his tweets, but I hadn't seen them when I cried foul on the official story.
Adrian Carrasquillo @CarrasquilloWhite House officials declined to say why Mr. Trump changed his primary residence, but a person close to the president said the reasons were primarily for tax purposes. https://t.co/qf6gl1xVZK
As I said on Twitter, I've been watching this for month. When Donald "kicked off his re-election campaign" in mid-June of this year (bearing in mind that he filed for re-election in January of 2017 and that his endless rallies in the intervening years have all been campaign events), he called Florida his "first home" and spoke of having kicked off his campaign there four years before.
Back in 2015, there was no unified opposition to him. New York largely loathed him and thought of him as a joke in equal parts, but few enough people thought the dark horse presidential run he had teased for years would be a serious threat that he could stage a launch with paid actors (well, theoretically paid, anyway) and the city and the country's instinct for spectacle would do the rest.
He knows that if he tried to do a public event in Manhattan now, though, the spectacle would not be one under his control and the optics of his "official launch" would have been a disaster.
And the optics are what matters to him. Just as the most important point of an investigation for his propaganda machine is the announcement, the sole reason he had a "kick-off" was for the coverage. He has been campaigning constantly since he won, even turning his first presidential appearance at the CIA in front of their Memorial Wall into a commercial for the Trump campaign brand. But him beginning his campaign is guaranteed coverage, and coverage of a positive event counts as positive coverage. A beginning is exciting!
It also gives the impression that he hadn't really been trying, so even with a two and a half year head start he could pretend that his approval rating of the moment was a baseline and he was coming up from behind the Democratic candidates.
To be quite honest, if we don't get another de facto kick-off in or around January of 2020, I'll be very surprised. If his presidency has not been completely torpedoed, I expect his mouthpieces to claim that the Democrats have been campaigning since their primary campaigns started but he has only just begun and still look at how he's doing.
Trump's home in Manhattan is an icon he built for himself, erasing a historically significant Manhattan landmark and destroying art and history in the process. He did this thinking that in doing so, he was buying himself a place in Manhattan history and culture, but that place never materialized. He used his father's money -- money amassed by being unobtrusively shady in working class-respectable Queens -- to be loudly and obviously shady in Manhattan among the glittering illuminati and intelligentsia of the upscale social scene.
The movers and shakers moved away when he came near and wouldn't shake his hand. His mentions in the social rags were usually derogatory. Spy, the magazine made by and for the cool kids of the day, labeled him a "short-fingered vulgarian" and he never forgot that.
And the New York Times, the old gray lady herself, the paper that was read by the people whose favor he most wanted to curry and whose good opinion he would have found most flattering, never quite took to him.
But Donald Trump is a man who creates his own reality, and his tower became a landmark and a tourist attraction. Crowds thronged to it. Big respectable brands moved into it. Manhattan didn't care for him, but when people came to Manhattan, they knew his name and his face. The names of the people who snubbed him wouldn't mean anything to them.
He could live in this version of Manhattan and still feel like a king.
Now, though? Now he can't spend any significant amount of time on 5th Avenue without the bubble bursting completely. If he tried to do any kind of official campaign event. The only way to prevent the venue from being completely mobbed by protesters would be to shut down so much of the city that it becomes a story.
He went from "could shoot someone in broad daylight on 5th Avenue" to "couldn't get arrested in this town".
If there was any doubt about that, it was laid to rest last night when he went to UFC 244 at Madison Square Garden. If he was going to find his people in New York City, that seemed like a good bet. The most macho of macho sports. The organizer is an old friend of his... or at least, someone who owes him for having helped to launch the brand. Dana White's defense of Donald Trump, that he wouldn't say anything bad about him because he was there at the start when few others were, isn't exactly a full-throated endorsement, is it?
And while Trump's closest supporters eagerly showed videos of Trump supporters up close in order to emphasize the cheering and chanting in his favor, but videos from the rest of the arena showed that the reaction was overwhelmingly negative, and more so the further you got from the Trump party and their VIP seating.
That tweet is the head of a thread that shows multiple videos from different angles and sections of the venue.
Trump's enablers on Twitter have been quick to deride the negative reaction as having been "from the cheap seats", which is kind of inconvenient for the narrative that Trump is the champion of Working Class Real Americans and the wealthy elite is against him.
In any event, the best they can claim is a profoundly mixed response from the UFC crowd, and that in and of itself is enough to put the nail in the coffin of Trump's dreams of being Mr. Manhattan.
At the same time, it's not like Florida is solid Trump country. The GOP frequently tries to portray it as their stronghold, but they do so because it's a highly contested battlefield. Normalizing the idea that it's "their state" makes it easier for them to get away with the shenanigans they need in order to swing it their way, and gives them a foundation for attacking the results when they fail.
And whereas Trump's Manhattan home was by the design in the thick of things, his places in Florida are more like strongholds: remote and well-protected. If he can't gain admittance to the clubhouse of the cool in New York City, he'll retreat to his actual clubhouses in Florida, where he can be surrounded by people who work for him or paid good money to be close to him... much like his fellow VIPs in Madison Square Garden.
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