How can we ever repay Donald Trump?
The sad truth is we probably cannot. And yet, conscience dictates that we try.
This is why we should welcome Jerry Falwell Jr.’s proposal: America owes President Trump reparations.
The president of Liberty University floated this fine idea over the weekend, and Trump himself quickly embraced the proposal with a retweet, adding a rationale: “Despite the tremendous success that I have had as president, including perhaps the greatest ECONOMY and most successful first two years of any president in history, they have stolen two years of my (our) Presidency (Collusion Delusion) that we will never be able to get back.”
Theft! A tangible wrong. And yet — incredibly — when I search GoFundMe for “Trump Reparations,” I find nobody attempting to compensate Trump for his suffering.
Certainly, others have a more compelling historical claim on reparations. Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren floated reparations for Native Americans, who suffered genocide. Another Democratic candidate, Kamala Harris, has revived the idea of reparations for African Americans, for centuries of slavery.
But perhaps nobody, living or dead, has alleged more grievances than Trump. “No politician in history — and I say this with great surety — has been treated worse or more unfairly,” Trump has said, placing his suffering ahead of Benito Mussolini (executed corpse beaten and hung upside down) and Oliver Cromwell (body drawn and quartered, head hung on spike).
Consider the litany of wrongs done to him in the past few days alone, as chronicled in his Twitter output: He is being targeted “by the deep state” and he is suffering from congressional “bullying.” He is the victim of “a complete setup,” and he lamented with Vladimir Putin a “Russian hoax” perpetrated against them both.
In a video clip Trump shared, a Muslim cleric vows to “conquer America” and “this tyrant” — Trump presumably — then “kill them and take their women and smash their churches” if Americans don’t convert to Islam. Trump is further vexed by “drug cartels & violent criminals” at the border and stubborn Chinese trade negotiators (hence his threat to raise tariffs again). Even the officials at the Kentucky Derby let him down; by disqualifying the winner because of “political correctness.” And Hillary Clinton’s emails!
During this extraordinary recitation of wrongs inflicted on him, Trump retweeted a question posed on CNN: “Is Trump not getting enough credit for the economy?”
Of course he isn’t! And somebody must pay.
Falwell’s proposed remedy, that Trump have “2 yrs added to his 1st term as pay back for time stolen by this corrupt failed coup,” has a practical flaw: At the rate Trump’s would-be Democratic challengers are joining the field, there would be more than 250 of them on the debate stage in 2022. (Also, the idea is unconstitutional, though the Supreme Court has recently granted Trump considerable leeway with that document.)
A less messy solution: cash reparations; a victim’s fund for our beleaguered billionaire. This would be relatively simple to implement, because we already have considerable experience shifting funds into Trump’s pocket.
Ivanka Trump got trademarks from the Chinese government. Jared Kushner feted would-be lenders at the White House. The federal government disregarded the provision in the Trump International Hotel in Washington’s government lease, which says no “elected official … shall be admitted to any share or part of this Lease.” On Monday evening, Trump awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Tiger Woods, a sometimes Trump business associate. On top of this, political parties, campaigns, foreign governments, lobbyists and federal agencies have funneled tens of millions of dollars to Trump properties.
And yet, all these reparations payments have been insufficient; Trump still feels aggrieved and wronged. A bolder gesture is needed.
I propose, therefore, the mother of all emoluments: $10 billion. That’s the amount Trump has said he’s worth but is more than triple his estimated worth. Divided among all Hillary Clinton voters, it’s only about $150 per person; and that’s before George Soros’ subsidies. In further compensation, Trump would be awarded the title he has envied since it was given to China’s Xi Jinping: “president for life.”
In exchange, Trump would agree to stop being the actual president, to delete his Twitter account and to retire to Mar-a-Lago, which would be renamed — and I’m just picking a couple of names at random here —Elba or St. Helena.
Maybe then, once Trump feels he’s been made whole, the rest of us can finally heal.
Follow Dana Milbank on Twitter @Milbank.