One of the features of American political life is that after leaving high office, politicians cash in by publishing books. Another lucrative activity is giving highly paid speeches to big corporations, Wall Street firms, and other wealthy organizations, with the Clintons and the Obamas being notable examples of how to become spectacularly rich doing so. These speech gigs are really a form of legalized bribery, for the sponsors of these events to gain access and curry favor wit, people who can do favors for them through their contacts in government or when they cycle back into government after the next election. Other people who served in administrations, such as current treasury secretary Janet Yellen and secretary of state Anthony Blinken, went the same route during the Trump era and can make even more money when their current time in office ends.
But we have not as yet seen Trump give any paid speeches, though I do not know if the CPAC paid him for his one outing so far. Given how he and his family are notorious for their money-grubbing even while he was in office and used their positions to advance their personal fortunes, I am surprised that he and his brood have not hit the book and lecture circuit already. It is true that he was only kicked out of the White House five weeks ago but normally by now one would have heard rumors of bidding wars for the memoirs of an ex-president and that he had signed up with one of the agencies that arrange these speeches. I am little puzzled by the lack of any news about Trump’s efforts on those fronts.
Are major book publishers leery of being associated with him, that doing so would taint their brand? I doubt it. There are enough MAGAheads out there who would buy a Trump ghost-written book that they could anticipate selling enough to bury any scruples.
Are the big money sources nervous about having him give speeches since there is no telling what he will say? The Clintons and the Obamas know how to play the game: make a short speech giving some bland policy prescriptions mixed in with some soaring rhetoric and praise for the funders of the event. Nobody really cares what they say, they just want access to them by schmoozing before and after the event. But Trump is unpredictable. He may treat the occasion like one of his campaign rallies and go on an extended rant about whatever got his goat that morning and throw in the gratuitous racist, sexist, and homophobic comments that gain him such applause at his rallies.
While some big corporations that are in the retail business may fear a backlash for booking Trump, many large ones such as those in the defense and aerospace sector do not deal directly with the public and can afford to curry favor with Trump just in case he does return to power, as can wealthy Republican organizations.
So what gives? Why isn’t Trump on the money trail?