Guess Who’s Back on the Line

Hard to avoid thinking about Donald Trump when he’s calling Vladimir Putin’s current behavior “genius.” Just when you’re geared up to block the guy out of your life for a while, he makes a scene.

Although to be honest, ignoring him is almost always pretty difficult. So far this month, I’ve received at least 230 emails from our former president, asking for money.

Oh, wait. Another just came in. “President Trump wants YOU to be our 1 Millionth Donor,” it announced.

If you’re tempted by the offer, you’re directed to a button that takes you to a second page, where you, the lucky donor, can fill out information about yourself and your credit card, right after an already-checked box that reads, “Make this a monthly recurring donation.”

This is an old, old Trumpian trick, but he apparently never gets tired of it.

“I know I don’t need to tell you that my father will go down in history as one of the greatest American presidents. EVER,” Don Jr. wrote in one of his many contributions to the endless barrage. In another email, Junior lurched into a classic Trump fund-raising promotion, in which anyone who gives $20 will get credit for donating $220. How? Well, beats me. The bigger figure doesn’t seem to mean anything at all. I guess the idea is to imagine that when the Trumps sit down at dinner to talk about how much their friends contributed over the weekend, they’ll think you chipped in some big bucks.

It’s been a tough time for Donald Trump. Lost the election. Big disaster on Jan. 6. Reports of ripped-up paper in the White House toilet. Even Mike Pence has ditched him.

But on one front, his political career is absolutely on track. Hard to believe he won’t go down in history as our era’s most creative email fund-raiser.

Really, the money comes pouring in. There’s more than $100 million sitting around, and apparently very little Trump can spend it on except political activities.

Whoops. Here comes another letter from Donald Jr.:

“Friend, on behalf of my father, I am officially inviting YOU to be his VIP dinner guest in NEW ORLEANS.

“You’re one of my father’s VERY BEST supporters, and he REALLY wants to meet you, Friend. All you have to do is enter.”

Well, all you have to do is enter, beat out all of Dad’s other very best supporters and …

The massive email operation is actually one of the very few pieces of the Trump empire that seem to be working well. Look down your nose at his real estate holdings; cluck sadly at his attempts to find a social network to love. Speculate about the investigations into his business associates, every single one of whom is probably named Friend.

Donald Trump has been trying to do a lot of things since he lost his re-election campaign, but the only one that’s appeared to be really, truly successful is emailing for cash.

People just seem to get into this stuff. Right after Junior’s letter about New Orleans came another:

Wait a minute! Is this the same plane ticket I have to enter a contest to win?

Yeah. But it’s nice sometimes to get an email that sounds super-optimistic, right? If we only focused on the things that weren’t made up, we’d never get another chance to talk about the Mexican wall. And even if you never get a trip to New Orleans, you can tell yourself that Donald did kind of invite you, sort of. Bet $10 and it’s a win-win.

By the way, we hear so much about the exciting prizes Trump’s email readers can aspire to, isn’t it sort of weird we don’t see more about actual winners? Pictures of every lucky donor whose $10 translated into a free flight to New Orleans and a chance to really hang out with the Donald? Maybe they’re shy.

Or maybe even the fans who play — and donate — understand that on some level that this is just a game.

“Friend,” says a Trump email from last weekend. “I’ve never done this before …

“I just got off the phone with my team and they told me that your name was MISSING from the FINAL list of supporters who contributed to win a trip to meet me in Florida.

“I really want to meet you, so I’ve decided to give you the chance to ENTER TWICE.”

OK, very silly game. But you can understand why some people might enjoy the ride. There are lots of candidates running in serious races right now, most of them trying desperately to raise money. Generally their strategy to get your help is convincing you the current situation is terrible. (“Horrible, terrible, very bad news.”)

Now that Trump’s very, very cheerful email fund-raising appears to be so wildly successful, other Republicans are muttering that they’re being crowded out of the action. Hard to imagine they can elbow in. You really would need a game show hosting background to make this thing work.

Wait — here comes another email.

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