“As long as you can still grab a breath, you fight. You breathe… keep breathing.” – Hugh Glass, “The Revenant”
At the second presidential debate, Sunday, Trump sure did a lot of breathing… [fact check, Jim] … okay, actually it was sniffing.
Rather than show voters – and people watching all over the world – the best we can be through the democratic process, Republican Nominee Donald Trump chose to show the worst. But you have to remember, this is the showman, the reality TV star who loves drama and before last Sunday’s debate began, he brought his “A” game.
In a crude video posted on Facebook Live before the debate, Trump interviews four women, three of whom accused President Bill Clinton of sexual misconduct: Paula Jones, Kathleen Willey, and Juanita Broderick. The fourth, Kathy Shelton, Trump said, “…is a wonderful woman, at 12 years old, was raped at 12. [Hillary Clinton’s] client she represented got him off, and she’s seen laughing on two separate occasions, laughing at the girl who was raped.”
While I thought Trump would try a stunt like this at the first debate, what surprised me most was – shortly after the Access Hollywood video was released demonstrating Trump’s own sexual aggression – that these women would allow themselves to be used, again!
Another surprise came when Trump all but admits that he has (legally) avoided paying federal income tax for perhaps as many as 18 years.
“I have a write-off. A lot of it is depreciation, which is a wonderful charge,” Trump said at the debate. “I love depreciation.”
Trump went on to make clear that many of Secretary Clinton’s “…friends took bigger deductions. Warren Buffett took a massive deduction, Trump added.”
Apparently, Buffett was watching the debate or heard Trump’s remark and released this midnight statement:
“Answering a question last night about his $916 million income tax loss carry-forward in 1995, Donald Trump stated that ‘Warren Buffett took a massive deduction.’ Mr. Trump says he knows more about taxes than any other human. He has not seen my income tax returns. But I am happy to give him the facts.
“My 2015 return shows adjusted gross income of $11,563,931. My deductions totaled $5,477,694, of which allowable charitable contributions were $3,469,179. All but $36,037 of the remainder was for state income taxes.
“The total charitable contributions I made during the year were $2,858,057,970, of which more than $2.85 billion were not taken as deductions and never will be. Tax law properly limits charitable deductions.
“My federal income tax for the year was $1,845,557. Returns for previous years are of a similar nature in respect to contributions, deductions and tax rates.
“I have paid federal income tax every year since 1944, when I was 13. (Though, being a slow starter, I owed only $7 in tax that year.) I have copies of all 72 of my returns and none uses a carry-forward.
“Finally, I have been audited by the IRS multiple times and am currently being audited. I have no problem in releasing my tax information while under audit. Neither would Mr. Trump – at least he would have no legal problem.”
Buffett includes his phone number if anyone wants to contact him with questions.
While both Clinton and Trump traded a number of statements that were later fact checked, one which Trump refuses to surrender is his insistence that Clinton ally, Sidney Blumenthal, was responsible for genesis of the “birther” movement regarding President Obama’s place of birth, (still born in the U.S.A.).
Once again, PolitiFact points out that “There’s still no smoking gun tying birtherism to the Clinton campaign.”
Nonetheless, Trump did score some points.
Trump said, “Last year, we had almost $800 billion trade deficit. In other words, trading with other countries. We had an $800 billion deficit.”
PolitiFact rated this, True. “In 2015, the goods trade deficit was $763 billion.”
Trump said, “Hillary was going to bring back jobs to upstate New York and she failed.”
“In her 2000 Senate campaign,” PolitiFact writes, “Clinton promised to bring 200,000 jobs to upstate New York. The region did not add those jobs by the end of her tenure. We rated Trump’s claim Mostly True.
Trump said, “You [Hillary Clinton] get a subpoena, and after getting the subpoena you delete 33,000 emails.”
PolitiFact: “Clinton’s staff received a subpoena for Benghazi-related emails March 3. An employee managing her server deleted 33,000 of Clinton’s emails three weeks later. The FBI found no evidence that the emails were deleted deliberately to avoid the subpoena or other requests.
“Clinton’s team requested for the emails to be deleted months before the subpoena came. They also argued that all the emails that would be relevant to the subpoena had already been turned over to the State Department.
“Trump’s claim rates Half True.”
However, the level of Donald Trump’s dark and revengeful universe became clear when he made the most frightening, and stunningly ignorant, statement of the night:
“If I win, I am going to instruct my attorney general to get a special prosecutor to look into your situation because there has never been so many lies, so much deception.”
“It’s just awfully good,” Clinton responded, “that someone with the temperament of Donald Trump is not in charge of the law in our country.”
“Because you’d be in jail,” Trump added.
This brought strong reactions from both Republicans and Democrats.
As reported in The New York Times (Oct. 11), “ ‘It’s a chilling thought,’ said Michael Chertoff, a former federal appeals court judge who also served as the secretary of Homeland Security and head of the Justice Department’s criminal division in the George W. Bush administration. …’It smacks of what we read about tin-pot dictators in other parts of the world, where when they win an election their first move is to imprison opponents.’ …
“ ‘This is a manifestation of the same tendency to be willing to use the machinery of the state to go after one’s political enemies, which is very dangerous,’ said David B. Rivkin, Jr., a White House and Justice Department lawyer in the administration of the first President George Bush…’
“Under federal regulations,” The Times continues, “special prosecutors are appointed in sensitive cases where senior officials may have a conflict of interest. The rules empower the attorney general, not the president, to make the appointment, but Mr. Trump is unlikely to name an attorney general who disagrees with him.”
The Times reminds us of Richard Nixon’s executive overreach during the aptly named, Saturday Night Massacre in 1973 when Nixon fired the top two officials in the Justice Department when they refused to fire Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox.
“Michael B. Mukasey,” The Times added, “a former federal judge and attorney general in the George W. Bush administration… likened Mr. Trump’s threat to what happens in a ‘banana republic.’ ‘This is not the way we conduct politics here.’ ”
Tuesday, House Speaker Paul Ryan announced he would not take part in either defending or campaigning for Trump. While the list of Republicans rescinding their endorsement of Trump continues to grow, Trump now focuses his war of tweets against his own Party:
“It is so nice that the shackles have been taken off me and I can now fight for America the way I want to.”
“Disloyal R’s are far more difficult than Crooked Hillary. They come at you from all sides. They don’t know how to win – I will teach them!”
When it comes to vengeance, not even Leo DiCaprio can hold a candle to the nasty, defiant and uncaring, (about anybody but himself), Donald Trump.
However, as Hugh Glass affirms at the end of The Revenant:
“Revenge is in God’s hands. Not mine.”