A Letter from P.T. Barnum to Donald Trump

Lafe Tolliver

By Lafe Tolliver, Esq
Guest Column

If the legendary carnival barker and impresario P.T. Barnum were alive today and were witnessing the knee slapping antics of political showman Donald Trump, he would be green with envy.

You know, it was erroneously attributed to P.T. Barnum, the now famous phrase, “A sucker is born every minute!”

P.T. Barnum was the proverbial seller of snake oil. He could sell ice to the Eskimos and sand to the Arabs. Nothing was out of reach for his skills in reading human nature and fashioning a pitch for the average John Doe to give up a few dollars on a pitch that amounted to smoke and mirrors.

Why, P.T. Barnum could travel with a circus, and he would be in the side show lane whooping it up about the two-headed boy or the half-man and half-woman person and with the bearded woman with legs so hairy, small birds would nest in them.

P.T. Barnum loved a show and he loved showing off. Razzle-dazzle was his trademark along with a silver tongue that could charm a snake out of its skin or sell hard liquor to a Pentecostal fire breathing Baptist preacher.

P.T. Barnum had the art of the deal down to a science long before Donald Trump ever came up that title for one of his best-selling books.

P.T. Barnum would arrive with a circus in small town America and

he would set up his show with a lot of hoopla and hype. He was the master of promotion and would have the assembled crowd believe that what he had to show them could be seen nowhere else and you were about to see a wonder of the world!

He would rant and rave about how depraved or wild or fearful or shocking each item was behind the closed tent door, and he would dare the crowd to pay him just a modest sum to go in and see, “A wonder of the world!”

Of course, P.T. Barnum made sure that you paid before you went in and after you went in, you went out a back door that led to an exit so that you could not tell the still awaiting crowd what you saw…much less try to get your money back for believing in such overextended hype!

Now, fast forward that carnival approach to today’s politics and the merging of the celebrity and the political and you get America’s newest P.T. Barnum a.k.a…Donald Trump!

So, here is an imaginary letter from P.T. to Donald:

Dear Donald:

     I have been watching and hearing about your campaign run for the presidency even after you have been impeached twice; and I must admit that you almost got me believing in you!

     When I see what you do and how you do it, I look into the mirror and  laugh and say, “That’s me!”

     Oh, what a time we would have had together if we were living at the same time. We could be multi-millionaires (I hear you already are one!) and be on the top of our game.

     Your line of, “Trust me, I alone can get it done!” is pure gold. It reminds me of the times I took the rubes for their money when they came to my side shows and wanted to peek inside my tent to see what was so spectacular.

     Of course, I, like you, gave them little details since I wanted them to commit to paying me first before they go inside. And inside did they go! By the hundreds. Each time I set up the side shows, the crowds were there. Oh, sure, I changed my pitch to suit the crowd, just as you do when you travel either to the South or to the Northeast.

    That we have in common. We both know human nature and when people get tired of their day-to-day existence, I am there to tell them that I have got some excitement for them, but it will cost them something.

    You do the same. You tell them what they want to hear, be it building a wall along the Mexican border and having the Mexican government pay for it or you promising to smash ISIS or your current grift of making America great again.

    No clear details. Great plan! Do not give them too much because then they start thinking about it and before you know it, your crowd drifts away and there goes your admission fees.

     Keep attacking the other politicians because Americans love political combat and a little mudslinging. I did it now and then and it works…big time!

     If you ever get caught in a jam, simply tell them that you will get back to them and they will forget about it before long and move on to something else. Better yet, blame everything on the Deep State or it is a witch hunt against you.

    But, whatever you do, never let on that you are hyping them. Always act sincere and contrite if you are caught because Americans love to forgive someone just like them. It makes them feel good about themselves.

  I really envy you. That TRUMP plane is a winner! Use it all the time. Americans love to be overwhelmed with grandiosity and pomp. It is what a lot of these rubes lack and they desire it, even if it is showered on someone else. At least they can dream and you are talking up those dreams!

    So, in closing, keep ‘em coming back for more and never let them see you sweat and remember, you control the tent and no one gets a free peek!

   Your adoring friend, P.T. Barnum.


Contact Lafe Tolliver at Tolliver@Juno.com