You Want to Know What Trump Really Thinks About The Middle East?
Watch The Golf....
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As he was leaving court in Manhattan Wednesday, Donald Trump was asked if he’d be returning this week.
Probably not, he said.
Never one to miss a marketing opportunity he turned back for the microphones and cameras:
We’re hosting a very big professional golf tournament at Doral - so probably not.”
What he didn’t say - and sometimes I think people lose sight of the fact that amid all Trump’s bluster - and careless, sanctionable talk - he is a master of ommission - was that the “very big professional tournament” was in fact part of the LIV golf annual program. LIV golf, you’ll recall, is mostly funded by Saudi Arabia’s Private Investment Fund (PIF) - in other words it’s the money of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman.
It’s not the greatest moment politically for candidate Trump to yuck it up with the Saudis. Events of last two weeks have altered the dynamic between the US and the Kingdom.
Until Hamas attacked Israel on October 7th, relations between Saudi Arabia and the United States were warming. The Saudis were headed towards a trilateral defense treaty with Israel and the US, colloquially known as the Abraham Accords 2.0.
Warmer still was the lucrative relationship between Trump and the Saudi Crown Prince. (At this point Trump’s golf courses have hosted five LIV tournaments). And warmest of all is the relationship between MBS and Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, whose private equity firm received a $2 billion investment from the PIF (now the subject of an investigation into a quid pro quo by Congress, given pro Saudi foreign policy conducted by Kushner who has denied wrong-doing).
But since the attack on Israel, Saudi Arabia and the United States seem on opposite sides over what is going on in the Middle East. The Saudis have refused to condemn the terrorist attack.
As for Trump? Well he appears to be on whatever side is politically expedient. At first, following Joe Biden’s staunch support of Israel, Trump praised Hezbollah as “very smart.”
Then he flip-flopped and dug deep, saying he’d expand the Muslim Ban travel ban and that Israel must be protected and, of course, none of this would have happened if he’d been in charge.
But it seems no one asked him about how hosting LIV golf this weekend squared with any of this.
As we can see, given the seamless flow of golf in Miami, as usual, with Trump, money talks.
Strikingly, the tournament itself has been atypically sotto voce about its association with Trump. We haven’t yet seen any of the usual shots of Trump out on the course. And Trump hasn’t yet given a live from Liv press conference fuming about lawyers-turned-flippers, which is what you’d expect in the wake of the plea deals struck by Sydney Powell and Kenneth Chesebro with prosecutors in Fulton County, Georgia.
Compared to the marketing of yore - you’ll remember at Bedminster, Trump plastered the Presidential seal on towels, golf carts and such-like, which raised serious ethical questions - it seems to me that, at least on the Liv golf app on my phone, the print talking about the Trump International Golf Club is very, very small.
In a new book LIV & Let Die, author Alan Shipnuck explains that, in the wake of LIV’s bid to merge with the PGA, it has made a conscious effort to downplay the Trump alliance because, he says, it’s off-putting in the corporate world which would prefer neutral sponsors. Next year not a single LIV tournament is scheduled to be played at a Trump golf club.
Which may, of course, play straight into the hands of marketer Trump. Whenever he’s pitching his golf clubs at every camera-friendly opportunity, he won’t have to think so hard about what to leave out.