[Editor’s note: Steve Burgess is an accredited spin doctor with a PhD in Centrifugal Rhetoric from the University of SASE, situated on the lovely campus of PO Box 7650, Cayman Islands. In this space he dispenses PR advice to politicians, the rich and famous, the troubled and well-heeled, the wealthy and gullible. ]
Dear Dr. Steve,
Last week Donald Trump played host to a Saudi-backed golf tournament at his Bedminster golf course in New Jersey. He also had his first wife Ivana buried on the property following her July 14 death. There has been speculation that Trump arranged for her burial in order to earn tax breaks available to cemeteries.
Do you think that's true?
Trump! He's bigger. He's better. Your golf course has 18 holes? Trump's has 19. He made a hole in one and put his ex-wife in it. Photos of Ivana Trump's burial site show an unadorned plot with what appears to be a budget headstone. You might think the mother of three Trump children deserved better, but then you probably think Joe Biden won the election too.
It is not entirely clear whether Trump actually arranged this burial in order to get a tax break. But is there anyone who thinks he wouldn't? To put it another way, if taxidermy offered major tax breaks is there any doubt that Ivana Trump would currently be decorating the clubhouse wall? Or that if burial in the pet cemetery was cheaper Trump would have put “Fluffy” on the death certificate?
To paraphrase Shakespeare, the evil men do lives after them; the good is buried somewhere behind the first tee.
Of course, Bedminster being a Trump property there have also been many recent opportunities to shame the living as well. Unlike poor blameless Ivana, the pro golfers who participated in the LIV event at Bedminster volunteered for their own besmirching. Backed by the Saudi government, the LIV pro golf tour offers massive cheques, and not just to winners. Show up with a golf bag full of Jack Daniel's, push the ball around the course with a pool cue, and you will be still guaranteed at least $120,000 plus whatever appearance bonus you negotiated.
(According to tour CEO Greg Norman, Tiger Woods turned down an appearance fee of around $800 million). None of this makes any financial successs unless your goal is to wash away a slick of blood with a firehose of Benjamins. Even if they avoided stepping on Ivana's plot, the Bedminster golfers were figuratively walking on the grave of Jamal Khashoggi, the journalist murdered by Saudi government agents in 2018. It's a bit like the Sochi Olympics, if Putin had invaded Ukraine first.
Survivors of 9/11 showed up at Bedminster to protest the event, based on ongoing claims that Saudi government officials were involved in, or at least had advance knowledge of, the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. Trump's breezy response: “Nobody's gotten to the bottom of 9/11.”
Presumably Trump is also still hunting for the real killers in the OJ Simpson case. This, even though Trump has actually blamed 9/11 on the Saudis a number of times in the past. But that was different. Now he's making a buck off them. Donald Trump would burn America to the ground if he thought he could get 20 bucks out of it.
All of which makes it at least plausible that Trump buried his ex on his golf course purely for crass financial reasons. According to a document published by ProPublica, Trump has reportedly been trying for years to create a cemetery in New Jersey.
A Trump-brand graveyard could serve several purposes. His old kitchen and bathroom decor could easily be refashioned into some classy mausoleums. And in 2021 he probably had a spot all picked out for Mike Pence.
Republican strategist Rick Wilson famously said, “Everything Trump touches dies.” Now with the unfortunate grave site of Ivana Trump, we see Wilson was being optimistic. The curse reaches even beyond the grave. They say you can't take it with you — when it comes to the stain of Donald Trump, you can't get rid of it.
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