When Donald Trump, 69, made his first visit to Ireland after purchasing the Doonbeg Golf Course in Co. Clare last year he was met at Shannon Airport by musicians, airport bosses, a host of local dignitaries and Irish Minister for Finance Michael Noonan.
The only people missing were Bosco, Dana and Dustin the Turkey some critics said. Salivating at the prospect of some much needed gold, backslapping political masters appeared prepared to deliver an insincere Cead Mile Failte to just about anyone, whether Trump liked it or not.
So the red carpet was rolled out and Trump was greeted as a kind of visiting dignitary, instead of what director Anthony Baxter argues he really is: a self-centered plutocrat whose grand promises of jobs and benefits never seem to work out for the local economy after all the purchasing papers have been signed.
Baxter is a Scottish-born documentary filmmaker and investigative journalist, and in "A Dangerous Game" he examines the ways that Trump bluntly uses his money and fame to get his own way.
Trump is really selling us all fool's gold and enriching only himself, Baxter insists. Those who dismiss him as a self-aggrandizing buffoon really don't understand the scale of the damage that he can do.
Endless court battles, massive environmental damage and the ruining of ordinary people's lives are all in a day's work for the tantrumming tycoon, Baxter insists.
Creating luxury destinations for the super rich is Trump's biggest money spinner and a global enterprise for the property developer/presidential candidate, but the environmental impact can be disastrous. “He’s very active in Ireland now as well,” Baxter tells the Irish Voice/IrishCentral.
Baxter's previous film "You've Been Trumped" claimed that Trump's development of a Scottish site resulted in the wholesale environmental destruction of what he calls a site of special scientific interest.
It can come as a surprise to many that a golf course can have such a catastrophic environmental impact until Baxter shows us that a cocktail of chemicals are frequently used on the world's top courses to keep them pristine, and locals fear they end up in the local water supply.
Other kinds of negative environmental impacts can been seen in Trump resorts like the one in Las Vegas that Baxter filmed, where the developer has built a huge man-made lake that uses billions of gallons of water every year in a pretty landscaping feature that's only justification is to impress his deep pocketed guests.
Using his global celebrity, Trump has frequently opened doors that are closed to others. In Scotland he even managed to build a flashy playground for the one percent on what one scientist called “the crown jewels of Scotland's natural heritage.”
Rarely does Trump seem very satisfied with his triumphs, however. In fact there always seems to be some issue that prompts him to threaten to pull the plug on the entire enterprise if the pesky local authorities dare to stand in his way.
“After getting into a furious rage over the wind farms that are being built on the coast of Scotland, which he claimed would ruin the view on his Scottish golf course, he pulled the plug on building a planned second course there and said he’d move to Ireland instead,” Baxter said.
It was a classic Trump-style counter threat. If you don’t let me do as I wish I’ll take my ball (i.e., my money) and go to Ireland instead.
And it turned out he was as good as his word.
Trump bought the Doonbeg golf course in Clare in 2014 and immediately got into a protracted fight with the local authority because he wanted to put rock armor along the beach, to shore up the coastline along his exclusive golf course.
But as luck would have it, a rare protected snail lives on Doonbeg beach, which meant Trump couldn’t put his all desired boulders in right away.
“When that happened he once again threatened to sue the local authority saying, ‘I’m going to have to close and all these jobs will be lost,’” Baxter explains. “It was almost history repeating itself. Endless expensive court battles that he has the resources to win. In fact it seems to be the case that wherever Donald Trump goes these sort of court cases erupt.”
In Scotland the latest golf course was to be built on a site of special scientific interest, and in Ireland it was rare snails who threw a spanner in the works. But money makes everything equal. In Scotland political leaders, frantic for a bit of good economic news, were easily swayed by ludicrous economic projections that Trump was going to create 6,000 new jobs Baxter says.
“We know for a fact that he’s created less than 200 jobs, not 6000,” Baxter explains. “He said he was going to invest $1.5 billion in Scotland but he’s invested a fraction of that, certainly under $100 million. We know that when Mr. Trump says one thing he does another, but the problem is lots of politicians believe him.”
In "A Dangerous Game" we watch as the all-but-salivating Irish Finance Minister Noonan says he can’t wait to get his hands on the money that Trump promised the Irish.
“In Ireland we saw the red carpet being rolled out for him and the harpists coming out to play and we had the bagpipes come out as though Trump was on some sort of state visit,” Baxter says.
“It was just extraordinary. The problem is how many politicians accept all this rubbish as fact.”
Chat shows all over the world are having terrific fun now mocking Trump's presidency run because he often says ridiculous things, but one of things Baxter's film does is show that he also does very dangerous things.
“His completely unfounded claims are eaten up by politicians without checking. Trump is a developer, that’s what he does, and we put our trust in our politicians to scrutinize the claims made by men like him,” Baxter says.
Unfortunately in Scotland and Ireland that simply wasn’t done.
“Now we have a site of special scientific interest that has been completely destroyed by a golf course. It will never recover and none of the economic benefits that were promised,” Baxter says.
Ireland is next presumably, and it may be only a matter of time before the bulldozers roll.
Waiting in the wings, the new film also reminds us, is Donald Trump Junior, who Baxter says is an even more alarming prospect.
“We have pictures of him on safari hunt posing with the dead elephants and leopards that he has shot. He defends his actions in the film by saying that shooting them has boosted the economy of the local area,” Baxter says. “Believe it or not.”
"A Dangerous Game" opened June 26.