Monday, October 03, 2016


I don't want to get all #Slatepitchy and argue that raising the subject of Donald Trump's 1995 taxes was a good thing for him ... but please notice what he's not focusing on anymore. He's not focusing on how contemptible he thinks Alicia Machado is. He's not focusing on decades-old Clinton sex scandals. Yes, he had a stumble today when he suggested that troops with PTSD aren't "strong." But some reporters think he's being unfairly maligned for that:

If you're hoping for a Trump loss, you want him going off on tangents like the Machado story. It's easy to make him go off on such tangents -- just challenge him. But now he's being challenged on taxes -- which makes him want to lash out on a subject that actually seems relevant to the presidency.

As you read the following, try to put your own opinions aside and imagine how this sounds to a persuadable centrist voter. You and I know it's all nonsense, but to a lot of voters I suspect it doesn't sound like nonsense:
Donald Trump on Monday defended his aggressive use of tax laws that likely resulted in him not paying any personal income taxes for nearly two decades, crediting himself for “brilliantly” working the system.

“As a businessman and real estate developer, I have legally used the tax laws to my benefit and to the benefit of my company, my investors and my employers. I mean, honestly, I have brilliantly -- I have brilliantly used those laws,” Trump said during a rally in Pueblo, Colorado. “I have often said on the campaign trail that I have a fiduciary responsibility to pay no more tax than is legally required, like anybody else, or put another way: to pay as little tax as legally possible. And I must tell you, I hate the way they spend our tax dollars.”

... “Fixing our broken tax code is one of the main reasons I’m running for president,” he said. “I’ve been saying from the beginning of this campaign how ridiculous, complex and -- yes, unfair -- the tax system is. It is an unfair system and so complex that very few people understand it.”

... “The unfairness of the tax laws is unbelievable. It’s something I’ve been talking about for a long time, despite, frankly, being a big beneficiary of the laws. But I’m working for you now. I’m not working for Trump. Believe me.”
I know this is ridiculous. CEOs have a "fiduciary responsibility" to lower the taxes of their businesses because that's what they owe shareholders, but these are Trump's personal taxes. And Trump's tax plan doesn't eliminate the inequity in the tax system -- it worsens that inequity.

But this is the kind of rebuttal to the Times story that will keep a lot of middle-of-the-road voters from concluding that Trump has disqualified himself -- this BS sounds plausible and civic-minded. Which means that some of these undecideds (and there are more than usual this year) might come around to Trump if the news cycle swings in his favor soon, or at the very least won't vote for Clinton.

We'll see if I'm right about the reaction to this. But I think it's less damaging to Trump than the multi-day fits of rage he's had targeting Machado, the Khan family, and Judge Curiel. I wish we could get him back on a subject like one of those. Fortunately, I'm sure it'll happen again soon.


Victor said...

Maybe at the town hall debate, Hillary can ask the people who shook both candidates hands, if t-RUMP's were much bigger than hers - a Vagina-American?

He'll go on and on about his dick for the rest of the electiom, until this dick gets gets crushed in early November.

AllieG said...

I kind of agree with you and I kind of don't. Yes, the fact Trump is nuts is probably the best line of attack. But every survey shows the economy is the number one issue yet again, and Trump's image as a master businessman gives him cred there with our wealth-worshiping society. To admit he lost a billion in a year is very damaging to that image. How can anyone do that?

Feud Turgidson said...

Per Victor's comment, the one thing I most liked about Baldwin's parody of Trump was rationalizing Trump's pronunciation of the name the country with the planet's largest human population as "Giana".

sdhays said...

The counterpoint to this is the old saying: if you're explaining, you're losing. If you're just barely paying attention, you now "know" that Donald Trump lost $1 billion in a single year and didn't pay taxes in the last two decades. (I know that this isn't strictly what's been reported, but we're talking about headline readers here). How many of those low information centrist idiots you're talking about are going to hear Trump's actual explanation?

Maybe this isn't the worst topic for him because there are much, much worse things he could be saying, but it does bother him - especially the accusation that he's crappy businessman for losing so much money in a single year. I also like the thought that it's probably eating at him: who was so disloyal and what else do they know????

Mocking the "genius" losing a billion dollars could definitely trigger another Khan/Machado episode. It already did for Rudy Guiliani...

sdhays said...

@Feud Turgidson - "It's pronounced 'Gina'!"

Baldwin was perfect for that part!

Danp said...

It used to be that a scandal like buying a sliver of land from Tony Rezko, or sitting on a non-profit board with William Ayers, or occasionally attending a church with a fire-breathing pastor would keep the media occupied for weeks. Now, we just hope a candidate is on his meds. That said, when we learn that the "trust me" guru lost a billion dollars and is considered a pauper by IRS and banks alike, it's news worthy of obsessive reporting. I don't want the media to go back to the "she's fat" stories quite yet.

flipyrwhig said...

I really don't think "I am brilliant in the way I lost a billion dollars and then paid no taxes for two decades" connects very well with... human beings.

Gummy said...

It's not so much the taxes as the fact that he's not as rich as he claims. And if he wants to prove otherwise then he can release his taxes. Claiming a loss of almost a billion dollars as some brilliant tax move doesn't wash with the public. Trump doesn't claim to be a great accountant. He claims he is rich to the tune of 10 billion dollars. Even if this were so losing a tenth of that in one year hurts his his veneer of being a genius businessman. Even the stupid American public can see that.