At some point in the next couple of years, Southern States Donald Trump voters will look out of their windows and realise that the border doesn’t look any different to what it did before they elected him President, and that will shock them more than it should. When he campaigned, in part, on building a wall to keep Mexican immigrants out of the country that was music to the ears of so many people in the lower United States.
It was also nonsense. Unrealisable, arrogant, morally bankrupt nonsense.
There were so many things wrong with the proposal, as he described it, that I could write an entire article on them.
But some are so obvious even the thickest voter should have been able to see how idiotic the idea was.
The cost for one. The construction of a wall running the length of the border has been estimated (in an MIT study) at between $27 billion and $40 billion. It would traverse mountains, swamps, it would encroach on private land which would have to be bought up first.
It would require 12.7 million cubic yards of concrete (at a cost of $9 billion), 2.3 billion kilos of steel (at a cost of $4.6 billion) and with labour costs escalating the project’s total into the stratosphere.
On top of that, Trump expected Mexico and its taxpayers to foot the bill, for what would be an American project and a President’s flight of fancy.
For these reasons alone, and a raft of others, this might well have been the stupidest campaign promise that ever been made in electoral history. The problem is that Trump won and now has to make good on some version of this. And that’s where the backsliding has started. Even if he’s able to achieve some workaround, it will be miles off the concept he spent an entire election cycle talking about. It will look, in fact, little different to what the border is like now.
That outcome was all-too predictable.
A year before Trump started to pick up support, and before his border wall idea was tossed into US public discourse like a stink grenade, Dave King was putting the finishing touches to his own campaign to take over Sevco.
At the centre of it was a promise every bit as ridiculous as Trump’s barmy border wall idea, and just as unrealisable. Sevco fans have already woken up to the fact that he hasn’t made good on it; nevertheless, the club claims that next season’s ticket sales are already on course to break their record, set at the start of this campaign.
Before I go any further, I’m going to tell you that I take that claim with a very large pinch of salt. That’s an instinctive move whenever I hear Dave King say something. I am ever mindful of what the South African judge said about not believing what comes out of his mouth, on any subject, unless it is supported by weight of evidence, and we have none of that. It’s his word, and that’s all. I tend not to trust it and I would caution anyone who does. If it’s true then a lot of their fans are more gullible than we thought. If it isn’t then at least it explains the bubbling fountain of brown sludgy water that has gushed out of the ground in support of the statement.
King either appears to be disproving the old adage that you can fool all of the Peepul all of the time, or he’s indulging in that thing he and Trump do like few others; playing The Lying Game. Whether he’s doing so consciously, to deceive others, or whether he’s doing it because he really does believe he’s hot shit and is thereby primarily only deceiving himself is hard to say, but there’s no question that Dave King has brass-necked and bullshitted his way through his tenure thus far and it won’t come as a galloping shock if he’s doing so here.
Because in the same statement he’s made what’s a very clear pitch to those who haven’t yet put down their money; he’s promising to spend every single penny of their season ticket income on the team. Not some of it. Not a percentage. All of it.
And that’s a claim that’s so absurd that believing it ought to be all the self-certification someone trying to talk his way into a mental hospital should require.
Dave King’s initial campaign promise was that he would be willing to gamble with his children’s inheritance if that’s what it took. That the wage bill at Ibrox would need to be doubled. And then doubled again. If that was necessary.
It’s clearly necessary. But he told fans half the money he “promised” has already been spent. On the team no less. Which is exactly what he’s saying now, about this year’s season ticket money. We know he lied when he promised £30 million. We know he continued to lie when he said that so much of it had already gone into the team. We suspect he’s lying now, in fact we’re almost sure of it, but this one feels different somehow, like a boast too far.
With the Congress in no mood to play ball, and Mexico telling Trump straight that if he really does want a border wall that he can put the cost of it on his own gold Amex card, he’s backtracking madly. Now he will let “natural barriers” stand as a deterrent in some areas and the “wall” he promised will be scaled back to a mere fence in other parts.
Even the hillbilly red-necks who voted for this clown know the difference between a fence and a wall though, and the latter is exactly what the border has right now, and they know it doesn’t work because Trump told them so.
Likewise, Sevco fans who’ve read King’s latest statement and haven’t yet bought their tickets are being sweetened up by this promise that every penny they spend will be put back into the team. To them that means it’ll be spent on improvements, on new players, not in ramping up the salaries and bonuses of the existing dreck. In the 24 hours since King made that claim they’ve been linked with a handful of free transfers and the media is trying to whip them up with excitement about a 35 year old defender. The contrast between the vision they are being “sold” by King and the reality of what the press is reporting must be jarring, even for them.
This is the difference between a continuous wall and a partway fence and the only way any of them can believe in the wall is if they ignore every other lie King has told. Which basically means ignoring nearly everything King has ever said.
It doesn’t even matter that, unlike Trump, King never actually promised them a wall in the first place; his talk of every penny going back into the team echoes what Peter Lawwell has repeatedly said about Celtic’s spending priorities. What Peter means, of course, is that some of it goes on support mechanisms, some of it goes on salaries, some of it is spent on coaching and innovations in it, some is spent on youth development and some on transfers.
The first time you heard it, it seemed disingenuous, like a con job.
Now it’s understood as a simple truth.
But King knows how this will be interpreted by the media and by the fans alike, and he’s perfectly happy to have it on the record anyway. For anyone else this would be reckless beyond belief, because they will be expecting £10 million plus for players on the back of those remarks and not one of them will ask, as Trump’s supporters didn’t bother to, what cuts will be needed elsewhere if he was somehow to keep this promise anyway.
With sponsorship deals on the ragged edge, TV money barely enough to feed the electric meter, the Ashley deal still in place and the club already reliant on soft loans just to meet running costs as they stand – and with a lot of potential legal time bombs lying ahead – it’s pretty clear that any effort to run the club in this way would quickly lead to ruination.
Only someone completely unanchored to reality could make such a claim. Only the Scottish media would write it without giving it the slightest scrutiny. But this is King, who doesn’t spend much time over here but knows regardless that our hacks would print or promote any old cobblers as long as it had the old Rangers crest on the press release.
In the end, what it mostly comes down to is that he’s not Trump.
He doesn’t have to face the voters ever again. He has his hands on the controls, and it cost him next to nothing and as long as he’s on the board but hiding in South Africa, he can make whatever foolish promises he wants because no-one will hold him to account for not keeping them. It’s those who he leaves behind who will have to carry the can, who might well have to explain to the Peepul just how big a ride he’s taken them for.
And by the time it’s done, they may well wish they had their own wall to keep the angry hordes at bay.
Chairman Dave won’t care either way.
A shameless self-promoter with his own wine cellar doesn’t have to worry about what the little Peepul think.