POLITICS

Campaign Reeling, Donald Trump Pivots To, Uhh...Scotland? Okay, Man.

Yeah, he's definitely a serious candidate who's really trying to win this thing.
Donald Trump stands next to a bagpiper during a media event on the sand dunes of the Menie estate, the site for Trump's propo
Donald Trump stands next to a bagpiper during a media event on the sand dunes of the Menie estate, the site for Trump's proposed golf resort, near Aberdeen, north east Scotland, May 27, 2010.

These recent news cycles, lo, they have not been kind to presumptive GOP nominee and cursed blood pudding Donald Trump. With national poll numbers cratering, money in unprecedentedly short supply, and a staff in chaos, anxious Republican elites who have bought in to his candidacy are looking for Trump to demonstrate that he's going to start taking his presidential bid seriously and right his suddenly foundering campaign.

Good news, then! Trump will respond to the jangled nerves of his worried supporters by ... pissing off to Scotland on Thursday. Cool, cool. That should do the trick.

See, while Beltway Republicans are waiting, and hoping, for Trump to finally make his vaunted general election pivot, the candidate himself is more concerned with divots. He's making this trip to bonnie Scotland to celebrate the grand reopening of his golf course, Trump Turnberry. It's almost as if he is more serious about tending to his portfolio of business interests, and perhaps launching new ones, than he is about actually starting his general election campaign.

Trump -- whose mother hailed from Tong, a wee village in the Outer Hebrides -- has long claimed to feel a native affinity for Scotland, and he has expressed that affection by stamping a pair of golf courses on the nation: Trump International Golf Links in Aberdeenshire, and Turnberry, in South Ayrshire. As with all things Trump, the mogul's sporting interests were pursued with his trademarked brand of care and diplomacy. As The Atlantic's David Graham related:

Trump had bought a portion of the Menie Estate in Aberdeenshire two years earlier with the intention of building a golf course and resort there. But the area included sand dunes that were a protected site. He was eventually able to win approval—over the reservations of local residents and government -- and construct the course. Ultimately, Scottish officials decided the economic benefit outweighed the environmental degradation. That didn’t stop Trump from whining throughout the process that the government was going hard on him despite his plans to invest vast amounts of money in the country. “If somebody else had applied, they would have gotten it a lot easier than me,” he said. “The celebrity and all of this media and craziness is probably a liability for me. But it’s an asset for the area and for Scotland. Everybody is talking about this course all over the world.”

More recently, Trump has made himself famous in Scotland for his epic row with former Scottish First Minister and current member of Parliament Alex Salmond over the wind farms the Scottish government approved off Scotland's northeast coast, which Trump considered to be a terrible eyesore for the swells he'd hope to attract to Trump International. Trump's war on wind, fought mainly on Twitter, wended all the way to Scotland's highest court before Trump lost. 

Of course, despite being the world's foremost opponent of wind farming -- he famously referred to it as "obsolete wind technology [that] will destroy the magnificence and beauty of Scotland" -- Trump didn't miss a beat when circumstances forced him to pander to Iowa voters earlier this year. As The Washington Post's Philip Bump reported, Trump came face to face with a wind supporter at a televised town hall in Newton, Iowa, who asked if Trump supported the wind-farm subsidies that kept her husband employed. Per Bump:

Trump began by saying, "Well, I'm okay with it." (He then said that he "know[s] a lot about wind," prompting some tittering in the audience.) He noted that it can be hard for wind to be competitive in energy production particularly when prices for fossil fuels are so low, so "you need subsidies." (He paused to marvel: "It's an amazing thing when you think -- you know, where they can, out of nowhere, out of the wind, they make energy.")

Oooh, wind makes energy, fancy that. At any rate, Trump managed to maintain relatively cordial relations with Iowans. The same can not be said of the Scots. Journalist Lesley Riddoch, writing for The Scotsman in 2012, put it rather colorfully:

Donald Trump: an unsavoury blend of Midas and King Canute; an uncomfortable fusion of Simon Cowell and Andrew Neil. It’s hard to think of a less sympathetic character in the eyes of most Scots. Despite all his tartanry and trumpeting of heritage, The Donald is almost the anti-Scot personified.

Left and right, unionist and nationalist, man and woman, young and old -- it takes quite a lot to unite the people of this notoriously fractious little country in a collective shudder. But Donald Trump effortlessly manages to strike the wrong note in just about everything he does.

So, it seems like we finally have a non-fallacious way to refer to someone as "No True Scotsman." 

Animosity for Trump in Scotland has hardly dimmed. As Fortune's Michael D'Antonio reports, "there is probably no country in the world where he is least welcomed." Among other things, the Scottish people retain the memory of Trump promising that his resorts would provide a vital economic boost and create some 6,000 permanent jobs. Trump fell about 5,850 jobs short of his projection. And along the way, Trump had numerous occasions to display his patented petulance -- especially as he attempted to snap up land for his golf courses. Per D'Antonio:

The political tide began to turn against Trump as Scots learned of how he was bullying the few landowners who refused to sell to him. When Susan Munro rejected his bid to buy her property, she said Trump’s workers built a ten-foot high berm of earth around it, blocking her view. Munro’s neighbor just to the north, David Milne, saw Trump’s men plant evergreens twenty feet from his windows when he refused to sell. To the south, farmer Michael Forbes was attacked – his family lived like “pigs,” said Trump — and the developer’s lawyer approached the local government about taking his land by eminent domain.

Opposition to Trump grew, with rallies and protests. An artist displayed caricatures of the man inside the barn on the Forbes property. Hundreds of people became co-owners of the Forbes land, buying tiny interests in the farm in order to make a transfer of the property extremely cumbersome and costly.

When Trump arrives in Scotland, he will be greeted by locals who've endeavored to raise Mexican flags within sight of his properties -- and who will have their animosity for Trump well primed by Vice President Joe Biden, who will be firing potshots from nearby Ireland.

The Scottish people have a saying: "Why don't you go take a running fuck at a rolling doughnut." Reached for comment, Republican strategist Liz Mair -- who, like Trump, is both American and Scottish (but unlike Trump has a more substantial affection for property rights) -- was slightly more measured in offering her perspective on Trump's decision to quit the campaign trail at this heady time.

"With this visit," said Mair, "Trump is temporarily relocating himself from one country of which he is a national, where his fellow citizens largely hate him, to another country that he appears to be a national of, where he is arguably even more hated. Good times."

Good times, indeed, unless you are one of the GOP officials hoping to shepherd Trump through a genial convention, onto a sensible general election footing. Instead of Trump addressing his myriad deficits while the attention being paid to them is boiling, he's going to run at full speed into a hostile territory where there are no electoral votes to be plucked, only more cycles of bad news. It really makes you wonder how Trump's adult children can be smart enough to rid Trump's campaign of Corey Lewandowski, and yet not possess the good sense to say, "Hey, I'll cut the ribbon at your stupid golf course, Dad."

But hey, the Trump campaign is fine! Everything is fine.

Editor's note: Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims -- 1.6 billion members of an entire religion -- from entering the U.S.

~~~~~

Jason Linkins edits “Eat The Press” for The Huffington Post and co-hosts the HuffPost Politics podcast “So, That Happened.” Subscribe here, and listen to the latest episode below.

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