WASHINGTON – Let them eat cake.
Specifically, let them eat Jean-Georges Warm Chocolate Cake.
But let them start with Young Garlic Soup with Thyme and Sauteed Frog Legs.
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Let them follow that with Diver Scallops, Caramelized Cauliflower and Caper-Raisin Emulsion.
And let them proceed to Niman Ranch Lamb Chops with Mushroom Bolognese and Pecorino, as well as Dry Aged Prime Sirloin with Citrus Glazed and Roasted Carrots, Miso Butter and Dill.
That’s what President-elect Donald Trump and Mitt Romney ate when the billionaire met Tuesday night with Mr. Forty-Seven Percent to discuss a job in the incoming administration. Compared with the billionaire Trump, Romney is a relative piker, with a net worth of a mere quarter billion.
Romney’s wealth would be dwarfed by at least three billionaires in Trump’s Cabinet and sub-cabinet, in addition to Trump himself: would-be education secretary Betsy DeVos, whose family worth is $5.1 billion, commerce secretary pick Wilbur Ross ($2.9 billion), and deputy commerce choice Todd Ricketts, whose family fortune is also in the billions. Harold Hamm, a possible energy secretary, is worth $15 billion.
Remember Trump’s talk about taking on the elites and the well-connected? Well, you can stick a sterling-silver fork in it.
The Trump campaign, a revolution of sans-culottes, has yielded to a Trump transition that feels more like Mel Brooks’s “History of the World, Part I.”
Count de Monet: It is said that the people are revolting.
King Louis XVI: You said it. They stink on ice!
If you feared that Trump would destabilize markets and impose reckless protectionism, his early appointments are reassuring. If you wanted him to shake up the system and depose the coastal elites – well, early signs are you’ve been had.
Goldman Sachs was a bete noire of the Trump campaign, figuring prominently in his closing ad, widely seen as anti-Semitic, denouncing a “global power structure” controlling the country. Trump blasted Hillary Clinton’s speeches to the investment bank and highlighted it as a pillar of the corrupt establishment, saying it had “total control” over his opponents.
But Trump just named former Goldman Sachs partner (and Hollywood executive) Steven Mnuchin to be his treasury secretary. And he’s reportedly in talks to hire Goldman’s No. 2 executive, Gary Cohn, to be his budget director. Both men are Jewish – a welcome sign that Trump is dropping the sinister themes of his campaign, but no doubt a disappointment to the bigoted alt-right, who cheered Trump’s rise. (Alt-right ally Stephen K. Bannon, to be Trump’s White House strategist, also used to work at Goldman.)
Mnuchin, worth about $40 million, and Cohn, who according to Bloomberg News owns at least $175 million in Goldman stock, are lightweights on Trump’s Team of Oligarchs. But they are ahead of Trump’s pick for transportation secretary (Elaine Chao and her husband, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, are worth a paltry $22 million) and Health and Human Services (Tom Price is a pauper at $14 million). Possible Labor pick Andrew Puzder, who earns only $4 million a year as a restaurant-chain executive, might need food stamps to afford Cabinet lunches.
These must be who Trump had in mind when he promised to help the “forgotten men and women.” They will profit hugely from his plan to reduce the top income tax rate to 33 percent from 39.6 percent.
Remember Trump’s vow to “drain the swamp,” and his boast that he’s too rich to be bought by donors?
Those who funded Trump are getting a good return on their investments: As The Washington Post’s Matea Gold reported, Mnuchin, Ross, Ricketts and their families gave hundreds of thousands to help Trump win. And foreign diplomats are flocking to the new Trump International Hotel in Washington to curry favor.
Trump made a core issue of Clinton’s conflicts of interest because of the Clinton Foundation. But his transition has been full of such entanglements, as he and his children mix affairs of state and business interests with Indian, Japanese and Turkish counterparts. Trump remains vague about whether and how he will separate his presidency from the business ties he has to two dozen countries.
Trump’s inaugural extravaganza is shaping up to be a new standard for the pay-to-play politics he campaigned against. Those giving $1 million or more toward the $75 million party weekend will get perks including an “intimate dinner” with Vice President-elect Mike Pence and his wife. Those who can only afford $250,000 get an “intimate policy discussion and dinner with select Cabinet officials.”
No word yet on the menu for when these high rollers meet Trump’s billionaire appointees. But you can bet it will be rich.
Follow Dana Milbank on Twitter @Milbank.