Khizr Khan, the Gold Star father who spoke so eloquently and powerfully at the Democratic National Convention, said to Donald Trump, “You have sacrificed nothing.” And last night the Republican candidate continued to prove how right Mr. Kahn was.
Anyone so unprepared, so purposely unprepared, really demonstrated an utter lack of respect for the office he seeks and the people from whom he seeks it. It is that simple. If a man doesn’t care enough to get ready, to bone up in order to show he knows something about the world and the way it works and has worked, to curb his weird enthusiasm for juvenile mannerisms and mumbling, then he should just admit he doesn’t think the job is worthy of his time and effort. He should just say that he believes that we the people aren’t worth even the smallest sacrifice. We aren’t worth time away from his Twitter feed.
But Trump, tiredly, soldiered on last night, if for no other reason than this isn’t about him becoming president as much as it is about him not becoming a loser and being permanently branded as one. He made it clear last night that he cares nothing about those poor suckers who buy his hats and his hogwash, otherwise he would have put some effort into presenting himself as someone other than the man—half con man and half clown—he has always been. And he made it clear this morning, as he suggested that the debate was somehow rigged against him, that not losing for the sake of not losing is his only priority.
But Trump did perform a valuable service during the debate. We found out some important things about him, all of which he confirmed himself.
First, we found out he is willing to admit that he is a sleazeball, or at least very close to being a sleazeball. He told us that he “was going to say something extremely rough to Hillary, to her family. And I said to myself I can’t do it. I just can’t do it. It’s inappropriate, it’s not nice.” He clarified what he meant after the debate:
Everything I wanted to say I got out except for the transgressions of Bill…I’m very happy that I was able to hold back on the indiscretions with respect to Bill Clinton because I have a lot of respect for Chelsea Clinton and I just didn’t want to say what I was going to say.
Except that everyone knew what he was talking about when he brought it up during the debate. And then he doubled down on it afterwards and said he might do it “at the next debate.” So, Trump may just be one debate away from personally and definitively confirming he is a creep.
Then there was his response to Clinton’s charge that he had cheated people who worked for him:
CLINTON: …if your main claim to be president of the United States is your business, then I think we should talk about that. You know, your campaign manager said that you built a lot of businesses on the backs of little guys.
And, indeed, I have met a lot of the people who were stiffed by you and your businesses, Donald. I’ve met dishwashers, painters, architects, glass installers, marble installers, drapery installers, like my dad was, who you refused to pay when they finished the work that you asked them to do.
We have an architect in the audience who designed one of your clubhouses at one of your golf courses. It’s a beautiful facility. It immediately was put to use. And you wouldn’t pay what the man needed to be paid, what he was charging you to do…
TRUMP: Maybe he didn’t do a good job and I was unsatisfied with his work…
He didn’t deny that he “built a lot of businesses on the backs of little guys,” which is what Kellyanne Conway, his campaign manager, suggested when she was working for Ted Cruz. No, he didn’t deny it. He actually confirmed it. Right before our eyes.
Then there was another admission:
CLINTON: Well, let’s stop for a second and remember where we were eight years ago. We had the worst financial crisis, the Great Recession, the worst since the 1930s. That was in large part because of tax policies that slashed taxes on the wealthy, failed to invest in the middle class, took their eyes off of Wall Street, and created a perfect storm.
In fact, Donald was one of the people who rooted for the housing crisis. He said, back in 2006, “Gee, I hope it does collapse, because then I can go in and buy some and make some money.” Well, it did collapse.
TRUMP: That’s called business, by the way.
He confirmed that he had “rooted for the housing crisis” that, as Clinton pointed out, cost “nine million people” their jobs and wiped out “$13 trillion in family wealth.” He confirmed that all that misery was an opportunity for him to make some money. A real man of the people.
Next, there was the damaging admission about what’s in his tax returns:
CLINTON: Well, I think you’ve seen another example of bait-and- switch here. For 40 years, everyone running for president has released their tax returns. You can go and see nearly, I think, 39, 40 years of our tax returns, but everyone has done it. We know the IRS has made clear there is no prohibition on releasing it when you’re under audit.
So you’ve got to ask yourself, why won’t he release his tax returns? And I think there may be a couple of reasons. First, maybe he’s not as rich as he says he is. Second, maybe he’s not as charitable as he claims to be. Third, we don’t know all of his business dealings, but we have been told through investigative reporting that he owes about $650 million to Wall Street and foreign banks. Or maybe he doesn’t want the American people, all of you watching tonight, to know that he’s paid nothing in federal taxes, because the only years that anybody’s ever seen were a couple of years when he had to turn them over to state authorities when he was trying to get a casino license, and they showed he didn’t pay any federal income tax.
TRUMP: That makes me smart.
Nothing like a “smart” freeloader. As Clinton pointed out, “if he’s paid zero, that means zero for troops, zero for vets, zero for schools or health.” And Trump did not deny that he pays zero in taxes. He didn’t deny that he is a freeloader, that he enjoys tremendous benefits of living in this country without having to pay anything for them. In labor union parlance, someone who enjoys the benefits of a union without paying dues is a scab. So, Trump admits he is a scab. The people who build his buildings and take care of his golf courses have to pay taxes. The rubes who buy his hats have to pay taxes. The goons who beat up people at his rallies have to pay taxes. But not Trump. He gets a free ride. As Khizr Khan said, he has sacrificed nothing.
So, last night we got a personal confirmation from Trump that,
♦ He was unwilling to sacrifice some time and effort to prepare for a presidential debate.
♦ He is, or will soon demonstrate that he is, a sleazeball.
♦ He cheated “little guys” out of the money he owed them.
♦ He rooted for the housing crisis that devastated millions of Americans.
♦ He hasn’t paid a dime in federal taxes for the privilege of living in our country.
I’d say the debate went fairly well.