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Leamer writes: "Beneath the veneer of civility, Palm Beach has always been a place of the most merciless gossip, no less ugly because it is whispered, not spoken."

Melania Trump attends charity dinner at Mar-a-Lago. (photo: unknown)
Melania Trump attends charity dinner at Mar-a-Lago. (photo: unknown)

"They All Kiss My Ass": As Trump Teeters on the Brink, Mar-a-Lago Fears the Worst

By Laurence Leamer, Vanity Fair

23 December 18

Trump perfected his political playbook by waging war against Palm Beach high society. But three decades later, according to the author of Mar-a-Lago: Inside the Gates of Power at Donald Trump’s Presidential Palace, the island community Trump conquered is having its doubts.

eneath the veneer of civility, Palm Beach has always been a place of the most merciless gossip, no less ugly because it is whispered, not spoken. And there is no more sordid gossip than the rumors flying around the island about Donald Trump, who is planning to return for a two-week vacation as soon as a government shutdown is averted. The epicenter of the action is Mar-a-Lago, the president’s private club, where members are full of incredible dish and speculation. Trump’s children, they whisper, are about to be indicted. Trump is negotiating leaving the White House in exchange for not being prosecuted for his myriad crimes. The Democrats and Republicans conspired to raise the interest rates to tank the stock market and drive Trump from office.

There’s not a shred of hard evidence for any of this, but the stories are passed on as the secret truths of the age. Mar-a-Lago, after all, understands the president on a primordial level, and Trump appreciates Mar-a-Lago in kind. For 33 years, Trump has showered golden gifts and constant attention on his Palm Beach estate, transforming the 17-acre property into his own personal Xanadu. The furnishings are, for the most part, as cereal heiress Marjorie Merriweather Post left them when Trump obtained the property in 1985. Yet some details, such as the elegant portrait of Post hanging in the former library, Trump couldn’t abide. In its place is a shamelessly flattering portrait of a preternaturally youthful Donald Trump, clad in white pants and a sweater, with the body of a Greek god and a face like Tab Hunter. Even the portrait’s plaque, which reads “The Visionary,” is wildly over the top. There it hangs in a library full of leather-bound books nobody ever reads, a shrine to the maestro of Mar-a-Lago, as he sees himself.

When Trump is in residence, the foreign press is there in enormous numbers, feeding glimpses of Trump’s personal life to a voracious global audience. For the most part, they stay in hotels in West Palm Beach and have little access, but they appear happy with whatever scraps of information they scrounge. Sometimes important American journalists are seen dining at Mar-a-Lago. The Washington Post’s David Fahrenthold won a Pulitzer Prize for his splendid series of articles about Trump’s misuse of his family foundation, including at Mar-a-Lago. Many American news outlets, however, have de-emphasized coverage of Mar-a-Lago. Perhaps editors are bored with the topic, or prefer to use the time to marshal resources towards other worthwhile investigations into Trump’s campaign and finances. But one cannot understand Trump fully without understanding his life in Palm Beach. It is here that Trump learned much that would be crucial to his successful run for the presidency.

I have wintered in Palm Beach since 1994, the year before Trump opened Mar-a-Lago as a club. During the past two years, as I researched my forthcoming book, Mar-a-Lago: Inside the Gates of Power at Donald Trump’s Presidential Palace, I learned a great deal about the way Trump took on the Palm Beach establishment and beat it down. When Trump purchased Mar-a-Lago, Palm Beach was by far the most socially intimidating place in America. When a newcomer drove over one of the three bridges into this ghetto of privilege, the town seemed to give off vibes saying “you aren’t wanted.” There was rarely anybody on the streets. Everything and everyone was behind high hedges, including the aged Rose Kennedy and businesswoman Estée Lauder. On Worth Avenue, the few female shoppers wore heels and stockings and looked with undisguised dismay at anyone so déclassé as to be attired in a T-shirt or slacks. Those who purchased homes on the island generally dressed themselves in blandness so they wouldn’t be blackballed as they sought membership in the restricted Bath & Tennis and Everglades Clubs, the center of elite social life in the resort community. Many assumed that the elaborate vetting process was steeped in anti-Semitism.

But Trump didn’t give a damn about the Palm Beach gentry or their prejudices. Almost from the day he arrived, he made it clear he was not going to wear the washed-out colors of the Wasp elite, but would be the archetypal brash, in-your-face New Yorker whom the establishment abhorred. He purchased the incredible property for $5 million, plus $3 million for its furnishings and another $2 million for a strip of beachfront, closing one of the greatest residential real-estate deals in American history. (These days, the property is worth as much as $160 million, according to Forbes.)

Quickly, he set about disrupting the island’s prim social calendar. The Preservation Foundation, the most prestigious organization on the island, was used to having its annual gala at Mar-a-Lago. Trump said that could continue but it would have to hold the event in a tent, not in the mansion itself. Trump preferred a good enemy to a bad friend, and by that single act he created a slew of Palm Beachers who despised him.

Trump’s friends did not spend their days pondering what they could do to advance Donald, but his enemies woke up each morning thinking about what they could do to destroy him. When Trump got in serious financial troubles in the early 90s, he sought to build eight homes on his massive property, something another developer might have received approval for. But the Preservation Foundation led the fight to deny him that right.

Trump could have gone to the town council hat in hand, humbly asking for permission. That was the Palm Beach way, but Trump had never done such a thing in his life. He fought them straight on, blustering and boasting and threatening, calling for lawsuits and a plague on those who opposed him. He was undoubtedly the most unpopular person on the island, and the town council turned him down. But after that, Trump fought it as a political battle. He was a natural politician, able to ingratiate himself with many of those he sought to please. In the end, the town council voted three to two to let Trump have his club rather than the eight mansions.

The Mar-a-Lago Club opened in 1995 as a spirited mixture of Jews and Christians, and for that alone it was a historic first for the island. Trump had presumably done this to make a buck, not for any broad social purpose, but he had done it nonetheless. He had black members in a town where at one time African Americans could not move freely on the island, and was thought to be the first club owner to admit an openly gay couple. Thanks to Trump’s casinos in Atlantic City, he was able to bring in some of the greatest singers and groups in the country to perform. James Brown, Donna Summer, K.C. and the Sunshine Band, the Beach Boys, and Huey Lewis and the News all got up on stage at Mar-a-Lago.

At the time, probably no one else would have had the guts to start such a club. Mar-a-Lago was the center of the New Money, a whole new breed of Palm Beacher that cared little for the old rites. They flashed their money and boasted of their success and brought both new energy and new vulgarity to Palm Beach. Trump ruled over them all. “I’m the king of Palm Beach,” he once boasted to Trump biographer Tim O’Brien. “They all come over, they all eat, they all love me, they all kiss my ass. And then they all leave and say: ‘Isn’t he horrible.’ But I’m the king.”


Trump had taken on what he considered a corrupt, entrenched establishment, and not only won but won completely, pushing the blue bloods back into their private clubs, their nights of gin & tonics and endless laments. When he announced his candidacy for the presidency, it was Palm Beach writ large, a great battle against what he deemed another corrupt elite. And he used many of the same techniques that he first employed in Palm Beach. He attacked his opponents with mocking jeers as the lap dogs of the establishment. He gave them no quarter and never retreated from anything he said or did. To help him on his seemingly quixotic quest, he enlisted all kinds of marginal characters, from Roger Stone to Paul Manafort, giving them status they wouldn’t have gotten anywhere else.

That got him to the White House, but it could not help him govern. He’s been more a king than a president, ruling with little regard for the other branches of government. His heady blend of ignorance, certitude, and arrogance fooled many of the people most of the time, but as Trump prepares to vacation at his beloved estate, the question is, will it work any longer?

Mar-a-Lago is no longer the enclave of peace and security it once was for Trump. Some members are fed up with the endless hoopla surrounding the club’s proprietor, the onerous security and air-traffic bans and Secret Service agents with their ubiquitous weapons. Some have told me that they will not enter Mar-a-Lago this holiday season.

And yet, with all the existential crises hanging over his presidency—the Mueller report, the specter of an unbuilt border wall, and a sinking stock market—Trump can take some measure of peace in touching his roots. In Palm Beach, the familiar scandals are smaller, more parochial, and the true believers still keep the faith. Mar-a-Lago remembers the real Trump, the one who arrived on the island like a bull in a china shop, overturning the old social order and remaking high society in his image. Many still hope that he might do the same with the presidency.

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+7 # Farafalla 2018-12-23 19:20
Muera Donaltrón.
+19 # elizabethblock 2018-12-23 22:01
"That got him to the White House, but it could not help him govern. He’s been more a king than a president."

Nailed it. With the clarification that he's a king from the days before constitutional monarchy, like Kaiser Wilhelm rather than Queen Elizabeth II.
+42 # DongiC 2018-12-24 02:06
Trump is a fighter, give him that. And he has certitude that he is right, that he is the greatest and that he will win. But, at what cost to the society he leads and what price will we as a nation pay for the problems that he leaves unattended? Like environmental deterioration. Like a disintegrating infrastructure. Like a growing concentration of wealth and power in the hands of a declining number of people; a true oligarchy.

How will our mass production society work with this uneven distribution of the nation's wealth and riches? It is like 1929 all over again. Too many goods, too few consumers, too little purchasing power for the masses. Too much income for the privileged few. Leaders like Trump with no idea of what is happening on the macro level of economics.

So the Great Depression came and suffering engulfed the land. If we are stupid, if we forget our history, if we continue to elect Republicans,
then we shall suffer once again. Only this time, the entire planet is threatened. Things accelerate changing rapidly. The final times are upon us. Get ready for battle, fellow Progressives. We are not done yet.
+26 # V Lee 2018-12-24 11:13
Page 3 of the January 16, 2018, President’s Periodic Physical Exam, indicates the man takes 1 mg of finasteride (Propecia) daily. Finasteride is prescribed for androgenetic alopecia (male pattern hair loss).

An 11/15/2015 article in Andrology identified the long-term adverse effects after use of finasteride against androgenetic alopecia. In addition to multiple adverse sexual effects, mental disorders include anhedonia, lack of mental concentration, involuntary muscle spasms and anxiety. The Aging Male Symptom Scale identified psychological symptoms: irritability (increased), nervousness (more), anxious (more), depressive mood and burned out.

A July 2017 article in the Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology “explored the psychiatric and andrological features of patients affected by post-finasterid e syndrome,” finding that “eight out of sixteen PFS male patients considered suffered from a major depressive disorder.”

It's easy to connect the dots to see that the man in the White House is disabled by finasteride and therefore patently unable to function as chief executive.
+1 # Tarry Faster 2018-12-25 16:05
Also ...
+17 # dascher 2018-12-25 09:43
The "man in the White House" was a sick puppy long before he started losing his hair. He was the obnoxious rich kid who bought friends but couldn't keep them. He never understood how to be anything but "The Boss". He was always the kid who pushed everybody else out of the way and grabbed the first position in line ... because he had to be the "first" which he confused with the "best". Once at the front of the line, he had no idea what he was supposed to do there - just as he has no idea what he is supposed to do (or can do) in the White House.

Medication induced disorders are just layered on the personality disorders he has had since he dropped out of fourth grade... to go on to great success at a "military school" where he thinks he learned all about soldier stuff but was just being kept out of trouble - or at least out of worse trouble than he would have gotten himself into if he was still in a public school.

A very sad case.

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