Trust deficit on both sides of the election
No irony is too rich for Donald Trump.
Hillary Clinton has stumbled — once figuratively and once literally — in the past week, opening the door for Trump to raise questions about her capacity to serve.
First she labeled some of his supporters “deplorables,” which Trump said disqualifies her from public service. Never mind that he’s been criticized for his own comments about women, a handicapped reporter, a Mexican-American judge, Mexican immigrants and Muslims.
Then when Clinton, ill with pneumonia, teetered on her feet while being ushered into a vehicle during a 9/11 ceremony in New York, Trump tweeted that Clinton should release detailed medical records — further promoting internet speculation that she is medically unfit for the presidency
Trump’s running mate, Mike Pence, said both presidential candidates owe the public detailed information about their health. “People are vying for the highest office in the land,” he said Monday on CNN. “People have a right to know.”
That right to know apparently doesn’t extend to Trump’s financial health. While repeatedly hammering Clinton’s trustworthiness, Trump has yet to release his tax returns — a time-honored practice stretching back to President Ford.
Voters have come to expect that presidential candidates will be transparent about their finances. Tax returns would tell us how much he makes, how much he pays in taxes, how much he gives away and whether that information jibes with claims he’s made about his success as a businessman and charitable donations.
As it is, Trump expects voters to trust him that he’s the brilliant billionaire he claims to be, despite a history of bankruptcies, lawsuits and allegations of stiffing contractors.
Trump claims he can’t release his tax returns because he is under audit, but the IRS has asserted that “nothing prevents individuals from sharing their own tax information.”
Clinton has released both her tax returns and a detailed medical record and said she’ll make more health information available this week.
The point is, Clinton has been raked over the coals for her penchant for secrecy, yet it’s precisely the reason why we know so much about her. The more she attempts to hide, the more she invites investigations and congressional inquiries. She’s the most vetted person ever to seek the presidency, albeit in dubious fashion.
She may have earned the “Crooked Hillary” nickname Trump gave her by failing to be straightforward, but that doesn’t give Trump a monopoly on the truth. In July, the fact-checking organization Politifact said 27 percent of Clinton’s statements it investigated were false, compared with 76 percent of Trump’s.
The fact that neither candidate inspires trust leaves voters attempting to discern what’s worse: bald-faced lies told compulsively or those told tactically in a perverse bid for self-preservation?