Sunday, October 2, 2016

Trump's no good, very bad, absolutely terrible week -- with nobody but himself to blame

Donald Trump does not -- ever -- accept the responsibity for anything, no matter how minor.   That's a fact that he is proud of.   Once asked by a religious conservative if he had ever asked God's forgiveness, he said no.  He'd  never felt he had anything he needed forgiveness for.  Not that he's an atheist, or doesn't consider confession a part of religious practice;  it's that he is blameless.

This week began with a debate performance widely panned as a "disaster."   But it was not his fault.  He blamed the moderator for being unfair, he blamed the mic for being "a bad mic," he blamed a Miss Universe winner from years ago for saying he harassed her for gaining weight, he blames the biased media, he blamed the polls.

So the debate set the stage for his very bad week.   But that's not all.  The investigative reporters are on the job.

1.  Kurt Eichenwald followed up on his blockbuster report in last week's Newsweek  about Trump's entangled business relationships with foreign investors, including Russian oligarchs and others who are influential with foreign governments, plus possibly some criminals involved in his deals.   This week, Eichenwald adds to the story with proof in printed receipts that a man representing the Trump Organization went to Cuba in 1998 to explore setting up a casino there.   No deal was worked out;  but the simple fact of spending money there on a single trip in 1998 was a violation of the U.S. embargo against spending any money in Cuba.  And within weeks of that act in 1998, Trump was giving a speech to the Cuban-American community in Florida, excoriating the Castro regime and denouncing anyone who failed to observe the embargo.    Trump did not himself go to Cuba, but his company paid for an operative to go there -- and thus violated the treaty.

As Rachel Maddow pointed out, the average voter isn't going to care about this, but Cuban-American voters in South Florida -- a key block for Trump to win the state -- are extremely angry, not only for breaking the embargo but also for lying to them about it.

2.  David Farenthold is the dogged investigative reporter for the Washington Post, who broke the story of Trump's misuse of Trump Foundation funds to settle his own business interests.   The Foundation was set up with Trump money, but he has not put any of his own money into it since 2008, getting other business associates and friends to contribute.  Then he uses the money, under the guise that it's his charity.    Now Farenthold has discovered that the Foundation has never registered with New York State and received the credentials necessary to solicit money from others for charitable purposes.   This could result in fines, or a requirement that he return all the money donated, or possibly even shutting down the Foundation.

This has more than background connection to Trump's campaign for president.  Last spring, in a pique with Megyn Kelly and FoxNews, he refused to participate in the next debate.  Instead he held a simultaneous rally nearby to raise money for veterans.  He claimed he raised $1,670,000.   Online contributors were directed to send the money to the Donald J. Trump Foundation.   Now we know that was illegal, since the Foundation is not registered by the state -- which requires periodic auditing.    If a foundation only receives unsolicited donations, registration is not required.   So it may be an oversight or lack of knowledge of the law when it changed from its original status as a family foundation.  But once Trump began directing people to settle various deals with him by giving the money to his Foundation, he was already violating the law even before this solicitation for donations to the Foundation to be used for veterans -- which, by the way, didn't get to veteran charities until months later after investigators reported they could find no veterans groups that had gotten the money.

3.   Trump's post-debate behavior has only made his bad debate performance even worse.   He just will not let the story of the Venezuelan beauty queen go.    He continues to lash back at her, sending out tweets at 3 am and 5 am telling people to look at a sex tape he claims is Alicia Machado.   Investigators of course have been unable to find any evidence of such a tape.  Instead we're getting reports that Trump himself once did an intro for a soft-core porn tape and then tried to persuade his mistress Marla Maples to accept Playboy's $1 million offer to pose nude.   She refused.

Trump does not seem to realize he is only hurting himself with this continued juvenile tirade.  It provides a vivid example of how easy it is to bait him into a bad response, revealing his obsessive vengeance when he is attacked.  Not presidential.  No, not at all.

4.   And on top of all this, and largely because of it, the tension and open fighting within the Trump campaign organization has increased, with rumors that the Trump kids are unhappy that the rough campaign is hurting the business.    Trump hotel bookings are down by over 50% overall, with the two major ones being New York and Las Vegas at over 70% down.   In addition they are said to be blaming the staff for not preparing their father for the debate -- which of course must dismay Kellyanne Conway and others who tried so hard and just couldn't get Donald to sit down and focus.

I'd rather have Hillary Clinton winning on her own qualifications and her campaign, and not depending on the never-Trump vote.  But whatever help she gets in the polls by a self-destructing Donald Trump -- we'll take it and be grateful.


PS:   What a waste that, coming into the last month of the campaign, we're talking about this stuff instead of the candidates' positions on:  immigration reform, infrastructure rebuilding, jobs, the Middle East, national security, police-community relations, and voting rights. 

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