Trump's getting unfair rap on PTSD comments today— John Harwood (@JohnJHarwood) October 3, 2016
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.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.
“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.”
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.