Saturday, October 01, 2016

The Donald Chronicles: Hingeless

Alec Baldwin plays the Donald on Saturday Night Live,
reportedly using the Sarah Palin method of satirizing him
in Trump's own words.
Once again, we give the opening words to Politico, in their story headlined: Bombshell report on Trump taxes sends GOP nominee reeling:

"It took less than a day for October to produce an "October surprise."Donald Trump reported a nearly $1 billion loss on his 1995 tax returns and could therefore have avoided paying federal income taxes for almost two decades, the New York Times reported on Saturday, putting another unexpected exclamation point on what had already been one of the worst weeks for any presidential nominee in recent memory."

The New York Times story (released tonight, likely to be their front page Sunday) explains how they got portions of Trump's 1995 returns, how they verified them (with the man who did Trump's taxes) and what their experts said was likely to happen afterwards--Trump pays no taxes for perhaps 18 years.  The Trump campaign issued a non-denial denial (check your Watergate reporting for what that means) and of course threatened to sue.

But as Benjy Sarlin and Alex Seitz-Wald wrote at NBC, the story "fed into three lines of attack that Hillary Clinton had used to needle him in Monday's debate. One: That his refusal to release his taxes suggested he was concealing something important. Two: That his returns might show his business acumen was overstated. Three: That he paid little or no taxes despite his vast wealth.

And it lent credence to her larger argument that Trump is a heartless scrooge who left a trail of financial destruction on his path to wealth, and who according to the Times even refused to check off a box on his tax form to donate to a veterans' memorial fund."

(Their NBC story then summarizes the other events of Trump's epic fail week, with stuff that happened so much and so fast that you may already have forgotten it.)

Then as the Times story was burning up the Internet, Trump went on stage (considerably late) and fell farther down the rant rat hole.  He implied Hillary was unfaithful, mocked her by acting out her stumble when she was ill leaving the 9/11 memorial event, said she was probably crazy.  At this point, saying Donald is unhinged implies that there ever was a hinge, which may be a false assumption.

This particular rant was in Michigan, though not in the city of Detroit.  The reason he didn't go to Detroit may be this: a Detroit News survey shows Trump with zero support in the city.  Zero.  Nada.  Tied with Jill Stein.  He does better in the rest of Michigan but is still 7 points down to Hillary. Correction: some of these statements were made in a rally in PA.

All of this--the Times story, the rant-- will play out on the Sunday talk shows and reverberate into next week, though already some are saying that this tax revelation is likely to be the fatal blow.

Meanwhile, a poll says that 7 out of 10 voters backing a third party candidate say they could still change their minds. When asked to choose between Trump and Clinton, two-thirds did, and split evenly.  But one-third refused or suggested they might not vote at all.  What this suggests to me is that the third party candidates are going to get negligible votes as usual, and probably be a non-factor in the outcome, though if it's close in certain swing states, even a percentage or two can hurt.

As for the major party candidates, Ed Kilgore analyzes recent stories purporting to read their closing month strategies--and both are base strategies.  Trump will continue to rant to solidify his base of conspiracy theorists, stupid angry white men while hoping to pick up enough white women to squeak out a win.  Clinton deploys surrogates, plays small ball, uses intel and the ground game to get Ds to the polls, while the candidate makes her case at key moments in key places.

Finally (for the moment), Trump unveiled his latest scurrilous attacks after warning that Hillary is nasty but he is nastier.  He complains about Clinton's nasty ads about him, but as this story points out, most of the ads simply quote him, usually showing him making the statements he denies he's made.

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