Long and short of it is, it's all about the pole

Everybody's got this Donald Trump flag story all wrong.

It's not about the flag.

It's about the pole.

And what's amazing is that Trump settled for such a small flagpole.

Let me back up and explain.

Without getting zoning approval, Trump put an 80-foot flagpole in the front yard of the Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach. He immediately began flying a jumbo American flag on the rogue flagpole - not the first schemer to cover his tracks with a patriotic feint.

But the real issue here is the flagpole. It has the unfortunate distinction of being both too big for the town and not big enough for Trump.

First, let's look at it from the town's perspective: The flagpole is an affront to the town's rigorously defended zoning code, which has set a 42-foot pole limit.

And with Trump, you've got to figure that the American flag that's up there now is just a place-holder to leverage approval for the pole. Once the pole is unchallenged, he can fly something more suitable to his tastes - a red, yellow and black banner with the word "Trump" in letters big enough to be seen across the Intracoastal.

So the town, in an effort to avoid being branded as unpatriotic, will have to focus its complaints on the pole, while Trump pretends it's all about his unquenchable patriotic yearnings.

A mid-life crisis

But the pole is really Trump's prize, too.

Let's look at things from his perspective: The real estate market is tanking. The shine is off his TV show, The Apprentice. And his newlywed days are over. He's just another frumpy, ever-expanding middle-age husband somewhere on life's back nine.

This is mid-life crisis time. Time to get yourself a big pole.

But that's my main beef with Trump here. His pole just isn't big enough, certainly not up to Trump standards of excess.

Sure, he can say he's got the biggest pole in Palm Beach, but that's like saying you've got the biggest tofu concession at a NASCAR track.

I talked with Mark Peterson, who owns H.A. Peterson & Sons, a flagpole supplier in Miami. I asked him about Trump's 80-foot pole, and how impressive that was in the pantheon of poledom.

"There are tons of 80-foot poles out there," Peterson said. "That's like the ones you see at the car dealers."

So unless his secret plan is to turn the club into Mar-a-Lago Motors, it looks like, for once, Donald Trump ... oh, I can't believe I'm going to say this ... came up short while making a public display of his ego.

The King of the poles

If you want to see a big pole, you've got to see the one that Peterson erected for boxing promoter Don King, outside King's offices in Deerfield Beach. You can see that one from I-95, near the Hillsboro Boulevard exit.

Don King's flagpole is a 150-foot spire of steel, and it's flanked by a pair of 100-foot flagpoles.

Trump would have to double the size of his pole to have a bigger one than King.

So, I feel a little bad for Trump. Bad that he has gotten so far off his game. Bad that he didn't try to get a bigger pole than the 150-footer that King has lurking just over the horizon.

So, here's my suggestion. The town ought to just consider itself lucky and turn a blind eye to Trump's pole.

A younger Trump would have ordered up a 151-foot pole. Antagonizing him now over such a mediocre attempt at excess might be considered cruel, and possibly costly in litigation.

He's at a fragile stage of life. The smart thing to do might just be to present him with a bronze plaque of thanks and inscribe it: "To Donald Trump, in appreciation for his enormous flagpole, the biggest pole on Palm Beach."

It's the least we could do to help him through this crisis.

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