Ends without means
Throughout the campaign, Trump has been short on details. Thursday night's speech was no exception. Here are examples from the advance copy of Trump's speech at Politico.com.
Trump: "While Hillary Clinton plans a massive tax increase, I have proposed the largest tax reduction of any candidate who has declared for the presidential race this year – Democrat or Republican. Middle-income Americans will experience profound relief, and taxes will be simplified for everyone ... Reducing taxes will cause new companies and new jobs to come roaring back into our country... ""
Scriber: How? All the Bush tax cuts did was make the rich richer and jack up the deficit. Trump's proposed tax cuts will do no differently. As Sen. Warren points out (below), Trump will be a million or so dollars richer under his plan.
Trump: "We will build the roads, highways, bridges, tunnels, airports, and the railways of tomorrow ... We will completely rebuild our depleted military..."
Scriber: I guess the money for all this will come from depleted revenue due to the tax cuts? This guy is blowing smoke.
Trump: "We will repeal and replace disastrous Obamacare. "
Scriber: Usual GOP talking point. Replace with what?
Trump channels the radical right
When he is not glossing over the means to his ends, he pushes a radical right-wing agenda.
Trump: "We will rescue kids from failing schools by helping their parents send them to a safe school of their choice."
Scriber: That's Orwellian for destruction of public education with a voucher system.
Trump: "At this moment, I would like to thank the evangelical community who have been so good to me and so supportive. You have so much to contribute to our politics, yet our laws prevent you from speaking your minds from your own pulpits. An amendment, pushed by Lyndon Johnson, many years ago, threatens religious institutions with a loss of their tax-exempt status if they openly advocate their political views. I am going to work very hard to repeal that language and protect free speech for all Americans."
Scriber: Translation: let's tear down anything that separates church and state. Jefferson this guy is not.
Steve Benen (MaddowBlog) has more on the "Johnson amendment" and what it does. It provides for tax exempt status for churches in return for churches staying non-partisan. And that includes not endorsing candidates from the pulpit. Benen concludes:
Trump is saying he wants to scrap the deal: the churches should get the benefit of a tax exemption from the government, without any of the conditions.
As for the First Amendment, note that tax-exempt entities, including churches, have the option of getting engaged in partisan politics, endorsing candidates, and intervening in campaigns to their hearts’ content – but they can’t do this while keeping their tax exemption.
Why does Trump want to change this? Basically because the religious right told him to. But why does the religious right want this? Because some on the right still dream of creating a church-based political machine.
The consequences could be dramatic. Imagine the campaign-finance mess that would exist if parties, candidates, and PACs could funnel campaign donations through tax-exempt churches, free of oversight.
My old friend (and former employer) the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church State, said this week the idea would be “short-sighted, reckless and corrosive to religious life.” He added, “The Republican platform seeks to turn America’s houses of worship into miniature political action committees. I can’t imagine a more disruptive idea for our nation’s religious community or a real impediment to campaign finance reform.”
Lies and more lies
The speech was peppered with distortions and out-and out lies. Here is an example from PoliticusUSA.com.
Trump Lie: While Hillary Clinton plans a massive tax increase, I have proposed the largest tax reduction of any candidate who has declared for the presidential race this year – Democrat or Republican. Middle-income Americans will experience profound relief, and taxes will be simplified for everyone.
Fact: Moody’s Analytics report: Donald Trump’s tax plan would mostly benefit those at the very top of the income distribution, and job losses resulting from his economic policies would most affect lower- and middle-income households. [Moody’s Analytics report, 6/20/16]
For a more complete analysis of the lies in the speech, see this transcript with embedded fact-checking results.
UPDATE: AZBlueMeanie has a comprehensive list of all the fact checking of Trump's speech done by media sources.
Dangerous Donald's additions to his speech
Now that the convention is over, the old Donald is springing forth with his old nuttiness. For just one example, reported by Steve Benen (MaddowBlog), the Donald is back on one of his earlier obsessions: Ted Cruz's father.
This is obviously speculative, but my suspicion is that Trump was so careful last night, adding very little to his prepared text, that it left him uncomfortable. The Republican nominee had so much craziness he was eager to add to his speech, but everyone told him to stick to the script, and he reluctantly agreed.
But now that the convention is over, Trump no longer feels constrained, and he can return to the craziness that he kept bottled up for one whole day.
What else could explain such nutty behavior?
Whether or not this explains this morning’s bizarre and unscripted performance, the fact that Trump is still eager to talk about Cruz – and Cruz’s father’s imaginary connection to the Kennedy assassination – suggests there may be something very wrong with the Republicans’ presidential nominee.
Having a president, or even just someone being considered for president, who has "something very wrong" is beyond scary. It is a, to copy one of Tom Clancy's titles, a clear and present danger. Elizabeth Warren knows that and calls out Trump as "dangerous" in this interview with Stephen Colbert (Facebook video).