The Donald Trump Show (Ryan Rescue Remix)

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump holds a rally in Fredricksburg, Virginia, 20 August 2016. (Photo by Leigh Vogel/WireImage)

Amid the astounding spectacle that really is the Donald Trump Show, there does arise the occasional substantive issue. And while the averages describe the Republican nominee’s spectacle in abysmal terms, the substantive questions that do arise just don’t seem to help. To wit, Steve Benen reflects on the fine print:

House Speaker Paul Ryan talks to reporters following the weekly House GOP Conference meeting at the U.S. Capitol, 16 December 2016, in Washington. D.C. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)To the Trump campaign’s credit, the commercial includes footnotes of sorts for many of its core claims. For example, at the 15-second mark, when the narrator says “working families get tax relief” in Trump’s America, there’s small text at the bottom that reads, “A Pro-Growth Tax Code For All Americans, GOP: A Better Way, 6/24/16.”

Why does that matter? Because “A Pro-Growth Tax Code For All Americans, GOP: A Better Way, 6/24/16” is House Speaker Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) tax plan, not Donald Trump’s. They’re actually pretty different, and include their own marginal rates, which makes it odd for Trump to cite the House GOP’s plan as if it were his own.

A couple of seconds later, the same ad includes fine print that reads, “‘Details and analysis of the 2016 House Republican Tax Reform Plan,’ Tax Foundation, 7/15/16.” And while I’d take issue with the center-right Tax Foundation’s analysis of Ryan’s plan, the point is, again, that Trump has a different plan.

At the 19-second mark, note that the fine print reads, “‘Details and analysis of Donald Trump’s Tax Plan, Tax Foundation, 9/29/15.” And while that’s certainly closer to being applicable, what the ad doesn’t mention is that Trump has since abandoned that tax plan, unveiling a new blueprint three weeks ago.

This is a question reasonably overlooked, all things considered: As much as we discuss Donald Trump’s temperament, ought we be asking ourselves if maybe the problem is that the Republican nominee just isn’t smart enough to run for president? Say what we will about his egotism, but it does not seem so extraordinary to suggest that not wrecking the brand ought to be one of the basic, ought not need explaining, ought to be well within any such applicant’s grasp faculties of any good, smart businessman.

An historical psychoanalysis explaining just how an idiot bully with a lot of money can become emblematic of capitalistic success and, therefore, American virtue will be a generational task, though in truth it really does seem kind of an obvious question. After how many generations of tough-guy virtue and the merits of action before thought, or craven pandering to immediacy―those who complained, decades ago in my youth, of rising selfish impatience, were only setting the example, which is generally how it goes, it seems―is there any reason we should be surprised or confused by the proposition that someone with this notorious business history could survive on a brains and brawn scheme that only used its brain to decide where and how to apply the brawn. That is to say, it’s one way to push your way to the front, or bully your way to the top, but once there one is expected to lead, and if it turns out your best leadership skill is being a complete asshole to anyone you perceive getting in your way, it’s not just a matter of temperament. Donald Trump isn’t simply too stupid to be president, he’s quite clearly not smart enough to properly run for president.

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Image notes: Top ― Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump holds a rally in Fredricksburg, Virginia, 20 August 2016. (Photo by Leigh Vogel/WireImage). Right ― House Speaker Paul Ryan talks to reporters following the weekly House GOP Conference meeting at the U.S. Capitol, 16 December 2016, in Washington. D.C. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Benen, Steve. “In Trump’s new ad, keep an eye on the fine print”. msnbc. 29 August 2016.

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