If the President Really Acted Like a Mafia Boss

A year ago Ezra Klein of Vox tweeted “Trump would have made a great mafia boss.”

And now comes a June 1 Vanity Fair post: “The President Is Acting Like a Mob Boss” with the head lifted from this quote from Robert Grant, a former FBI agent:

To Grant, Trump’s strategy is nothing new: “The president is acting like a mob boss,” he said. “When you conduct a corruption investigation, you are either going to do it proactively with sources and wires, or you are going to do it by flipping people, by catching them in their bad behavior. . . . What Trump is doing here is he is attempting to interfere with that. Just like a mobster does, just like a gang member [does]. They say, ‘You go to jail for me on this drug-trafficking charge, I will take care of your family, your commissary down in prison, and you don’t flip.’ So I think that is what is going on here. He is attempting to discredit all avenues of investigation.”

In 1980, Vic Gold, reacting in frustration to President Jimmy Carter’s bumbling presidency, wrote “If a Mafia Boss Ran the Country” for The Washingtonian. A shortened version:

It was an offer we couldn’t refuse. We were a nation in search of leadership. So it was that by 1980 the American people, disgusted by the President Jimmy Carter’s bungling Georgia Mafia, were ready to to turn the real thing—the Mafia Mafia.

As the Boss of Bosses informed us in his inaugural address, we were going to be “one happy family.” He was speaking figuratively, since under the new regime’s territorial divisions, the country would actually be run by four families, headed by a quartet of underbosses who reported to the Boss of Bosses.

Right from the star—the memorable address from the Capitol steps—we knew we had a man in charge. According to Evans and Novak, the speech had been written by the number-one White House speechwriter, Jimmy Breslin. Germond and Witcover, however, claimed that Breslin’s draft had been rewritten by the new administration’s resident intellectual, Mario Puzo. Whatever the case, the text, which was delivered in short, staccato bursts, was notable for its raw simplicity.

“Gonna tell you once,” rasped the new President, glaring into the cameras, “I’m not going to repeat myself.”

The following morning, the Boss of Bosses held his first and only news conference. He was asked to spell out his agenda for the country. “That’s a good question,” he replied. “Don’t ask it again.”

No hemming and hawing: Finally there was someone in the Oval Office who wouldn’t bend to the winds of public opinion.

The Washington Post complained about infringements on press freedom, and the Washington Star objected when members of the Cabinet—renamed the Commission—refused to speak to reporters. But the vast majority of Americans were ready for a leadership that gave them more action and less talk….

“For the first time in years,” wrote one reporter, “we have a woman in the White House who, when asked, says she doesn’t know what her husband’s business is and doesn’t want to know.”

He is, as his closest aides describe him, “a very, very private man.” On quiet evenings at home, he prefers the company of trusted friends, engaging in long dialogues with his favorite economist, Meyer Lansky. His favorite actor is Sly Stallone. His favorite sports team is the Washington Bullets. His favorite hymn is “Shall We Gather by the River” His favorite song is “Stayin’ Alive.”

After reordering the priorities of his administration team, the Boss of Bosses was ready to tackle the problem of world peace, which he did in December 1981 at the Appalachian summit meeting. Or, as he preferred to call it, “The Big Sit-Down.”

Every major world leader, along with a few territorial capos, was in attendance. That was a historic first. But the real first was that for once the American people were sending a chief executive into the negotiations with foreign leaders figuring our side had the edge.

For an example, the Big Boss had no difficulty in arriving at an agreement with his Russian counterpart. Still, ceremonial appearances were maintained: The Russian gave our leader a sleek black Zis sedan as a token of esteem, and in return our leader gave the Russian a sleek black Cadillac hearse.

Nobody ever claimed to see anything subtle in the way the Big Boss got his ideas across.

On the morning preceding the big sit-down, the Ayatollah Khomeini and Muammar Qaddafi each woke up to find a sacred ram’s head at the foot of the bed.

Anwar Sadat, Menachem Begin, King Khalid, and Yasser Arafat found themselves stuck in the same elevator between floors for six hours.

By noon of the second day, forever after known as the Day of a Hundred Embraces, it was all wrapped up. Signed, sealed, and delivered.

Peace—it was wonderful. And with the Big Boss cut in for the percentage of the action, we knew those Middle East wells would keep pumping.

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