I was in some godforsaken part of the Highlands, working on stories about off-the-beaten-path golf courses. Trump had bigger sheep to shear: hobnobbing with local pols, holding cocktail parties with people whose land he intended to buy and grandly announcing his plans to build "the best golf course in the world." Forget Old Tom Morris; Donald Trump is the man.
Oh, and he found time to threaten a wind-farm project if the organizers dared to build their unsightly windmills where he and his buddies could see them from his new course.
"When I look across the ocean from the 18th hole, to be honest, what I want to see is the ocean," Trump told Scotland's Sunday Herald. "I don't want to see windmills."
Is ignorance as renewable as arrogance?
If I had the capacity to be embarrassed about being American, Donald Trump might be the one American who could make it happen. And I'm not even talking about his hairstyle, which should have its own reality show. (There's your obligatory Trump hair joke.)
Every Scot I talked to over there about Trump's $540 million plan either shook his head or muttered something I could barely understand. Probably some Scottish curse.
The project includes a 500-room Victorian-style hotel and golf academy, all of which will overlook the ocean and, if Trump has his way, no damned windmills.
Of course, business leaders in the area are salivating over what some are calling the biggest economic boon to the region since oil was discovered in the North Sea. Businessmen are the same the world over, save for the accent. Ditto Scottish politicians, who are falling all over themselves responding to Trump's attentions and his professed love for his ancestral homeland.
Trump's mother vacated the Western Isles during the Depression, and Trump has held a traditional Robert Burns supper in his lavish Fifth Avenue digs. I wonder if he is aware that Burns is the poet of the poor, or knows the following lines of "To a louse":
O wad some Pow'r the giftie gie us
To see ourselves as others see us!
It would from many a blunder free us
and foolish notion:
What airs in dress and gait would leave us
and even devotion!
The BBC is reporting that the Scottish government has made Trump an international ambassador for the country. Here in the States, that would be akin to making James Watt head of the Department of the Interior. Oh, right, they did that. Sorry, I forgot.
Trump wants to build his grand course on an 800-acre stretch of dunes north of Aberdeen. Some of the dunes are said to be 4,000 years old and there are rare plants amid the windswept terrain.
"There are clearly concerns the plan is on an important site for biodiversity," Gregor McCabery of Aberdeen Friends of the Earth told the Sunday Herald. "This could upset a nature area. Trump has absolutely no business interfering with the offshore wind project."
Then there's the freeway, or what the British call a dual carriageway. It's supposed to bypass the busy city of Aberdeen so Trump can whisk himself and his friends from the airport to the course without getting his hair mussed.
The problem is the road leads through what is now greenbelt. It was added to the development plan at the last minute by the government, without going through the public consultation supposedly required for all such projects.
Trump has been through this sort of thing before. His plans for a massive course in upstate New York were derailed in 2004 by residents who said it would pollute their water supply with the runoff fertilizer and pesticides.
Fortunately, Scottish conservation groups are getting similarly interested. They're banding together to oppose the project.
So now it's time for Trump to get kicked out of Scotland. They should get one of those big, beefy guys in a kilt to kick him in his broad butt on the way out, but that probably won't happen. The project is raising legal issues, but money has a way of solving the stickiest of those.
Already, there are signs money is winning. The Aberdeen Renewable Energy Group is scaling back its windmill project, though it denies that caving in to Trumpian pressure.
Is it possible to fire a country?
June 5, 2006
Simply select where you want to play, find a tee time deal, and golf now!