Commentary: As Trump ponders his legacy, what will his library look like?

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks at the beginning of a new conference with members of the coronavirus task force, including Vice President Mike Pence, on Feb. 26, 2020. Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks at the beginning of a new conference with members of the coronavirus task force, including Vice President Mike Pence, on Feb. 26, 2020. (Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)

As a COVID-19 infectious President Trump stumbles about the White House and ‘roid rage tweets, you have to think someone in the eerily quiet corridors must be pondering the very near future.  Once you’ve bleached your resume of being associated with the Trump-tanic, what to do next?  One task would be planning where the Trump Presidential Library will be and what it will look like.

Richard Luscombe, writing earlier this year in The Guardian, speculated that one location possibility is Briny Breezes, a trailer park on a barrier island just twelve miles south of Trump’s Mar-A-Lago in Florida.  Trump a decade ago sniffed about acquiring the property, and certainly putting presidential records on a barrier island accessible only by water taxi could give Trump a warning when criminal investigators are on their way.

The problem is that Briny Breezes might cost Trump nearly a billion dollars to acquire.  Sure, he could try to set up some sort of fund, but he’s already had to admit to misuse of charitable fundraising dollars in a New York court settlement.  The low-lying property also has many infrastructure problems, including a crumbling old sea wall.  Unless Mexico volunteers to build that wall, it seems like a disgraced former president already in debt roughly $400 million would not have the credit to buy land vulnerable to hurricanes and sea-level rise.

Chuck Todd in 2019 on Meet The Press casually brought up a presidential library.  Trump volunteered that Florida would be a good location, and “I have a lot of locations actually. The nice part, I don’t have to worry about buying a location.”  So, clearly Trump is thinking of propping up his struggling Doral Golf Resort, or perhaps his declining Mar-A-Lago property.

One possible location for the Donald Trump Presidential Library is Briny Breezes, a trailer park on a barrier island just twelve miles south of Trump’s Mar-A-Lago in Florida. Unfortunately, it might cost a $1 billion to acquire.

So, if this is going to be done on the cheap, I recommend the librarians simply buy The Daily Show’s award-winning Donald J. Trump Presidential Twitter Library.  The mobile displays drew large crowds in Washington, D.C., Austin, Miami, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago and New York City.  After all, the Trump Library (memorializing a person who does not like to read) likely will be short on books, except for The Art of the Deal available in the gift shop, and deep in the basement the Compendium of Unread Presidential Daily Briefings.

Like other Florida attractions, the Trump Library would rely on theme-park rides.  The least popular likely will be Melania’s Be Best ride.  The ride could be a moving sidewalk that takes guests past Melania’s famous “I Really Don’t Care, Do You?” jacket; the air is punctuated with crying children as we turn the corner to see animatronic migrant children in cages.  The ride finishes with participants winding through a forest of crimson Christmas trees while we hear an audio track of the former first lady saying “Who gives a f— about Christmas stuff and decoration?”

The COVID Simulator could be quite scary, at least as frightening as Donald’s Hall of Shattered Rules and Norms—a disorienting hall of mirrors and distractions.  Visitors can stand for photo-ops with life-size cardboard versions of the 45thpresident in the Oval Office, or whipping off his mask on a White House balcony, or holding a Bible in front of a church (with a whiff of tear gas in the room for added reality simulation).

The Library and Theme Park also will be tied strongly to visitor accommodation deals in the resorts.  VIPs can do golf rounds while they are tweeted global and national crises to ignore.  Big spenders can stay in an exact replica Moscow Ritz Carlton, booked as the Golden Shower Room.

While all of these seem only modestly removed from the potential look of a Trump Presidential Library, at this point the more prudent course is to buy an old bookmobile that the whole Trump family can use to head for the border when prosecutors come calling.