This week we were supposed to be celebrating the return of spring, not shoveling snow, so I’m cleaning out my closet of some political odds and ends as we await the reappearance of warm weather.
Was that a Trump campaign ad? MSNBC’s liberal anchor Rachel Maddow promised her viewers a bombshell on Tuesday night’s show: President Trump’s tax returns. What she revealed was a part of Trump’s 2005 federal return that showed he paid $38 million in taxes on $150 million in income for a tax rate of 25.3 percent. Since the left had assumed that Trump paid no taxes at all, it was a bit of a comedown. Now Trump can brag that he paid a higher rate than President Obama (2015, 18.7 percent) and Bernie Sanders (2014, 13.5 percent). Thanks, Rachel!
Fear of the unknown. Political observers ho-humming the field of unknown Democrats running against Republican Governor Charlie Baker in 2018 overlook an essential truth in Massachusetts politics, which is that Republicans are always the underdog. Baker won election in 2014 with less than 50 percent of the vote, edging out rival Martha Coakley by 40,000 votes. If not for the United Independent Party’s Evan Falchuk and his 71,000 votes, Coakley might be governor today. In a less polarizing time, it was possible for Bill Weld to win reelection in 1994 with 71 percent of the vote. That is not going to happen in the Trump era. The Democratic nomination remains a prize worth having in deep blue Massachusetts. Eighteen months from now, whoever emerges as the Democratic nominee will be a household name.
Unethical fund-raising? After joining a federal lawsuit challenging President Trump’s immigration order, Attorney General Maura Healey blasted out an e-mail to her campaign supporters seeking political donations. “Will you donate now to help me as I make our case?” the Democrat wrote in soliciting contributions of $100 to $1,000. On the one hand, incumbents raise money for their election based on their record. But when it comes to the attorney general, citizens need to know legal decisions are based on the law and the facts, not what will rake in the coin. It would be equally wrong if the attorney general were a Republican who decided not to join the immigration lawsuit against Trump, then trumpeted that fact to GOP supporters in order to fatten a campaign war chest.
Not funny. Snoop Dogg’s newest music video, “Lavender,” has him aiming and firing a toy gun at the head of an actor dressed as Donald Trump in clown makeup. Modern culture floods us with shocking images, so maybe we’ve lost our capacity to be outraged. But in a country where four sitting presidents have been killed, all of them by gunshot, a line needs to be drawn. Snoop Dogg is not a Trump fan, and that’s fine, but this is not art; it’s a provocation to violence.
Trump is not the only person with a credibility problem. Since 1972, Gallup’s pollsters have been asking, “Do you trust the media to report the news fairly and accurately?” The number of people responding positively to that question peaked in 1976 at 72 percent, in the wake of Watergate and Vietnam. It’s been falling ever since, and last year stood at 32 percent. Maybe one way to stop the slide is for news organizations to ban reporters covering Trump from Twitter, where sarcasm seems to be the journalistic standard. A Twitter ban will not necessarily restore the media’s objectivity but it will spare the rest of us from having to witness the proof of its absence.
Eric Fehrnstrom is a Republican political analyst and media strategist, and was a senior adviser to Governor Mitt Romney.