The Grifter’s Club by Sarah Blaskey, Nicholas Nehamas, Caitlin Ostroff, Jay Weaver

Reviewed by Antonella Townsend

Cliché alert: Timing is everything! The Grifter’s Club would have been shocking and unsettling when it was first published in August 2020.  But time has moved on and with the advent of Biden’s reign in the White House, and Donald Trump Twitterless on the peripheries of politics, it reads like an unbelievable comedic farce.

The Grifter’s Club is intended to be an exposé on how President Trump maneuvered the presidency to fit his preferred lifestyle in Florida rather than Washington, residing in his club, Mar-a-Lago, rather than the White House, and the problems and expense this created for security – personal and national security.

 And I loved it!

The authors detail how Mar-a-Lago has always held an atmosphere of mystique in Palm Beach.  Originally conceived and built by Margie Post, its opulence echoed a cosmopolitan sophistication. Over the years, it changed hands, became dilapidated, and then purchased by Trump for a bargain price.  In order to afford its running costs, he turned it into an exclusive club, its long-time loyal members became a surrogate family for The Don (his title within the walls of Mar-a-Lago).  Time passed and The Don became President Trump.  Desperate to profit from President Trump’s reflected power, a weird collection of stooges came from every direction.  This had the effect of hugely increasing Mar-a-Lago’s bottom line.  From the now inflated membership dues, the increased revenue from charity and various other events, the cost to the country for keeping security forces housed when President Trump was in residence, and entertaining foreign heads of state, Mar-a-Lago was a money-making machine.  Not to mention the rising popularity of Trump’s golf course a few kilometers from Mar-a-Largo.  The authors refer to founding father Alexander Hamilton and the “Emoluments Clauses” to indicate how far Trump’s business interests, now synonymous with the presidential brand, have strayed from the intent of the US Constitution.

In the telling, the reader meets a collection of money-loving, celebrity hugging, people from around the globe, not least of which were mainland Chinese eager to boost their status at home via ‘selfies’ with the President.   None more bizarre than an event held for the benefit of ‘the Truth About Israel’. Chinese visitors, falsely sold tickets on the promise of a photo opportunity with President Trump, and clearly not interested in Israel’s truth, out numbered its bemused Jewish attendees.

The Grifter’s Club gives an insight to the psychology of The Don.  Other than getting his hands on as much money as possible, he wants to be loved; this desire attunes his radar into how to please the masses.  It seems policy is gathered from the opinions of those around him and how the public respond to his speeches.  A poignant human face, sadly not a presidential one!

The Grifter’s Club is an interesting read, through the cast of improbable characters and the inept management of Mar-a-Lago, a subtext filters through: ‘This Must Not Happen Again!’ I fear it might but for now let’s enjoy the moment.

Many thanks to its authors – Sarah Blaskey, a reporter for the Miami Herald, Caitlin Ostroff, a data reporter with the Wall Street Journal, Nicholas Nehamas, an investigative reporter for the Miami Herald, and Jay Weaver, covering government and politics for the Miami Herald.

The Grifter’s Club:  Trump, Mar-a-Lago and the Selling of the Presidency

By Sarah BlaskeyNicholas Nehamas, Caitlin OstroffJay Weaver

[2020]

Hachette Australia

Paperback – 9781529362732 – $32.99

Hardback – 9781529362695 – $49.99

Audiobook – 9781529362701 – $35.99

e-Book         – 9781529362718 – $15.99

Pp.240

 

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