Paul Waldman in the Washington Post on Trump and his fear of revealing his tax returns:
There are two explanations for what Trump is trying to conceal. The first is that there are scandalous or even criminal activities that he has engaged in — partnerships with shady characters, cases of money laundering — and the returns would point the way to discover them.
To understand why, you have to remember that the Trump Organization is not an ordinary corporation in the way you might think of it. In fact, it is an amalgam of approximately 500 separate partnerships and pass-through companies (which is why Trump almost certainly reaped millions of dollars in tax benefits from the 2017 tax law, which included a 20 percent deduction for pass-throughs). If we had Trump’s returns, each of those arrangements could be investigated, and no one who has reported on Trump’s business activities would say there aren’t shocking things to discover.
The second explanation for Trump’s determination not to allow the returns to become public is in some ways more innocent: that as so many have speculated, he’s not nearly as rich as he always says. Is it possible that Trump’s motives are only the most petty, shallow and vain ones? After all, we’re talking about Donald Trump.
Of course, both things could be true. Trump’s returns could show him to be less wealthy than he says, and also reveal instances of scandalous or criminal behavior. If I had to hazard a guess I’d say that’s what’s most likely.
I think the biggest reason is that Trump has spent the last fifty years or so trying to get his father to like him.
No, I’m not a psychiatrist or psychologist. But I am a theatre scholar and I spend a lot of time analyzing plays that deal with family, and this Trump story has daddy issues written all over it.
Think about it: the failed marriages, the serial lying and boasting, even the obsession with his appearance; he’s trying to win approval and be seen as a success to the one person who could make him feel fulfilled and gain acceptance. This sort of pathology is the root of drama going all the way from Oedipus and Shakespeare and through modern drama — Eugene O’Neill, Arthur Miller, Robert Anderson (“I Never Sang For My Father”) — and on and on. Even the bible is rife with characters seeking their father’s approval, including the big one: the New Testament.
It’s not like he’s the first president trying to win paternal blessing. Our history has a lot of men who played out their family dynamics on the national stage as well as around the kitchen table. But with Trump this particular drama seems to be on a tragic arc that not only drags the audience along with it but the whole world.