Another Worst Week Ever - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Another Worst Week Ever

The past week has seen such a sustained assault on Donald Trump’s presidential ambitions by almost the entire “mainstream media” and by Donald Trump himself that the most remarkable takeaway is how utterly unpalatable Hillary Clinton must be to the majority of Americans for Mr. Trump still to be within spitting distance for an election just over a month away.

But there’s spitting distance, and then there’s spitting distance. Over the past week, Mr. Trump’s betting odds have plunged, in large part due to his own behavior both during and after the first presidential debate, from over 30 percent to about 20 percent. When Mr. Trump is focused and on message, 30 percent is too low. When he is as he’s been for the past week, 20 percent is too high.

Over the weekend, Mr. Trump suggested that Hillary Clinton may not be “loyal to Bill.” I assume he has no evidence for the assertion, but that’s not the point. The questions about Mr. Trump in the minds of undecided voters relate to his psychological fitness to be president. The way a non-politician proves his fitness is to focus on issues that the American people care about and issues that the American people think a president should care about. Hillary Clinton’s marriage isn’t one of those things, especially coming from a man who famously cheated on his first wife.

This follows days of ridiculous tweeting about a former Miss Universe. Again, the issue isn’t what Trump said or did 20 years ago, and it isn’t about whether Mrs. Trump did enough homework on Alicia Machado’s history. The issue is that Mr. Trump spent more than 10 percent of the remaining days of his presidential campaign taking Mrs. Clinton’s bait and, to put it gently, raising doubts about his claim that his temperament is one of his most important assets. Saturday Night Live encapsulated it perfectly showing Hillary Clinton (Kate McKinnon) reeling in Donald Trump (Alec Baldwin) who seems to bite on any shiny object cast his way.

For many Americans, however, “let Trump be Trump” is the mantra of the season. Indeed, when it comes to those undecided voters who remain the focus of both the Trump and Clinton campaigns, the fact that they are undecided even after learning so much about Donald Trump’s personality means that they are looking desperately for other information to determine how they’ll vote.

Over the past few days the media has been working hard to give them that information in the most anti-Trump ways imaginable beginning with Saturday’s front page New York Times story in which the newspaper, perhaps in violation of federal law, published excerpts from Donald Trump’s 1995 tax return from three pages (first page of his federal return and first page of two state returns) they claim were recently mailed to them.

The return shows a $916 million loss resulting in a tax-loss carry-forward which the reporters helpfully speculate “would have been large enough to wipe out more than $50 million a year in taxable income over 18 years.”

This in turn has led some Democrats such as Colorado’s Congresswoman Diana DeGette (D-Denver) to claim on Fox News that Trump in fact didn’t pay taxes for 18 years.

In case Americans don’t care about or can’t relate to the tax complexities of a billionaire real estate developer, the Times writers offered a more relatable hypothetical: “The $916 million loss certainly could have eliminated any federal income taxes Mr. Trump otherwise would have owed on the $50,000 to $100,000 he was paid for each episode of ‘The Apprentice,’ or the roughly $45 million he was paid between 1995 and 2009 when he was chairman or chief executive of the publicly traded company he created to assume ownership of his troubled Atlantic City casinos.”

And in case you still didn’t hate Trump for avoiding taxes while you were paying yours, these partisan journalists added, “Ordinary investors in the new company, meanwhile, saw the value of their shares plunge to 17 cents from $35.50, while scores of contractors went unpaid for work on Mr. Trump’s casinos and casino bondholders received pennies on the dollar.”

Apparently N.Y. Times reporters are angling for jobs as Clinton speechwriters.

A few weeks ago, Dean Baquet, the Times’ executive editor, said he would be willing to risk jail to publish Donald Trump’s tax returns. Let’s hope he gets to walk the talk. Perp walk, that is.

Trump responded, by tweet of course, “I know our complex tax laws better than anyone who has ever run for president and am the only one who can fix them. #failing@nytimes.” It’s not much of a response but it’s one of the few good ones Trump has given the authenticity of the tax return being verified by Trump’s former accountant. Even better would be “Look how I turned around my business after those difficult years. I’ll do the same for the country after the massive losses of the Obama years that Hillary Clinton would just continue.”

In a Sunday interview on CNN, Susanne Craig, the Times reporter who received the information, offered a “no comment” when asked if she had more of Trump’s tax records as well as when asked if she knew the source of the documents. I suppose that’s what you say when your newspaper may have committed a federal crime. More importantly for today, Craig said that “whether or not (Trump) has paid taxes… is an incredibly important issue.”

But the Times reporter and the liberal bobbleheads across the media and Donald Trump are all missing the point: Trump’s primary risk is not how much tax he’s paid in recent years, though if it were known that he paid zero federal income tax for two decades it would certainly hurt him with some voters.

The bigger risk is that the characterization of Trump as “smart” (to use his word) or “a genius” (to use his surrogates’ talking points) is incongruous with how most Americans react to someone losing nearly a billion dollars in a single year.

If I were the Clinton campaign, I’d ask, “Just how smart does someone have to be to lose $916 million in a single year? Is this the kind of ‘genius’ you want managing the federal government? I mean, imagine how smart he’d feel if he lost $1 trillion. He’d stick other people with that loss, too.” You know it’s coming, Donald. Just get ready. Perhaps with my suggestion above.

If you’re an undecided voter, the media can try to influence your vote by eroding your remaining positive opinion of Donald Trump through disclosing his business travails. They can also try to make you feel uncomfortable associating with Trump supporters which they do with occasional articles about the Trump faithful being uneducated knuckle-dragging white trash.

But that description is a compliment compared to Saturday’s offering from the Washington Post entitled “Finally. Someone who thinks like me.” Even with my decades-long cynicism regarding the bias in print media newsrooms, this one is a shocker: the Trump supporter profiled in the article is a hyper-medicated chain-smoking woman, a former railroad worker (fired for running a train through a red signal) living in a town that’s 90-percent white, who believes not only that Barack Obama is a Muslim but also “like so many she had gotten to know online through social media… that he was likely gay, that Michelle Obama could be a man, and that the Obama children were possibly kidnapped from a family now searching for them.”

I kid you not.

Do you want to cast a vote for the same person she would vote for? The Post is betting you don’t.

And if they can’t poison Trump based on his business record or his supporters, the media will make themselves the news in their crusade to elect Hillary Clinton.

On Friday, for the first time in its 34-year history, USA Today urged its readers not to vote for Donald Trump, calling him “unfit for the presidency.” For what it’s worth, they did not ask the weary travelers perusing the paper over cups of cheap coffee and stale danishes at motels across the country to vote for Hillary Clinton.

A few weeks earlier, the Dallas Morning News endorsed Hillary Clinton, their first recommendation of a Democrat “since before World War II.” More recently it was the Cincinnati Enquirer (first Democrat endorsement “for almost a century”), the San Diego Union Tribune (first Democrat in the 148-years the paper has been in business), and the Arizona Republic (first Democrat since the paper “began publication in 1890”).

To be fair, other than with the liberal USA Today, these were not easy decisions for relatively conservative editorial boards, especially knowing that endorsing a Democrat would cost them readership, as it has. Nevertheless, their actions complete the anti-Trump media blitz of the past week. On television and in print, “journalists” are doing everything they can to stop Donald Trump.

After Mr. Trump’s self-inflicted wounds following the Democratic National Convention — with much salt rubbed in by opponents, pundits, and reporters — one would be forgiven for having exhaled a deep breath when he escaped with a semblance of an intact campaign. After all, you might have reasonably thought, there’s no way he could have a worse stretch than that one.

And yet, he just did, and at a much worse time as early voting begins across the country. It started with too-familiar self-inflicted wounds: Picking a fight with people he should ignore, late-night tweets demonstrating a lack of discipline if not outright narcissism, and in every way undoing the great progress he had made through most of September in getting millions of Americans to consider whether he may indeed be made of presidential timber.

The media was gleeful with all the material Trump was giving them and all the time they could help him waste, but as we get closer to the election it’s not enough for them. What Trump now faces is a media onslaught that makes of all Trump’s previous observations of media bias look like wild understatements. Purloined tax returns, guilt-by-association of the worst possible type, and editorials saying “this guy is so bad that we’re doing something we’ve never done before.” It has to have an impact, and it is having one.

And yet, even though Donald Trump can’t control the media, if he can control himself he still stands a chance, albeit a diminishing one, of preventing the tremendous harm that will come from four more years of Progressive regulation, taxation, judicial appointments, and assault on the rule of law that would be the hallmarks of a Hillary Clinton presidency.

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