President Trump outlines wall of lies about the border
How times have changed. In the past, presidents used an Oval Office address for only the most solemn occasions. We remember John F. Kennedy, warning about the Cuban missile crisis; Richard Nixon, resigning the presidency; Lyndon Johnson, announcing he would not seek re-election; Ronald Reagan, comforting the nation after the Challenger disaster; George W. Bush, rallying Americans in the aftermath of Sept. 11; Barack Obama, announcing the capture and death of Osama bin Laden. How times have changed. Donald Trump just used an Oval Office address to tell a pack of lies. Which was not unexpected. TV executives, in fact, did not just grant the president a primetime slot. Knowing Trump’s disregard for the truth, for the first time, every channel also hired fact-checkers, ready to separate fact from fiction as soon as he finished his speech. And they were kept busy.
Trump could have taken as long as he wanted to make his case for a border wall. Instead, he spoke for nine minutes. And he used that time to build a wall: a wall of lies.
Here are just a few of them. There’s a national security crisis at the border, he declared, because “thousands” of illegal immigrants are pouring across the border every day. Big lie. According to the Washington Office on Latin America, a total of 396,579 people were apprehended at the border in 2018, or 1,086 a day — the fifth lowest total since 1973.
Not only that, Trump and Vice President Mike Pence insist some 4,000 people crossing the border were on a terrorist watch list. Actually, NBC News reports that in the first half of 2018, only six people on the terrorist watch list were stopped at the border. The rest were detained at the nation’s airports — where no border wall would stop them.
Building a border wall is so popular, Trump brags, that even many federal workers, now on furlough, are happy to help out by going without a paycheck. But, despite requests by reporters, neither Trump nor White House staffers can name one such sucker.
Not only that, Trump says, former presidents have told him privately they regret not building a wall when they were in the White House, and today support his project. False. All four living former presidents — Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama — have denied Trump’s claim.
Don’t worry about paying for the wall, Trump assures us, because its cost will be covered by the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, or USMCA. Wrong again. That deal, which has not yet been — and may never be — approved by Congress includes no money for the government, period. And, besides, if funding for the wall’s already assured, why’s Trump asking Congress for $5.7 billion?
Finally, in echoes of June 2015, when he declared for president by calling all immigrants criminals, drug dealers or rapists, Trump claimed that thousands of individuals with criminal records were among those crossing the border and then proceeded to recount four horrible crimes committed by illegal immigrants.
The crimes Trump cited were, indeed, heinous. But that does not mean that most immigrants are criminals. And four crimes don’t prove we need a concrete wall on the border. It’s telling, by the way, that Trump cites four crimes by immigrants as proving the need for a border wall, yet never cited mass shootings by Americans — in Las Vegas, Orlando, Fla., Newtown, Conn., or Parkland, Fla. — as proving the need for tougher restrictions on assault weapons.
In the end, Trump’s Oval
Office address, as painful as it was to watch, accomplished nothing. He did not change one vote in Congress nor persuade the American people — of whom 59 percent, according to the latest Quinnipiac poll, oppose the wall. Democrats in Congress and the general public see Trump’s wall for what it is: not the solution to a national security problem, but a silly old campaign promise and Trump’s attempt to build a great, big, beautiful monument to himself: a horizontal Trump tower the entire length of the Mexican border.
There’s no crisis at the border. The only crisis is that, until he gets his wall, Trump’s willing to deny 800,000 federal workers a paycheck. America’s stuck in what is the longest government shutdown ever for one reason only: Because Trump demands that Congress fund something we don’t need and which he promised we’d never have to pay for.
Tribune Content Agency