Why I Actually Do Care About Trump’s Tax Returns


Burt Likko

Pseudonymous Portlander. Homebrewer. Atheist. Recovering Republican. Recovering Catholic. Recovering divorcé. Editor-in-Chief Emeritus of Ordinary Times. Relapsed Lawyer, admitted to practice law (under his real name) in California and Oregon. On Twitter, to his frequent regret, at @burtlikko. House Likko's Words: Scite Verum. Colite Iusticia. Vivere Con Gaudium.

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66 Responses

  1. Avatar Philip H says:

    Part of this is Ego – The president doesn’t want to “loose” and giving someone something they asked for (regardless of content) is “loosing.” Especially when you have a preening need to be the tough guy, which he clearly does.

    I agree there’s no real likelihood we’ll see anything new in them that we don’t have other evidence of, and I hold out no hope they will sway anyone away from supporting him. But as a scientist, patterns matter, and this fits a pattern of cover-up, deception, and misdirection.Report

  2. Avatar Jaybird says:

    He’s not a billionaire. He hasn’t been for a while. If this gets confirmed, this will embarrass him.

    This is what tax records have been used to do to politicians for as long as I can remember (going back to 1992, maybe?)

    You point out how little these rich bastards donate to charity. Here’s a blast from the past:

    WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, April 15) — In a 34-page 1997 federal tax return, Vice President Al Gore and wife Tipper reported giving $353 to charity, an amount much lower than donations the family has made in previous tax cycles.

    That figure is less than one-tenth the typical contribution amount for someone with the Gores’ adjusted gross income of $197,729. That fact has caused some bewilderment in philanthropic circles because of the vice president’s “good guy” image as an advocate for public service and social causes, the Los Angeles Times reported Wednesday.

    “I would assume that he would want to do something to demonstrate that he was being socially responsible through his giving … ” Stacy Palmer, managing editor of the Chronicle of Philanthropy, told the Times.

    Republicans used this against Gore for *YEARS*. I remember it coming up in the buildup to the 2000 election.

    If you could damage Trump with this information, why in the hell wouldn’t you?Report

    • Avatar pillsy says:

      I think that embarrassment is part of the deal at this point, and it’s a low salience issue for most voters.

      I guess a few of the Extremely Online think it’s a big deal that Bernie is a millionaire now, but I would be shocked if it shifts a single primary vote.[1]

      Anyway Trump wanted to be President without adhering to any of the norms associated with being President, this was obvious from the jump, and it’s worked out pretty much exactly as well as you’d expect.

      [1] I was a little dismayed Bernie missed the classic retort: “Nothing’s too good for the working class!”Report

  3. Avatar Michael Cain says:

    While I would like to see Trump share his tax returns for signaling reasons, I also believe that his personal tax returns are unlikely to bear any relationship to the assets and income that he actually controls. The Trump Organization consists of >500 LLCs, many of which own ill-defined pieces of each other. A meaningful set of tax returns would fill multiple fat binders and include, among other things, Form 1065 for all the LLCs with multiple members and any tax filings from the LLCs in which Trump is the sole proprietor (single-member LLCs are only required to file tax papers under certain conditions). Parsing it all out is a job for a forensic accountant; even then, the accountant may require access to the LLC’s books in order to suss out where claimed income and expenses actually went.

    Keep in mind that in the one partial NY state return we have seen, he claimed most of a billion dollars in long-term capital losses, enough to shelter $50M in realized capital gains for each of the 20 years following.Report

  4. Avatar George Turner says:

    “Russian collusion! Trump Russia! He’s Putin’s puppet!” for two years, then the Mueller report hits, so now it’s “Oh look over there! It’s a spoon! Investigate it!”

    It’s just strait up harassment to try and cripple the administration and cover up actual crimes committed by the previous administration, as Barr indicated. Most of the public already agrees that the Russian investigation was unjustified, “a witch hunt”, and these latest calls are just confirmation of that, as the same raving committee chairs that told us for two years that they had secret information that would put Trump in prison for being a Russian spy start trying out plan B to overturn election results. It is a flagrant abuse of power, and one that needs to stop before it leads us further down a dark dark path.

    The IRS has always audited his tax returns. If there was criminal malfeasance in them, the government would have put him in jail many years ago. Rachel Maddow already illegally released his 2005 tax return (for which she should have been sent to prison), and it was as boring as watching paint dry, since Trump has good accountants.Report

    • Avatar dragonfrog says:

      Sure Jan.Report

    • So you’re assuming his return will be embarrassing? Me too.Report

    • Avatar DavidTC says:

      I agree. Forget Russia, the Democrats would be much better off do something about Trump based on the fact the Muller report exposed him as a cannibalistic serial killer with half a dozen victims already. (It’s on pages 74-78 of the report, to keep you from having to read it all.)

      ..what’s that? You don’t believe the report says what I claim it say? Well, I don’t believe it says what _you_ are claiming it says.Report

  5. Avatar Saul Degraw says:

    This is obviously just another brazen lie from an authoritarian administration full of them. Are we still surprised by this? They have nothing but shamelessness and will say and do anything. A worthier topic would be that Trump wanted to send undocumented immigrants to sanctuary cities for defying his will. Not that this would work the way he thinks it would but it does show his commitment to cartoonish and brutal authoritarianism.Report

  6. Avatar Aaron David says:

    “But I don’t expect to actually learn any new big-picture news in those returns that will significantly alter my opinion of Trump.”

    Racheal Maddow pulled a Giraldo Rivera showing Trumps 2005 tax return. And as said, found bupkis. What would be different now? This smacks as nothing so much as President Obama and his birth certificate. And I think George is right in that the left needs a new narrative post-Russiagate. Oh, I am sure that someone, somewhere could leak a copy, but to what end? It would further cement in the rights eyes that the Left is perfectly happy burning down the house when they aren’t in it. That they cannot play fair. So why should they?

    Hating a president is one of the United States most lasting and important traditions. And in my eyes healthiest. But going along with that is the ability to judge others by their hate. As the Right was judged by their hate of Obama, often being seen as racists, now the Left is being judged by their hate.

    This is a time when the country is massively divided. The posturing demand for tax returns will only further that damage.Report

    • Avatar Burt Likko says:

      This argument reminds me of a similar one I recall a few years ago about a birth certificate, then for something called a “long-form birth certificate” and whining that a “certificate of live birth” was somehow not satisfactory.

      The difference being, no President before had ever confronted the expectation that he provide documentary evidence that he had been born on American soil. Presidents and Presidential candidates since before 1960 have been confronted with the expectation that they provide documentary evidence of their honesty in personal financial dealings, and since that expectation became a norm more than two generations ago, only Trump has refused to conform to it.

      I agree that we are a bitterly divided nation. If one side bears more blame than the other for as that, I submit that those who would have adherence to settled traditions and norms bear less blame than those who defy those traditions and norms. (Noting the irony as to which side of the “adhere to traditions and norms” issue “conservatives” are lining up behind.)

      As for the Mueller report, I’m fascinated as to how commenters here know what’s in it so as to correctly characterize its contents, given that the Attorney General has not yet released the report and there are controversies aswirl even as we speak regarding the completeness, objectivity, and accuracy of the Attorney General’s three-page summary. Though even if it were true that Mueller’s investigation were somehow a purely political obstruction measure, this too would be within what has become a historic tradition of investigation of Presidential activity used for the purpose of sapping a President’s political capital, going back at least to Andrew Johnson’s impeachment and including other such prominent investigations as Whitewater and Benghazi.Report

      • Avatar pillsy says:

        Though even if it were true that Mueller’s investigation were somehow a purely political obstruction measure, this too would be within what has become a historic tradition of investigation of Presidential activity used for the purpose of sapping a President’s political capital, going back at least to Andrew Johnson’s impeachment and including other such prominent investigations as Whitewater and Benghazi.

        Yup. Andrew Johnson was an absolute garbage President, but his impeachment was some penny ante bullshit.Report

      • Avatar Aaron David says:

        In the constitution, as I am sure you know, there are only three requirements; 35 years old, resident for 14 years and be a natural born US citizen. Nothing about taxes. If they do or don’t want to display the returns for a given period, that is up to them. Anything else is political. Can they, like Truman, weaponize it? Or are they afraid of something? Or do they think it is no one’s business?

        Since there is nothing in the way of legal requirements, the demand for it strikes me as simply another way to say “F—- You” to the president. Which, there is nothing wrong with that in principle, and as I said, hating the holder of that position is a time-honored tradition (and definitely one we won’t see go away) But in this case I think it is doing real damage, both to the country and to the Democratic Party.

        Re: Meuller. I believe that he declined to review the letter to Congress that Barr sent, so I will take that as implicit trust. Nor has he raised any objection that I know of. Barr said that there is nothing, so I will take that as good. IF, if something comes up from the release than we shall look at it then. I know that some in the Mueller group feel something else should come up, and I will reevaluate if there is something. But as the saying goes, put up or shut up.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird says:

          I’m surprised that there *STILL* haven’t been leaks.Report

          • Avatar InMD says:

            At this point my guess is it will be little snippets here and there that allow the media to continue the frenzy. The same speculation and counter-speculation will keep swirling around the toilet of our weakling journalistic class that just can’t accept their own frailty much less do anything about it.

            The stone serious face of Mika Brzezinski will continue to stare down from the TV at my gym oblivious to how dumb she sounds.Report

        • Avatar pillsy says:

          But in this case I think it is doing real damage, both to the country and to the Democratic Party.

          Of course you do. You’ve made it blindingly obvious that you think the only things the Democrats should do is ask, “How high?” when Trump says, “Jump!”Report

          • Avatar Aaron David says:


            They need to oppose him on procedural grounds and with the law. They hold the house, and that is where budgets are supposed to start. Use the power of the purse and the pulpit. Not this made-up, rinky-dink bullshit. They need to get past the fact that they lost. an. election. Which happens. To both sides.Report

            • Avatar pillsy says:

              They are using the law.

              The law says they have the Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee (n this case Rep. Neal) can request someone’s taxes (in this case Trump’s) and then review them confidentially.

              So they are doing exactly what you said they should.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

                Further, Congress has a Constitutional duty to oversee the Executive branch.

                And if they have reason to think there is fraud they have every right to demand not just his tax returns, but entire financial documents, as Rep. Elijah Cummings is doing right now.Report

              • Avatar George Turner says:

                They don’t have reason to suspect fraud, they’re just on a fishing expedition. As evidence, they have no idea of any particular crime that may have occurred.

                Using the legal system simply to harass people is both illegal and is grounds for disbarment.

                The law doesn’t give Congress the power to go after someone’s tax returns, it only gives them the oversight power to make sure the IRS is properly carrying out its functions.

                They could ask for returns from a random sample of a selective group, such as oil companies or people with a specific type of overseas tax haven, to make the IRS is on the ball, but they didn’t do that.

                Further, even if they got the tax returns, they couldn’t reveal what was in them without Trump’s approval or AG Barr could send them to prison for a couple of years.Report

              • Avatar pillsy says:


                They don’t have reason to suspect fraud, they’re just on a fishing expedition.

                Wrong again, dude.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

                Aside from Trump being convicted of running a fraudulent university, his personal attorney being convicted of fraud, his campaign chair convicted of fraud, and about a dozen current legal investigations of fraud, sure, no evidence whatsoever.

                “Hey baby, fraud isn’t my bag!”
                One signed book, “Fraud- It Is My Bag, Baby” by Donald J. Trump.Report

              • Avatar Aaron David says:

                And as long as they use methods such as that, it is legal. I have always said that politics is a full-contact sport, and if they feel that this is a net positive then that is the route they should take.

                I cannot for the life of me see any good reason (not saying lawful here) to go down this path, for the reasons that I mentioned. I think forcing them to be released in this manner, though legal, is intensely destructive.Report

              • Avatar pillsy says:

                Hate of Trump is hardly limited to the Left, though.

                As for dividing the country, maybe the GOP should have considered that before nominating such an arrant piece of shit to the nation’s highest office.Report

              • Avatar Aaron David says:

                Hmmm… It didn’t stop the left with HRC or a destructive POS such as Obama. And hate for the Hildog isn’t confined to the right either.

                Methinks the two sides just don’t really care about things like that.Report

              • Avatar pillsy says:

                Yes Obama and Trump are 100% equivalent and also why did I think that engaging you about this was anything but a complete waste of time.Report

              • It took only 8 years of a president who was a faithful husband and good father for the GOP to say “The hell with that noise!”Report

      • Avatar Dark Matter says:

        I agree that we are a bitterly divided nation. If one side bears more blame than the other for as that, I submit that those who would have adherence to settled traditions and norms bear less blame than those who defy those traditions and norms.

        If memory serves, I pointed out (maybe not here) when Romney’s taxes were so misrepresented 6(?) years ago that it was changing the norm, that future GOP Presidents and candidates would learn from that what not to do and the country would be poorer for it.

        At that time the norm became that rich people in the GOP present their taxes and the press lies and misrepresents what those documents mean and uses them as a political club to make him regret ever presenting them.

        Trump is changing the norm, and he’ll pay a price for not releasing his taxes, but he’ll pay less of a price than Romney did for releasing them.Report

      • Avatar DavidTC says:

        As for the Mueller report, I’m fascinated as to how commenters here know what’s in it so as to correctly characterize its contents, given that the Attorney General has not yet released the report

        I second this.

        It’s is utterly amazing how the Republicans are just playing everyone like fools and everyone is going along with it. Including people here who should KNOW BETTER. The amount of people here proclaiming the ‘Russian thing over’ is…amazing. Guys, we’re not the damn mainstream media, we’re smart enough to not fall for this.

        The actual report will be out soon. Even with redactions, there’s going to be a _lot_ things that we don’t know in it.

        In fact, I will say, outright, there will be two specific things in there. One, there will be instances of obstruction we don’t know. (Which everyone seems to miss Barr said was true when he said that ‘most’ possible obstruction was known by the public, which means some obstruction _isn’t_. known). I suspect we’ll get hard evidence of pardons being dangled.

        Two, there will be a hell of a lot of instances of Russian helping the Trump campaign, and the campaign knowing about this and going along with it, and the only reason it wasn’t any sort of conspiracy is because the Russians did it ‘for free’ without actually _asking_ the Trump campaign or requiring anything from them, just telling them what was happening.

        Those two things I’m sure are in there, at _minimum_. I have other things I suspect, but I would bet my entire life savings on those. Both those things coming out will be fairly harmful to the president. And that’s assuming that there aren’t other actual crimes that Barr managed to completely ignore in his ‘not summary’ by only talking about conspiracy with Russia. (Like my hypothetical ‘The Mueller report proves Trump is actually a serial killer’, which I give as an example of something Barr’s ‘summary’ didn’t exclude, as an example of how worthless that summary was.)

        Hey, there’s an idea. How about a post, in the vein of election predictions, where we make predictions about the Mueller report contents?Report

  7. Avatar Slade the Leveller says:

    As the Right was judged by their hate of Obama, often being seen as racists, now the Left is being judged by their hate.

    What kind of label can we apply to the leftists who hate Trump?Report

      • Avatar George Turner says:

        That’s what the birthers thought, too.

        It’s racist to hate him just because he’s orange.Report

        • John Boehner’s OK with me. Compared to Hastert, anyway.Report

          • Avatar pillsy says:

            Heck, I’ll even grant he was better than Paul Ryan.

            Honestly I’m still kind of gabberflasted by what an unbelievably bad Speaker Ryan was.Report

            • Avatar DavidTC says:

              Paul Ryan was always extremely overrated, in every possible way. There was literally never any indication he was good at anything at all besides looking good in workout clothes and mouthing conservative talking points 24/7. It just took putting him in any position of power to prove it.

              The GOP actually have a real problem with promoting young, earnest wunderkins that are really good at acting like experts by simply toeing the party line, that can get in front of cameras and be the young face of the party and for some idiotic reason be taken seriously by everyone…but absolutely have nothing in the way of ideas, and fail utterly when asked to come up with them.

              And to be clear, I don’t mean ‘fail’ from my point of view, as in, I don’t like their ideas. I mean they’re just bad at ideas in general. Bad at thinking for themselves outside of the ‘lower taxes less regulation’ they’d had pounded into their head.

              Surreally, the GOP has occasionally extended this ‘Are they young and earnest? Let’s have them in front representing the party?’ thing down to _actual children_ who can stand on a stage and speak conservative-y. Not realizing this actually makes the actual GOP look pretty dumb.Report

            • Avatar Burt Likko says:

              Recall that Ryan didn’t actually want to be Speaker. He was quite happy as Chairman of the Budget Committee. He got foisted into the job when Kevin McCarthy, who was the clear next-in-line choice, opened his big mouth and blurted out the truth about what the Benghazi hearings were really all about.Report

              • Avatar Michael Cain says:

                Ryan was chairing Ways and Means when he was elected Speaker, having been term-limited out of the Budget job by the House Republican caucus rules. IIRC, he had two more years chairing Ways and Means and then he would have been out of that job. He may have acted like he was reluctant to be Speaker, but he was only a couple of years from either (a) trying to move into the tough world of elected leadership or (b) accepting a significant loss of influence/importance.

                The House Republicans changed their rules in the 1990s so that they could put youngsters like Ryan in powerful positions (and in front of the national cameras). The change cuts both ways. It’s certainly been a contributing factor to a higher retirement rate for long-time House Republican members.Report

          • What the hell is wrong with Democratic messaging anyway? Can you imagine if it were the other way around and the Republicans had a serial child molester in the opposition’s congressional leadership to talk about? We’d never hear the end of it.Report

            • Avatar greginak says:

              It’s not like there isn’t a high ranking R who looked the other way for years at deeply inappropriate sexual conduct while a college wresting coach or anything. That would really be to much.Report

    • Avatar Pinky says:

      I understand what you meant by this comment, but more seriously, how about if we just don’t scramble to label opponents? I can think of a few reasons why leftists would hate Trump. I can think of a few reasons why leftists would accuse Obama-haters of being racist. And I’m well past the point of swooning when people call me or others racist.Report

      • Avatar Slade the Leveller says:

        I’m all for the traditional liberal and conservative, or D and R. Or, maybe even government and loyal opposition.

        We have a government headed by a con man, elected by people susceptible to the con, and who refuse to admit they’ve been conned even when faced with irrefutable evidence.Because, really, what more do they have?

        I’m with Burt and Jaybird, that Trump’s return being made public isn’t going to move the needle for those who refuse to see, but you would think that someone who brags about his riches at the drop of a hat would be eager to make public evidence of said wealth. The logical leap stemming from his refusal is not that hard to make.Report

        • Avatar greginak says:

          I keep people reading people noting that (everything negative that comes out about Trump) won’t affect his supporters. Even if true fror his hardcore supporters is it the most irrelevant thing in the world if are talking about investigating crime or unethical behavior. The standard for understanding what has happened or if their is corruption is not “will is swing votes of his partisans.”Report

          • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

            This is why I still bang the drum for impeachment.

            Even knowing there aren’t votes in the Senate, I think it is critical to lay down a marker of what we find unacceptable behavior and put everyone on record of where they stand.Report

            • Avatar North says:

              I disagree. Impeachment is a political tool and its consequences impact politics very directly. I think Pelosi has managed the impeachment issue perfectly. The entire outcome so far with the Mueller report underlines how prescient her position was. Pulling the trigger on impeachment just to send it to die in the Senate strikes me as a terrible political move.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

                That’s why Nancy Smash is the Speaker of the House, and I am not.

                Now stand aside, there are some sketchy looking, cancer-causing windmills that need to be slain.Report

              • Avatar North says:

                Fair enough buddy.Report

              • Avatar greginak says:

                I agree. Impeachment may be appropriate but only after the report is out and we know what it says. If they go with impeachment, even if it will fail, they need to have all the info in the public.Report

              • Avatar North says:

                On that we’re in total agreement.Report

              • Avatar pillsy says:

                The President was regarded by many of the Founders as fulfilling the role of an elected monarch, and impeachment as a lawful and civilized alternative to the more traditional ways to dealing with unacceptable behavior on the part of a monarch.

                One important aspect remains the same:

                You come at the King, you best not miss.Report

          • Avatar Slade the Leveller says:

            I’m not saying the documents shouldn’t be made public. I’m just saying we shouldn’t pin our hopes for a Trumpian downfall on them. Half the country voted for him, even knowing going in what a grifter he is. Why is going to be the eternal, unknowable thing in my life to my dying day.Report

            • Avatar pillsy says:

              I don’t believe for a second that they will cause a Trumpian downfall. I do think they will etch away at his political support on the margins.

              Etching away at his political support at the margins is good, both strategically and normatively.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Imagine the *PERFECT* tax return. Like, he actually *IS* a billionaire and he donates, oh, 7% of his income to charity.

                How many votes is he going to pick up because of that?

                My guess is “Zero”.

                Which makes releasing the documents all potential downside, no potential upside.Report

              • Avatar greginak says:

                Only if the absolute only consideration is predicting votes that can gained. That leads to some bad incentives.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                What consideration do you think Trump will be using, Greg, if not “predicting votes that can gained”?Report

              • Avatar pillsy says:

                Trump is an irredeemably evil, crooked, racist piece of trash. I expect less than nothing of him.

                However, before January 2017, I expected a bit more of the Republican officials and members of the conservative movement who had, in fact, pledged to keep him in check as part of their justification for supporting him.

                Then it turned out they were all a bunch of craven fucking liars but for some reason I’m supposed to do something other but hold them in absolute contempt.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Hold them in absolute contempt. Knock yourself out.

                Hey, make it so that you don’t enjoy meals anymore. You’re just thinking about them and it makes it so that you miss the subtle nuances of the sandwich you’re eating so you look down and you’re done and you don’t even remember eating the chips but the bag is empty.Report

              • Avatar greginak says:

                @jaybird Do you want to be like Trump, then only care about what helps you win or strokes your ego. There are however considerations of justice, fact finding, understanding possibly illegal or corrupt actions and junk like that. If the Mueller report or any of the investigation into trump never change one vote they are worth it to know what is happening, how to prevent future wrongs and deter more trumps.

                Or just use Burt’s “public interest” That really says it allReport

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                I certainly hope that the dems pursue this to the best of their ability and, if Trump doesn’t provide them…

                Wait. Am I supposed to say “I hope the dems impeach him”? Because I could see how such a statement would be an implicit attack on the dems for being wimpy and *NOT* impeaching him.Report

              • Avatar pillsy says:

                I dunno, man.

                {self-redacted a bunch of whiny shit}

                I just dunno.Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter says:

                pillsy: I expected a bit more of the Republican officials and members of the conservative movement who had, in fact, pledged to keep him in check as part of their justification for supporting him.

                First, Trump was nominated in spite of everything the GOP establishment could do, he was very much NOT the chosen heir. He got far more help from Team Blue (especially the media) early on who thought that he’d be the weakest opponent for HRC to defeat.

                2nd, what we’re seeing now is “Trump held in check”.

                There is no bottom with Trump. Seriously. Think of anything any banana republic leader has done. Trump would sleep just fine with that on his hands.

                The Southern Border isn’t closed. He isn’t ignoring judicial orders. He’s not arresting political opponents. He’s not shooting illegal immigrants… his political opponents aren’t “disappearing”.

                Even on Twitter President-Trump is FAR more in check than Candidate-Trump. He’s not issuing racist insults to judges who rule against him anymore. He’s not instructing judges how to rule. If we ignore style (and we should), fundamentally he’s working inside the system.

                He’s still a vile piece of work and trolls to get people to pay attention to him, but that’s a different problem.Report

              • Avatar DavidTC says:

                What consideration do you think Trump will be using, Greg, if not “predicting votes that can gained”?


                While I know the obvious assumption in politics is ‘What votes will this get me?’. (Or, usually, ‘What donors will this impress so I can pay to run ads to get me voters?’), are we…still operating under the assumption that’s how _Trump_ decides things?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                DavidTC, you’re right. I imagine that Trump will merely be thinking “this is my information, I don’t want to do it, so I won’t” and it doesn’t even matter what’s in there.

                That said, if Trump were capable of doing a cost/benefit/upside/downside analysis, I’m not sure that his would be significantly different from what I pulled out of my butt above.Report

              • Avatar pillsy says:

                There’s opportunity cost, of course.

                Also yes, releasing the documents might be all downside.

                Which is why the Dems are using a law to gain access to them.Report

              • Avatar Burt Likko says:

                In response to @jaybird 12 April 2019 at 11:10 pm, you make it seem like my OP is borderline Pollyanna in its appeal to the public interest and statesmanship. I daresay you’re exactly right that Trump cannot comprehend such a notion much less move himself to act in that way. And we are all so far down that road with him that we can’t even understand Truman’s actions setting the precedent other than in terms of his net political advantage.

                IOW, we have abandoned the notion that our leaders will do the right thing because it’s the right thing to do. The right thing needs to be adequately incentivized. O tempora, o mores etc. etc. etc.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                I can totally understand Truman’s actions and why he did it. He was an honorable man from another era.

                I doubt he’d make it past the primary today. I’m not sure that he’d have enough donors to make it *TO* the primary today.Report

            • Avatar Philip H says:

              NO, half the country DIDN”T vote for him. Slightly less (around 3 million) then half of the people who voted voted for him. 45% of voters didn’t pull a lever or bubble a scantron or touch a screen. Their reasons are legion (including active voter disenfranchisement activities), but its completely 100% wrong to say he got half the votes. That that the lie persists (and always from the Right) tells me all I nee dot know about how we make sure he’s a one term president.Report