|DOUGLAS FRIEDMAN / HARPER'S BAZAAR|
When Donald Trump announced that he was running for president in June 2015, the setting was perfect for what at the time was his biggest celebrity stunt ever: Trump Tower on New York's ritzy Fifth Avenue.
While not exactly evoking images of Washington skipping rocks across the Potomac at Mount Vernon or Lincoln studying law by firelight in a log cabin, the Tower was Trump's Xanadu and the future president was the Kubla Khan of this stately, if somewhat garish pleasure dome. He never stopped gushing about
his opulent penthouse, let alone showing it off to architecture and fashion magazines, and he seemed to spend more time there than out on the hustings getting his small hands dirty campaigning, obviously preferring its gilded pleasures and panoramic view to the Federalist pile at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue that was to be his home for the next four years.
It was anticipated that Trump would return to the Tower often after his inauguration. After all, that's where wife Melania and son Barron were most comfortable. Him, too. But a funny thing happened on the way to the first 50 days of the Trump presidency: He has avoided his castle in the sky like the plague.
Perhaps he is staying away because of the many crises he's having to manage -- all entirely of his own making, of course.
But a more plausible explanation is that befitting the coward that Trump is, he knows that his homecoming, whenever it might occur, will provoke massive protests -- and perhaps worse -- and not even an illusionist of his caliber will be able to pretend that the mobs held back by phalanxes of police in riot gear on Fifth Avenue some 58 floors below his penthouse is the Welcome Wagon but rather a manifestation of the hatred many New Yorkers feel for a man whom they came to loath, albeit sometimes with a voyeuristic fascination, many years before the rest of us.
Even without Trump's presence, his Tower has caused enormous disruptions not just on Fifth Avenue, but well beyond Midtown Manhattan and for many miles around. There has been a decline in foreign tourists for the first time since after the 9/11 attacks that city officials attribute to Trump.
Presidents, of course, need to be kept out of harm's way. But befitting a man for whom lavishness is a way of life, the security precautions are excessive because the man is, too, and the toll they are taking on ordinary New Yorkers (and his neighbors at his Mar-a-Lago in Florida, as well) is but one manifestation of how he soils everything he touches. Even his castle in the sky.