Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Maddow and Trump Tax Returns

And then suddenly, nothing happened.
I find Rachel Maddow's voice to be about as engaging as a dentist's drill so I didn't watch her MSNBC show last night which she breathlessly and shamelessly hyped as having the low down scoop on Trump's tax returns. So this morning when I awoke, I wondered if I had missed anything of import. No. No I didn't. Maddow didn't have Trump's current tax returns. She didn't have any evidence of nefarious tax evasion by Trump or investigation of Trump by the IRS or other ominous government agencies with a reputation for not playing around. She didn't have evidence of secret ties to Russian oligarchs or Trump owned dachas on the Black Sea. No, what Ms. Maddow had was two pages from Trump's 2005 federal income tax return that showed that Trump paid $38 million in taxes on an income of about $150 million. Please try to hide your shock. This juice wasn't worth the squeeze. 

Ultimately, the reporting that Ms. Maddow eventually aired on Tuesday night’s show — two pages from a single, decade-old federal tax return — was less groundbreaking than the mere fact that a portion of the president’s records had surfaced at all. The journalist who obtained the records, David Cay Johnston, a former tax reporter for The New York Times, said that the documents arrived “over the transom” in his mailbox. Mr. Johnston even speculated on-air that Mr. Trump had sent the documents himself.

I do believe that there is something in Trump's more recent tax returns that he'd just as soon not share with the public. But there's a few things in my tax returns or browser cache or email chain that I'd rather not broadcast to the whole world either. I know that some of my friends on what is broadly considered the left are convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that Trump is a fraud who is bought and paid for by Vladimir Putin. They can not conceive of any other way that someone who is so obviously temperamentally and intellectually unsuited to become President actually became President. Fair enough. All the same though when your so-called big scoop is that twelve years ago a man who earned millions of income in that year paid millions in taxes that year, perhaps you need to readjust your scope of investigation. I don't think that the secret to beating Trump will be found in his tax returns, recent or otherwise. 

The Democratic Party and its supporters in the media need to understand and appreciate why Democrats have had their heads bashed in, figuratively speaking, in elections across the country over close to the past decade or so. That's the true investigative reporting which needs to be done. Absent some Act of God or sudden attack of impeachment fever among Republicans, Trump is President and will remain so until at least 2021. If Democrats don't like that they should refocus on building their party from the ground up and fielding a better candidate in the 2020 election. I think that this obsession with trying to prove that Trump is illegitimate, while understandable, will not necessarily help Democrats avoid another mollywhopping. 

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