The single worst thing Trump could have done: Boasting he pays no income tax
He fell right into the trap Clinton set - and offended honest American taxpayers. Game, set, match
During Monday's debate – which Hillary Clinton emphatically won in front of an audience of 80 million – Donald Trump handed his opponent a stick with which she will beat him from now until Nov. 8: He admitted he pays no income tax.
At one point in the debate, Ms. Clinton listed all the possible reasons why Mr. Trump had broken with four decades of precedent by refusing to make his tax returns public. Maybe he wasn't as rich as he claimed, she suggested; maybe he didn't give to charity; maybe he didn't want people to know how much money he owed. And then this happened:
Yes, he said: "That makes me smart."
Note to advisers in both camps: There is no trap into which Donald Trump will not leap.
"That's not going to go away," the conservative American commentator John Podhoretz predicted. He's right. Imagine: You have no voice, because the system has its boot on your neck. Donald Trump promises,"I will be your voice." But now he's boasting about being a tax cheat – because when a rich person doesn't pay income tax, that's cheating, whatever the lawyers and accountants say. He boasts about it. This is the soul's dark night.
Vice President Joe Biden flayed Mr. Trump's tax dodge Tuesday in a brimstone speech of righteous anger:
WATCH: VP Biden goes off on Trump over Trump's comments about not paying taxes: "It angers me! ... What in the hell is he talking about!?" pic.twitter.com/Qg5L5HcnvL— NBC Nightly News (@NBCNightlyNews) September 27, 2016
Mr. Trump provided Ms. Clinton with other ammunition during the debate: Insulting yet another judge. Bragging that he profited from the misery of the last recession, which threw millions out of work and plunged millions of mortgages underwater. Accusing Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen of manipulating interest rates for political ends.
And this: Ms. Clinton told the story of how Mr. Trump, when he was involved with the Miss Universe pageant, bullied and tormented Alicia Machado, Miss Universe 1996. Furious at the disclosure, Mr. Trump doubled down Tuesday by explaining himself like this:
For the love of….
But even considering all of that ammunition, what matters most is that Hillary Clinton accused Donald Trump of not paying any income tax. And his response is worth repeating here:
"That makes me smart."