I have to say, for once I almost sympathize with Donald Trump.

Donald Trump
This seems about right. (Manuel Balce Ceneta / Associated Press)

Snow is now falling briskly in the underworld, but it can’t be helped. It is not that my opinion of the Trumpster has changed. I still think he is a less appealing Jabba the Hutt in a bad toupee. But still.

According to the AP:

New York’s attorney general sued Donald Trump for $40 million Saturday, saying the real estate mogul helped run a phony “Trump University” that promised to make students rich but instead steered them into expensive and mostly useless seminars, and even failed to deliver promised apprenticeships. … Attorney General Eric Schneiderman says many of the 5,000 students who paid up to $35,000 thought they would at least meet Trump but instead all they got was their picture taken in front of a life-size picture of “The Apprentice” TV star.

“Trump University engaged in deception at every stage of consumers’ advancement through costly programs and caused real financial harm,” Schneiderman said. “Trump University, with Donald Trump’s knowledge and participation, relied on Trump’s name recognition and celebrity status to take advantage of consumers who believed in the Trump brand.”

There is another word for “consumers who believed in the Trump brand” enough to pay $35,000 to go to Donald Trump University, and it rhymes with “Borons.”

New York is suing Trump for fraud. Maybe the word “University” shouldn’t have been in the name, but does the state of New York always swoop in on such cases? If so, I know some people who paid $12.50 each to attend “Monsters University” at their local cinemas who learned very little about being monsters and became, if anything, less attractive as hiring prospects.

Also, doesn’t the proximity of the name “Donald Trump” in the phrase “Donald Trump University” cancel out “university,” like “Facebook” in “Facebook privacy”?

Donald Trump University didn’t make you rich? Donald Trump can barely make Donald Trump rich!

What did people think they were going to get out of this? Even if the program did what it promised — offered you an instructor hand-picked by Donald Trump who showed you the way to replicate The Donald’s success — you wouldn’t actually be much better off. “Okay,” the instructor would say. “First, be born the son of real estate developer Fred Trump. Then lose a lot of money. Call me back when you’ve completed that step, and we’ll discuss hair options.”

Fraud is wrong. But if you looked at this offering and your thought was, “Great! I will just give Donald Trump $35,000, and then I’ll be a millionaire like him!” maybe you needed this wake-up call before you embarked on any other business ventures, like, say, mailing Elon Musk your life savings “as an investment.” What was your backup plan, to buy 2000 As Seen On TV Earwax Vacuums, and use the $50,000 you “saved” to start a business?

Among the complaints raised in the attorney general’s press release: “Despite claims to the contrary, consumers who paid for and attended the three-day seminars were not taught everything they needed to know about real estate investing.” MY GOD! THEY WEREN’T?

I’m not saying that this wasn’t a scam. But if someone promises to sell you a Magical Golden Goose That Will Fix All Your Problems, Control The Winds, And Make Your Children Appreciate You The Way You Always Wanted — is it entirely on them if it turns out to be a waste of $39.99 (shipping and handling not included)? Most people on earth are not Scientologists.

You didn’t get any valuable lessons? You had to shake hands with a cardboard cutout? What were you expecting when you signed up for DONALD TRUMP UNIVERSITY? Did you misread the name as A UNIVERSITY THAT IS AN ACTUAL UNIVERSITY THAT IS IN NO WAY AFFILIATED WITH DONALD TRUMP? Because if not, I think you got what was coming to you. In fact, getting to shake hands with a cardboard cutout is probably a step up from a photo with the actual Trump, whose hair might bite you.

Look, paying $35,000 to go to Donald Trump University is like buying an expensive certificate that says DO NOT ENTRUST ME WITH MONEY! in big letters with Trump’s signature at the bottom.

Trump’s lawyer told the AP that “Trump University provided nearly 11,000 testimonials to Schneiderman from students praising the program and said 98 percent of students in a survey termed the program ‘excellent.’ ”
OF course they did. If you are the sort of person who was going to pay Donald Trump $35,000 for a degree in the first place, you probably expected this sort of thing.

Besides, if you look at the value people are getting from actual Trump-free universities — who knows if you’re much worse off?

Alexandra Petri writes the ComPost blog, offering a lighter take on the news and opinions of the day.