The Only Argument For Trump Is Wrong: He's Not A Success, He Just Plays One On TV

10/30/2016 03:49 pm ET Updated Oct 31, 2016

It shouldn’t need saying, but not all of Donald Trump’s supporters are bigoted, misogynistic idiots.

Many support him despite his hateful, simplistic campaign and his glaring character flaws, for one reason that they think Trumps everything:

Washington is broken. Who better to fix it than a highly successful outsider?

You probably know people who think this. If so, please share this crucial information:

Donald Trump is not a success. He only plays one on TV.

Consider the facts, not the flash.

1. Trump was “a stock market disaster,” as CBS Marketwatch columnist Brett Arends has documented:

Brett Arends, CBS Marketwatch (data: Factset)

Somehow, Donald Trump managed to blow a lot of money running casinos. Arends notes:

Over the same period, investors in competitor Harrah’s Entertainment more than doubled their money. Investors in luxury hotel, casino and resort companies like Starwood and MGM earned returns of more than 400%. Even the plain old stock market index more than doubled.

2. In fact, as the National Journal’s S.V. Dáte showed last year, over his adult life Trump could have made about as much or more money – and caused less damage from bankruptcies and his habitual stiffing of creditors – if he’d put the money he inherited from his father into an index fund and left it alone. Dáte’s numbers are necessarily imprecise and the details can be argued, but the point stands: Trump’s performance as an entrepreneur, as opposed to a lucky rich kid, is unimpressive. Just ask a real success, Warren Buffett:

People who believed in [Trump], who listened to his siren song, came away losing well over 90 cents on the dollar. They got back less than a dime," Buffett said at a rally for Hillary Clinton Monday. "In 1995, when he offered this company, if a monkey had thrown a dart at the stock page, the monkey on average would have made 150%.

3. In 1995, as the New York Times first reported, Trump reported a loss of nearly a billion dollars – a billion dollars! – and apparently used it to avoid paying federal taxes for up to 18 years. “That makes me smart,” he brags, about a gigantic collapse that left his investors holding the bag.

4. A partial list of Trump’s failures includes the casinos, Trump Shuttle, Trump Vodka, Trump magazine, Trump World magazine, and Trump University – the last facing multiple investigations and lawsuits alleging it was “really a fraud from beginning to end,” in the words of New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.

5. As Ivanka Trump recounted in the 2003 documentary “Born Rich,” her father once told her he was billions in debt:

I remember once my father and I were walking down Fifth Avenue and there was a homeless person sitting right outside of Trump Tower… it was around the same time as the divorce. And I remember my father pointing to him and saying, You know that guy has 8 billion dollars more than me. Because he was in such extreme debt at that point.

Ivanka said she was proud of the way her father came back from that. But consider how he did it…

6. Since flopping as a developer and investor, Trump has dropped those pursuits, and switched to a new one: licensing his brand. In other words, he’s been selling the gilded image of himself as a success, long after the reality failed — and while his branded properties continue to fail.

This is the character he’s been playing since the 2004 debut of “The Apprentice.” Unfortunately, even some well-meaning people have been fooled into thinking that character is real.

Ironically, it’s through the pretend Trump that the actual Trump finally has succeeded — and on his own “merits,” too:

At long last, he really is making money -- out of being a phony.

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