1. Trump has brought a gun to a knife fight and has no intention of politely turning it in at the door. The threat of a third party run on an anti-immigrant ticket gives him exceptional leverage.
2. Trump is willing to take extreme positions that appeal to the base and present them in unvarnished terms even when they are repugnant to the general population;
But we haven't said much about this:
3. Trump is also just as willing to abandon conservative sacred cows if they aren't popular with the base. We've mentioned preserving Social Security benefits but this hasn't gotten a lot of attention:
"I would change it. I would simplify it," Trump told hosts Mark Halperin and John Heilemann from the lobby of Trump Tower on New York's 5th Ave. Specifically, Trump targeted hedge fund profits, which are currently taxed at a lower rate than regular income.The underlying point I've been hammering away at in the naked emperor posts is that the political reporting of the mainstream press has become a mass of strange conventions and agreed-upon half-truths. It is not a robust system and Trump's campaign is applying stress from at least two different directions: when he rejects the Republican orthodoxy on taxes and Social Security, he points out how extreme those positions are; when he embraces popular positions within the base involving racism and xenophobia, he does it so openly ("Obama is a Kenyan," "Mexicans are criminals.") that journalists can't spin it as anything but what it is.
"I would take carried interest out, and I would let people making hundreds of millions of dollars-a-year pay some tax, because right now they are paying very little tax and I think it's outrageous," Trump said. "I want to lower taxes for the middle class."
Asked whether his proposed changes meant he was prepared to raise taxes on himself, the billionaire framed his answer in terms of fairness.
"That's right. That's right. I'm OK with it. You've seen my statements, I do very well, I don't mind paying some taxes. The middle class is getting clobbered in this country. You know the middle class built this country, not the hedge fund guys, but I know people in hedge funds that pay almost nothing and it's ridiculous, OK?"
p.s. I couldn't find a way to work in this very sharp analysis by Josh Marshall but you should read it anyway.