It’s the headline of the day – the incomplete tax return leaked to the NY Times from an anonymous source at Trump Tower.
We go after it with glee, thinking: “We got him now!”
Meanwhile that anonymous leaker way up in the gold-encrusted tower is smiling. “They took the bait.”
Because nothing happens by accident in the Trump Campaign (with the obvious exception of Donald’s gaffes, and even then, there’s some diabolical intent involved).
Because now, surrogates like Rudy Gulliani can harp to Jake Tapper about its legality, and crow about the brilliance of such a manuever. “The man’s a genius!,” declares Rudy, several times, and Mr. Mayor continues by telling us that “very large businesses very often” do these things.
Because the candidate and his surrogates can now say that indeed, these tax things are extremely complicated, well above the understanding of the common (read: “poorly educated”) American.
Because the campaign can now slam an “I Told You So” down the throat of any inquiring reporter.
Because after all, the media are idiots and liars and you can’t believe a word they say, and least of all any interpretation they may make of these extremely complex tax forms.
Because only one person grasps the convoluted tax code – he knows better than anyone on the face of the earth – better than the accountants, the banks of tax attorneys, members of Congress, other millionaires and billionaires – and only he is capable of fixing these regulations.
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
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 2, 2016
Because Clinton isn’t the only campaign being hacked – and a leak is as good as a hack. No, Trump is suffering too and maybe it’s the Russians.
Because Donald can gloat and tweet and roar about the inequity of it all – he a law-abiding businessman is being roasted for following the law!
Because there may be one or two up-and-coming entrepreneurs or already Fat Cat millionaires who are aligning themselves with Trump – because here’s a guy who can scam the system and do it legally – and that’s got to be good for them. They want more.
Because this leak breaks the constant demand for his full returns and replaces it with a sensationalized story – and when Election Day rolls around, which story about tax returns will we recall – the headline splashing, prime time hoopla or the chronic demand that bore no fruit?
Because this misguided spotlight on legality subsumes the overriding question of ethics.
But mostly because this is the essence of the Trump strategy – deflect, divert, claim space with the outlandish and in two days, move on to something new.
The strategy works. It continues to work because we take the bait.