Monday, September 28, 2020


I don't want to be the tiresome person who says that the big New York Times story about Donald Trump's tax returns will have no effect on the outcome of the presidential election, but ... it will have no effect on the outcome of the presidential election. It's about ten thousand words. It took me ... what, fifteen minutes to read? Trump fans know he's a great businessman. They know the way they know everything: because they saw it on television. There were 192 episodes of The Apprentice broadcast between 2004 and 2017. Subtract the 13 episodes in the final season that starred Arnold Schwarzenegger, and remember that the show, originally an hour long, was two hours for several of its seasons, and you have fifteen minutes of reading compared with more than two hundred hours of television. All that TV would have been hard to compete with four years ago, never mind now, when 43% of Americans, and a majority of white male Americans, believe not only that Trump is a business genius but that he's a good president, perhaps the best president we've ever had.

The Times story suggests two possibilities: that Trump is much less wealthy (and more in debt) than he claims to be and that he pays far less in taxes than he should. Both appear to be true, but Trump's base simply can't process the first notion, so they're responding only to the second one. The responses, as seen in this Breitbart comment thread, are exactly what you'd expect: What about Soros? What about Hunter? What about other Democrats? And of course everyone should pay very little in taxes, because freedom! (Except Hunter and Soros and Democrats in Congress, presumably.)
I'm also seeing responses like this: I believe the meaning of this is: Liberal Democrats run the government, so they're responsible for the tax provisions Trump took advantage of. But Republicans have held the White House for 24 of the past 40 years, have controlled the Senate for 22 of those 40 years, have controlled the House for 20 of those years, and have dominated the Supreme Court for all 40 years.

But you'll never get a right-winger to believe that. To the right, government is liberal, and cheating the government is patriotic (unless you're a liberal). This story might make Trumpers like him even more than they already do. But since they can only vote for him once each, it doesn't matter.

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