With his trading card scam, Trump goes from national threat to national joke

St. Louis Post-Dispatch editorial board (TNS)

After all that Donald Trump has put America through, he owed the country a good laugh. Last week, he delivered spectacularly, if unintentionally. Trump teased a “major announcement” that turned out to be a return to his grifter roots. This time he was hawking not worthless college degrees or failing casinos but digital images of himself in various heroic poses (cowboy, astronaut, superhero).

The sound of dropping jaws was palpable throughout MAGA world. If Trump’s earlier suggestion of suspending the Constitution to return him to the presidency didn’t convince his remaining supporters that this man belongs nowhere near power, there are promising indications that perhaps this latest evidence of untethered clownishness finally will.

The twice-impeached former president is running for that office again, though evidence of an actual campaign remains elusive. So speculation was rampant when Trump posted on his Truth Social site Wednesday: “AMERICA NEEDS A SUPERHERO! I will be making a MAJOR ANNOUNCEMENT tomorrow.”

Former U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during an event at his Mar-a-Lago home on Nov. 15, 2022, in Palm Beach, Florida. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images/TNS)

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“Will he announce a third party run? House Speaker bid? His running mate?” tweeted one breathless conservative. Others speculated he would announce he is accepting fellow billionaire narcissist Elon Musk’s invitation to return to Twitter.

What no one predicted was that Trump meant the “superhero” reference literally. What he unveiled Thursday — in a bizarre video announcement in which he declared himself a better president than Lincoln or Washington — was a line of digital “trading cards” depicting Trump in various heroic, muscular settings. Including one with lasers coming out of his eyes.

“Collect all of your favorite Trump Digital Trading Cards, very much like a baseball card, but hopefully much more exciting,” Trump wrote in an accompanying post. “Only $99 each! Would make a great Christmas gift. Don’t Wait. They will be gone, I believe, very quickly!”

In yet another confirmation of the old adage that there’s a sucker born every minute, the 45,000 nonfungible tokens (NFTs) of the images were in fact gone by Friday morning, according to an independent NFT market monitor.

Maybe those buyers thought they were helping Trump’s supposed presidential campaign? If so, sorry, chumps. Trump is just pocketing the money.

Mockery of his cheap stunt spread like wildfire across the internet, with even conservative voices getting in on the act. “Don’t give any money to con artist Trump,” blared an editorial headline in the formerly Trumpy New York Post. “Thank God, the digital trading cards are here. It was indeed a MAJOR ANNOUNCEMENT,” snarked conservative commentator Ben Shapiro.

Even die-hard Trump ally Steve Bannon declared glumly, “I can’t do this anymore.”

Trump has repeatedly shown himself to be an existential threat to democracy. But this episode conclusively, finally, reduces him to a national joke. Anyone who ever supported him should be embarrassed. Anyone who still supports him should see a shrink. And America should move on from this idiotic shyster.

— From the St. Louis Post-Dispatch editorial board (TNS).