Pres­i­dent Trump out­lines wall of lies about the bor­der

The Morning Call (Sunday) - - TOWN SQUARE - Bill Press

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

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