Al GoreAlbert (Al) Arnold GoreTrump's election fraud claims pose risks for GOP in midterms Don't 'misunderestimate' George W. Bush Why the pro-choice movement must go on the offensive MORE's sighing looks quaint now. After an hour-and-a-half of GOP nominee Donald TrumpDonald TrumpUkraine's president compares UN to 'a retired superhero' Collins to endorse LePage in Maine governor comeback bid Heller won't say if Biden won election MORE not only sighing, but constantly grimacing, interrupting and generally disregarding any sort of rules of civil order or any reasonable standards of dignity, we've now reached a new low in presidential debates.
Pretend, as the Trump campaign will; try to fix the completely unreliable online "polls" as their supporters did (and which are not, in any legitimate way, actual polls); complain about the mic or the moderator; create whatever sort of false narrative the'd like — the truth is that anyone with even a modicum of objectivity knows that Trump got crushed Monday night.
In a debate wherein the bar for him was set artificially and ridiculously low — when all he needed to do was appear somewhat informed and somewhat in control of his temper — he still could not manage, coming across as the rude, uninformed, empty-of-ideas bully that he is, forcing Trump supporters to face the fact that their supposedly tough leader got beaten up and beaten up badly.
Had Democratic nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonHeller won't say if Biden won election Whitmer trailing GOP challenger by 6 points in Michigan governor race: poll GOP political operatives indicted over illegal campaign contribution from Russian national in 2016 MORE performed like Trump, we'd be declaring her candidacy over. In fact, as Clare Malone of 538 pointed out immediately after the debate, many of Trump's statements were no less ignorant than those of former vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin in 2008, yet she was criticized, condemned and mocked as brainless, while Trump somehow gets a pass.
There's much to take apart from Trump's performance Monday night, and indeed a "performance" it was. There were his 51 interruptions; his misogynistic comments (such as his condescension in using the term "secretary" — "Now, in all fairness to Secretary Clinton — yes, is that OK? Good. I want you to be very happy. It's very important to me" — his statement that Rosie O'Donnell "deserves it," his dismissal of former Miss Universe winner Alicia Machado); his nonsensical answer about his leadership of the "birther" movement; and his inability to enunciate even a single policy position.
But perhaps Trump's most revealing comments were about his taxes. As talk-show host Seth Meyers pointed out in one of his "A Closer Look" segments, when Clinton suggested that one of the reasons Trump isn't releasing his tax returns is because he may in fact pay no federal income taxes, Trump, unable to control himself once again, interjected "It would be squandered, too, believe me." That certainly seems to be an admission that he does in fact pay no federal taxes. If he did, he wouldn't have used the hypothetical "they would be," but instead would've said "they are."
Perhaps even more egregious, though, was Trump's statement that not paying taxes somehow makes him smart.
No, Trump, you're not smart; you’re just a rich, privileged white guy who's never had to actually take responsibility for all the wrong that you’ve done.
The sad thing, though, is that this should be filling the media's airwaves and somehow, it's not. Can you imagine if Clinton, after refusing to release her tax returns, had accidentally let it slip out that she pays no federal income taxes? Moreover, how about if she called herself "smart" for doing so? Again, it would be check and mate, candidacy over.
At this point, it seems clear that Trump pays no federal income taxes: Not only can we see that he paid nothing for the years that are available to us, but he essentially admitted to the fact during a live debate and stated that paying no taxes somehow makes him smarter than the rest of us.
Any media, if they're being fair and honest, should now state that Trump seemed to indicate that he pays no federal income taxes. After all, Trump not only appeared to admit this, but also seemed fairly proud of it. For all the Trump campaign's talk about how condescending Clinton is, can there be anything more condescending than that?
I guess the rest of us are just stupid because we have to pay taxes. If only my daddy had left me a real estate empire, a host of political and financial connections, and no morals whatsoever — then I, too, could be "smart" like Donald Trump.
Rosenfeld is an educator and historian who has done work for Scribner, Macmillan and Newsweek.
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