In terms of political capital, Monday night’s debate was probably a draw. On substance, everybody but Drudge and Breitbart called it for Hillary Clinton, but Donald Trump’s mastery of both the media and the message rarely leave him being seen as the loser.
As far as Mr. Trump’s disavowal of support for the invasion of Iraq in response to the moderator’s on-the-fly fact-checking, we grant that such an explanation from a more reliably trustworthy source would easily earn the benefit of the doubt, and in truth, fairness requires that, despite Mr. Trump’s numerous prevarications, we must grant that perhaps he means what he says in this case. The confusion, as in numerous other examples, does appear to be the public’s difficulty in discerning the logical bridge between what he thinks and the words he uses to describe what he thinks. Maybe it will get easier once we get used to his sense of humor.
What we won’t let up on, however, is his continuing ridiculous claims regarding his role in “birtherism,” for he has made it clear that this is no joke. Two weeks ago, he declared that the facts of President Obama’s birth make him an American citizen and qualify him for the office he has held since 2009, “period.” This deserves another look, since he continues to peddle the fiction that he was the one who ended the controversy.
Interviewers, fact-checkers and other members of the media, as well as the Clinton campaign, have focused their attention on why he continued to press the issue after the release of the president’s long-form birth record in 2011. Monday night’s moderator did it again. Mr. Trump has tried to spin it as though he performed a great service by forcing the president to produce that record to disprove the outrageously insulting insinuation that sowed the seeds of the racial undertones that have beset the presidency of Barack Obama. The press’s lapse in memory and Mr. Trump's years-long insistence is made more outrageous when we recall that then-Sen. Obama first responded to the accusation before he was ever elected, in 2008, with his short-form birth record, a legal, accurate document that demonstrated the truth eight years before Mr. Trump decided to acknowledge it. Period. It was the equivalent of insisting 1 plus 1 does not equal 2, and refusing to accept the evidence of looking at his own two thumbs for proof, until his chauffeur eventually closes the limousine door on them both at once. No wonder the president savaged him at the White House Correspondents Dinner in 2011. He had it coming.
Similarly, the press and Clinton campaign seem to be stuck on Mr. Trump’s ongoing tax audit. He won’t release his taxes because they’re under audit. The Internal Revenue Service, however, has made clear that his taxes from 2002-08 are no longer under audit. Let’s see them, instead. They’ll do for now.
John Oliver on his Sunday night “Last Week Tonight” HBO series became only the latest to make clear that there’s no equivalent comparison between the scandals of the two candidates. Charges never seem to stick to Ms. Clinton, but it’s because, despite investigation after investigation, "the harder you look, the less you actually find," as Mr. Oliver observed.
Charges don’t stick to Mr. Trump, even when they are proved. Bankruptcies, racist housing policies, zero taxes paid, and self-dealing charity work are all indisputable facts. Hints of deeper problems, such as fraud, international financial entanglements and pay-for-play have not yet been subject to the level of scrutiny — or held to the standards — Ms. Clinton has faced. His “lawyerly” response to the accusation about the federal suit against his company for discriminatory renting practices — “no admission of guilt” — would have been torn apart, had she used it.
Don’t be misled. Our persistent criticism of this candidate does not arise from some liberal bent or reflexive support for Ms. Clinton, or any other candidate, for that matter.
It begins with Donald Trump’s plainly stated distaste for the First, Fourth, Fifth, Eighth, and 14th amendments to the Constitution of the United States.
His lack of transparency in contrast with a strongly vetted rival just means it doesn’t end there.