09/29/2016 12:54 pm ET Updated Sep 30, 2017

A Tale of Two Donalds

Lucas Jackson / Reuters

Cross-posted with

Think of American politics today as a tale of two Donalds. First, there's Donald Trump, political provocateur, a man with his eye on the Oval Office who's ready to say just about anything to get into it. That includes insisting, in his "America First" campaign, that he -- and he alone -- will bring back millions of manufacturing jobs to this country (that are unlikely ever to return) and that he'll create boom times for both the coal and natural gas industries (though they are in direct competition with each other). And then, of course, there's the other Donald Trump, the one who will do anything for a buck (or a million bucks, for that matter), including offshoring jobs galore for his own product lines and hiring cheaper foreign labor for his hotels and resorts (or building projects).

You might think that, in the heat of this election campaign, he'd decide to take a modest hit by hiring American labor rather than foreign "guest workers," and by repatriating the making of those Trump shirts (Bangladesh), Trump ties (China and Mexico), and similar products; that, at the moment, he might put his money where his mouth is when it comes to "America First." As it happens, we have a curious snapshot of The Donald and outsourced products from the latest Trump International Hotel, the one he recently opened just down the street from the White House with full campaign trail publicity and at prices meant only for the super-rich.

The Washington Post's Dana Milbank spent a night there (on Jeff Bezos's tab) and in his room ($856 plus tax) he found one all-American product: a "small package of milk-chocolate Trump gold bullion ($25)." Here was his description of what the room otherwise contained: "a Trump logo bathmat and towels from India, bone china from Japan, Italian cutlery and tiles, two telephones from Malaysia, a Swiss refrigerator, German coffee cups, Trump soaps and lotions from Canada and, from China, all four lamps, the coffee machine, the bathroom scale, the valet stand, and the shower cap." Milbank adds, "The hotel's managing director is from France. Most hotel workers I met during my stay had Caribbean or African accents."

That hotel room fits a pattern, and don't think of it as a case of Trumpian hypocrisy either. That doesn't begin to catch the flavor of what's going on. No, when it comes to The Donald's businesses, political positions be damned. He's happy to rouse Rust Belt and other communities with talk about the nightmare of outsourced jobs for American workers and to slam companies like Ford and Nabisco for sending their factories abroad. There's one thing he's not prepared to do, however: give up what's best for Donald Trump. And if that's true now, imagine how essential it is to the man and how likely it is, as Nomi Prins, TomDispatch regular and author of All the President's Bankers, indicates today in "Madoff in the White House?," that it's one trait -- even obsession -- that would enter the Oval Office with him and change the nature of the American presidency big time.