When the bully becomes the bullied

The contortions that spokespersons for Donald Trump have to go through in order to explain away his controversial statements can be quite comical in the way that they brutalize language. For example, Katrina Pierson, when questioned by Fox News about Trump’s refusal to release his tax returns, called the practice of presidential candidates releasing their tax returns a ‘novelty tradition’. Even the Fox News host seemed bemused by calling something that had been going on since the 1970s a novelty.

“Here’s the thing,” the Fox News host continued. “The reason why the voters like Mr. Trump is because he is a successful businessman. They think that he can do the same for the business of this country: Create jobs, get the economy back on track. So, that is why they want to see his tax returns. Why won’t he show them? Put the proof in the pudding.”

Pierson suggested that the media was trying to “bully” Trump into showing his tax returns.

This tax return issues is a turnaround for Trump. Recall how he was one of the most energetic birthers, hounding president Obama incessantly until the so-called long form birth certificate was released though that did not, of course, end the chatter in the fever swamps that Obama had not been born in the US. Now Trump is on the receiving end of incessant calls to do something that is within his power to do. You can be sure that the question of releasing his tax returns will continue to hound him and be asked at the debates as well. Will he succumb to the pressure and release them? I doubt it because he seems to clearly think that doing so will hurt more than help.

The more important question is whether his refusal will hurt his support. It will not among his core supporters but it may harm him among lukewarm or potential supporters. While the size of the group influenced by this may not be large, when you add the small numbers disaffected by his stances on other issues, they can add up. A few here, a few there, pretty soon you are talking serious numbers.


  1. Matt G says

    So a GIRL was brave enough to release her tax returns, but the big, tough-talking man isn’t?? What a sissy!

  2. John Smith says

    @1 But apparently not brave enough to release her Wall St/GEO Group speeches. And let’s please not pretend Hillary Clinton is innocent or even slightly moral. She’s a selfish politician who has ordered innocent children killed by drone strikes.
    Trump should do what Sanders did -- say he’ll release the rest when she releases her speeches. Too bad Trump doesn’t have a brain -- and the brains he does use (Manafort and Stone) are simply not very good.

  3. Chiroptera says

    Me, I’m not usually all that interested in other peoples’ tax returns. Unless a major part of a candidate’s are some big claims that can be verified by looking at the taxes.

  4. Chiroptera says

    Marcus Ranum, #4:

    I already assume Trump has an angle that keeps his tax bill low or even non-existent. Who needs to see his return to verify that? Are they really that naive? Or am I too cynical?

  5. sonofrojblake says

    whether his refusal will hurt his support. It will not among his core supporters

    The story I believe is this: the risk of releasing the tax return is not that it will show he pays no tax -- he can spin that positively (“I’m smarter than the IRS. *I* should be in charge, and I’ll close those loopholes.”) The risk is that it will show, in black and white, that he’s not as rich as he claims. His entire schtick is predicated on the “fact” of his enormous wealth. The very worst thing his tax return could show is that in reality his net worth is less than a billion dollars. THAT could hurt his core support, I think.

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