Is Norma Desmond the model for Trump’s future?

I see Trump eventually becoming like the Norma Desmond character in Sunset Boulevard. She was a star of the silent film era who was sidelined by the arrival of the talkies. So she retreats to isolation in her mansion, endlessly watching her old films in private and reliving her glory days. I can see Trump doing that, living at Mar-a-Lago and watching recordings of his rallies and recalling memories of the adulation that he once received from his fans.

One sign of Trump’s decline is his plane. When he was campaigning in 2016, he flew around in his private Boeing 757 that had his name in big gold letters on it. It was his ultimate status symbol of being wealthy. He would use it for all manner of photo ops and would make a grand entrance by arriving in it to his various airport rallies.

So what happened to that plane? It now sits idle and rusting in a regional airport.

Trump’s personal Boeing 757 was always the crown jewel of his wealth — the ultimate sign that he had made it. He’s used it as a backdrop for sleek photo shoots, campaign rallies, VIP tours, for shots of him eating his Big Macs and KFC, plated, with a knife and fork. Trump loved to show it off — the customized cream-colored leather seats, gilded bathrooms, the seat buckles layered in 24-karat gold.

But today it sits idle on an airport ramp in Orange County, New York, about 60 miles north of Manhattan.

One engine is missing parts. The other is shrink-wrapped in plastic. The cost to fix and get it flyable could reach well into the high six-figures, a price-tag Trump doesn’t appear to be dealing with right now. Though the current state of his finances aren’t public, the Covid-19 pandemic has taken a toll on the hospitality industry home to so many of his businesses.

For some reason, Trump didn’t do what is normally done when big planes are idled and that is park it is an arid climate.

A CNN camera crew saw Trump’s plane parked on a fenced-off tarmac at the small upstate New York airport on Wednesday, about an hour and a half drive from Trump Tower. The choice to leave it outside at a northeastern airport, exposed to the elements, has baffled aviation experts who spoke with CNN. They note that it’s just a few hours’ flight to warmer, more arid climes. Snow, rain, and moisture can lead to metal corrosion of the airframe and the engines — hard to detect, and, in severe cases, catastrophic. Large airplanes are typically stored for long stretches of time in the desert southwest, where the dry climate makes corrosion nearly impossible.

So what does he travel in now since he will never risk traveling on a commercial flight. Apparently he now uses a much small 1997 Cessna.

It was this plane Trump flew on when he made his first post-presidency trip back to Manhattan earlier this month. “The small jet isn’t his favorite,” says a former White House official who frequently flew with Trump on both planes. With just eight seats, the Citation such as the one Trump is using, is a tighter squeeze and far less luxe than the 757.

Just eight people? That must sting. That is not enough to even take his family, since he and his children also have a security detail. In an unusual move just before he was kicked out of the White House, he even ordered that his four adult children and their two spouses have a security detail for six months after after his presidency ended.

Additionally, ABC News has learned that Trump’s former Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, former National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien, and former Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin are also receiving Secret Service protection beyond Trump’s term.

It’s not unusual for first children to receive an extension on their protection as a courtesy extended to the outgoing president and his family, but traditionally such protection has been limited to underage children and college students, as opposed to independent adults.

It’s also rare for former administration officials to receive protection beyond the president’s term in office.

By law, the former president and first lady receive lifetime protection, and youngest son Barron Trump will receive protection until he’s 16 years old. Former Vice President Mike Pence by law receives six months of protection after he leaves office.

I think the Cessna is about as downscale as Trump will allow himself to go. If even that becomes unaffordable with all his mounting legal and other expenses, he may forego all travel altogether.


  1. johnson catman says

    Perhaps he let the 757 rot because he was so sure that he would have continued use of AF1. His twisted brain may have even had a thought that he would be president for life, so the 757 would be totally unnecessary. And being the cheapskate that he is, the 757 would never need maintenance again.

    Apparently he now uses a much small 1997 Cessna.

    When I read that (before reading the quoted paragraph that followed), I pictured a single-engine prop plane and I was mightily amused. Also, it seems that a “much small” plane would not be able to get off the ground with his fat ass on board.

  2. dean56 says

    The primary difference is that Norma Desmond was once at the top of the game in her career, and was highly respected, and her decline only came after she was unable to adapt to changing circumstances. That, and age, contributed to her various declines (mental, social, etc.). She is truly a sad character. (Shot in fantastic b/w for the movie.)

    Trump was never at the top of anything, was never widely respected, and has always had (or seemed to have) immensely limited mental and social abilities. He didn’t descend from any heights: he simply continues to stumble through life as though he is the real-world version of a poorly written south park mentally challenged 3rd grader.

    (Sorry for the crappy attitude: I’m grading finals today, and in one class all five football players got the same 4 questions completely wrong, all of them analyzing data with the same incorrect procedure, making the same interpretation, spelling, and other errors in their common write-ups. Dealing with the pain-in-the-butt paper work in the last 2 days of the semester is not something I wanted to do. [Not that I ever want to deal with it.])

  3. brucegee1962 says

    I hear you about the football players. In one introductory college class I’m teaching, all the students have to go through a set of online modules, then take a quiz afterwards. We really want to expose them to the material and do well, so they can take the quiz as many times as they want. So if you feel like it you can literally skip the reading, answer the quiz randomly, snap a screenshot of the correct answers, then go back and retake the quiz and fill it in correctly.

    Nevertheless, about a third of the class doesn’t bother to take it. So we are literally looking at a generation that is too lazy and/or ignorant to even cheat effectively. It does not inspire one with much confidence for the future of this country.

  4. ardipithecus says

    Is it a coincidence that that is similar to the number of Hard Core conservatives?

  5. Owlmirror says


    Trump was never at the top of anything, was never widely respected, and has always had (or seemed to have) immensely limited mental and social abilities.

    I think he was good enough at demagoguery, pandering to various bigotries, playing to crowds, cheap bullying, and appearing tough to win over the large minority of voters that liked that sort of thing.

    @Marcus Ranum:

    stabbed in mid-tweet

    Dude. Lifetime ban.

    Incidentally, I recently found out that there are Trump tweet archives for those who are interested in researching his shit.

    These are CSV and JSON twitter dumps. Not that large, considering; about 11M and 17M respectively

  6. publicola says

    @brucegee1962: that one third will probably be the Republican members of Congress ten-fifteen years from now.

  7. lorn says

    Why was it left there, in that condition?

    Simple. Trump has never been a details person, or a planner. He simply doesn’t value anything, other than himself, if it is not of immediate help to his image or immediate goals. The plane was simply a toy he lost interest in and left abandoned on the lawn.

    He could have rented an aircraft hangar, and deducted the rent as a business expense, if he cared. As I understand it hangars, many are ex-military, are pretty cheap once you get away from the main routes. Hell, had he bothered he could buy the hanger and used the tax code and depreciation to cover most of the costs. All cheaper than rehabilitating a large aircraft left out in the rain for years.

    All good options but they would have required Trump to care. At least care enough to farm the caring out.

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