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Dan Collins

Dan Collins

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Donald Trump's Legacy: Would You Buy a Used Apartment From This Man?

Posted: 05/16/11 02:38 PM ET

Donald Trump is out, but the memory of the Trump-for-President era will, I hope, live on.

We've learned a lot. The public, for instance, has been educated to understand that you can't trust a thing the guy says.

"I maintain the strong conviction that if I were to run, I would be able to win the primary and ultimately, the general election," Trump said in a statement.

Is it possible he really believes that? If so, would you buy a used apartment building from this man?

The Trump presidential campaign should go down in history as a huge warning sign for other rich, high-profile jerks who think they can notch their name recognition up to even more astronomic levels by pretending to be presidential timber and making outrageous, headline-grabbing allegations about whoever's running the country.

Doesn't work. Much more important to the egomaniacs who might be tempted to consider this kind of activity, It's Bad For The Brand.

A guy like Trump, who's basically a reality show celebrity, can skate below the surface of real press scrutiny for a long time.

For instance, he continually bragged about his academic background. "I'm a really smart guy. I was a really good student at the best school in the country," he said on The View. Who ever bothered to check the facts - until Trump the alleged candidate started trashing Obama's education, claiming he had "heard" that the president got terrible grades and demanding to know how he made it into Columbia and Harvard.

Now - since he brought it up - we've learned that Trump spent two unremarkable years at Fordham (where he was on the squash team), after which he made a sudden leap to the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School. (The undergraduate version, not the one that gives you an MBA.)

We also know that his path to that amazing leap in academic status began with an interview with an admissions officer at the University of Pennsylvania who was a high school classmate of Trump's older brother.

Also that after he got to Penn, Trump continued his pattern of never distinguishing himself academically in any way.

But the real heart of the Trump Brand is his reputation as a great business guy and real estate developer.

Now, thanks to a recent front-page story in the New York Times, we know that a lot of the glitzy Donald Trump housing developments are actually somebody else's projects, which leased the Trump name and sometimes purchased an appearance by The Man himself at a meet-and-greet for prospective buyers.

When the projects go bankrupt, do not expect the fact that Trump put his name on the building meant he put any money on the line.

Ditto for the now apparently defunct Trump University, which, as HuffPost's Marcus Baram reported, got a D minus from the Better Business Bureau.

If we wanted to keep at it, we could go on to Trump's military record. He recently told Fox's Channel 5 news in New York about the "amazing" experience of being in college and watching the draft lottery during the Vietnam War and discovering that he had a "very, very high" number.

The problem here is that warrior Trump got out of the Vietnam War by receiving a medical deferment. He was classified 1-Y by the Selective Service in 1968, according to Wayne Barrett's biography of Trump. [Disclosure: Barrett and I are old friends and we have co-authored a book on Rudy Giuliani.]

And the first draft lottery wasn't held until more than a year after Trump left Penn.

So again, the moral. Here was a long-running celebrity who made an extremely good living by marketing himself to the world as a colorful but (supposedly) canny blowhard businessman.

Then he decides to pretend to run for president on a platform that revolved around whether the current occupant of the White House was there illegally.

Now, Barack Obama is doing fine but Donald Trump has been exposed as a guy who will, for a fee, put his name on anything from a troubled real estate development to a grade D for-profit school. Who brags about a high-achieving Ivy League academic career he doesn't really seem to have had, and who can't even get the story of how he stayed out of Vietnam straight.

He tried playing in the big leagues and came to disaster. Stick with what you do well, Donald. Go fire Gary Busey again.