There will come a day when Donald Trump’s presidency fades into a distant scar, and Twitter is reduced to irrelevancy—when the power of the Trump clan is decentralized across the transnational oligarchy à la the Bush dynasty, politically neutered, powerful in name only. And when that day comes, Washington D.C.’s Trump Hotel will go the way of Trump Taj Mahal, Trump Plaza, Trump Mortgage and Trump University, signifying the inevitable renewal of the bourgeois, the endnote to its creator’s dominance over history.
The only difference is this hotel’s heyday is eternal.
Given the American way of romanticizing decadent watering holes of yesteryear, including the president’s onetime playpens Studio 54 and Limelight (the latter of which is now a gym), the space the Trump Hotel occupies in Washington will transform into a fixture of our psyche. While politics has long intersected with big business, no other institution has ever embodied the convergence quite so audaciously as the Trump Hotel D.C.—where lobbyists day drink with foreign nationals, where arrested political operatives receive standing ovations from wealthy Republican donors, where telecommunications companies spend hundreds of thousands of dollars following mergers. The Trump Hotel DC is more than “a safe space for conservatives,” as many Washingtonians have dubbed it: It is an altar to the greed which made Trump great, built by his cult of personality, a church to the very swamp he promised to drain.
When I visited the palace of worship during this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), the party swelled like Gatsby. Underneath crystal-kissed chandeliers and a towering American flag synonymous with the president, suited creatures intoxicated by their own respective standings in Trumpland worshipped self—the fringes interwoven into the core of the GOP mainstream with stitching as white as the lobby’s cream-colored carpet. A newly elected GOP club president currently advising a Nazi-friendly German Party (one which endorses shooting migrant children and forgetting about the Holocaust) beelined for one of the bar’s cocktails (several days later appearing in photos with one of the president’s 2020 advisors). The 21-year-old agitator referred to the FBI for peddling a disinformation campaign about the special counsel posed for a photograph with the president’s former deputy chief of staff—the latter of whom’s significant other lamented online about not being able to use racial slurs.
Reporters orbited the turquoise sofas like vultures, waiting for the drunken slip they could reverberate across Twitter before having their scoop immediately buried by the never-ending avalanche of scandal. American flag lapel pins. Bellinis. Bacon hanging from miniature racks like cattle. Talk of scamming baby boomers (How will Fake News disseminate once they’re gone?).
Cafe Milano-style banquet halls for the ruling class come in seasons, but castles enabling their nightmares last forever.