The shills, the marks, and the suckers.

Don’t be snookered by Donald Trump’s recent drift into near-decency. That’s the kind of play a con man can make in his sleep.

Con for those who have forgotten, is not short for confusion or concealment or condescension. It’s short for confidence. Your confidence. A con man has but one aim—to win your trust, then gain something from you that you’d rather not give up. Most often it’s cash, but with Donald Trump, your cash is not required: he already has the keys to the vault. For some reason many of us seemed comfortable giving them to him a few weeks back. Even if I wasn’t one of them, maybe I was fooled anyway. Maybe I underestimated his expertise, didn’t take him seriously enough, didn’t work hard enough to defeat him. Water under the bridge now, but the Trump con has been working full bore since November 9—and we have to make sure we aren’t snookered anymore.

Here are some cons currently in play:

1. He won’t prosecute Hillary Clinton.
The con: I’m a good guy who lets bygones be bygones.
The truth: It’s not his call. The Justice Department operates autonomously, even though the president may make suggestions. He can’t prosecute anybody.

2. He met cordially with the New York Times publisher and editorial staff.
The con: I’ve declared a truce with the newspapers and walked back my threatened libel law changes.
The truth: taking on Stephen Bannon as a staff member in any position above groundskeeper undoes any overtures of peace he has made to the working press.
Bonus: If you have time, read (skim?) the somewhat disconcerting transcript of Trump’s Times interview. The man has no idea what he’s doing and is practically begging for someone to help him. He keeps saying he has an open mind. I agree—if open and empty are synonyms.

3. Immigration and closed borders will take a back seat to fixing the economy.
The con: I’ll be the president of all Americans, white, black, Latino….
The truth: building the wall will bankrupt the country and Mexico will never pay for it. It’ll be easier to back off, then let the rabble that screamed nativist and xenophobic insults during his rallies promote policy on their own.

4. He’s brought women and minorities into his sphere of influence.
The con: I have great respect for women and they love me.
The truth: Nikki Haley doesn’t. The South Carolina governor (of Indian descent) excoriated Trump during the primaries and he in turn called her as an embarrassment. Whatever she says now, that’s on record. Betsy DeVos does align herself with Trump, maybe because she’s wealthier, but if you expect her to promote public education, check her record: she’s in love with vouchers, magnet schools, and charter schools. She wants less federal funding for education. Hers is a self-defeating philosophy, but even so she can do a lot of damage: if there’s inequity in public education now, DeVos will make sure it continues. Choosing her was not a bow to women—it was a bow to plutocracy.

5. He called for unity on Thanksgiving.
The con: he regrets all that divisive campaign rhetoric and wants to make amends.          The truth: he doesn’t, but even he recognizes trouble ahead. The promises he made while pandering to Klansmen and white supremacists run counter to the ideas of most of his more reasonable supporters, including the members of his own party. Meanwhile the demand for a recount is growing and the Woman’s March on Washington—scheduled for the day after Trump’s inauguration—boasts over 100,000 intended participants. Calling for unity is like playing whack-a-mole…with too many moles.

There are more cons ahead and we’re all queued up to be the shills, the marks, the suckers. Anyone who can dupe the IRS out of paying taxes for two decades will have no problem with us. This is where I should advise the reader to parse Trump’s future words carefully, but I’m well past the magnanimity of giving him the benefit of the doubt. Don’t believe anything Donald Trump says: it’ll save time.

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