President Trump, who announced this week that he’s a nationalist as if it were in doubt, knows one true thing: The biggest lies are at once the most likely to seduce and least requiring of proof.
His biggest amid a flood of them is that the caravan of Central Americans fleeing their lawless countries is the work of Democrats, or as he refers to them, the mob. What’s more those "bad people" seeking legal asylum include Middle Easterners and MS-13 members.
If you think this is just one more among the more than 4,000 documented falsehoods that can be shrugged off as Trump being Trump, look at where we are. Investigations are to come but after Trump’s latest incitements, including his praise of a candidate who body-slammed a reporter last year to the approving roar of the crowd, a spate of bombs has shown up across the country.
A sophisticated one was found in the mailbox of billionaire George Soros, whom the right considers the go-to funder for progressive causes like the caravan. A suspicious package showed up at the Clinton’s home in Chappaqua, New York.
A pipe bomb with wires was found at CNN addressed to former CIA director John Brennan whose security clearance Trump took away.
The migrants we are to fear — to Trump, a brown wave invading Texas he hopes will stem a blue wave — were a small group that banded together for protection on a trek north without the thieving coyotes who leave them to die in the desert after being paid thousands of dollars.
The group grew after a cable channel aligned with the corrupt government, concerned about the message a mass exodus was conveying, made up a story that a former state legislator was inciting them with food and protection.
Not true, but true enough to encourage many who’d been desperate but afraid to flee their lawless countries, where 90 percent of violent crimes go unpunished, to join up, seeking safety in numbers.
The war on the caravan is partly to divert attention from how Trump’s cruel measures did nothing to stem the mass exodus. In blasting the caravan, Trump has given up any worry of being overtly racist. Does anyone think if a group of fearful citizens from Saskatchewan were gathered at the Canadian border seeking asylum, Trump would be demonizing them?
Maybe if they claimed to be escaping the tyranny of Justin Trudeau, who refuses to kiss the president’s ring. While he rejected David Duke’s endorsement during the campaign, Trump said nothing when Duke praise him for pronouncing himself a proud nationalist this week.
Following Trump’s lead, many campaigns feature overt racism. Rep. Duncan Hunter, D-Calif., indicted on corruption charges he blames on his wife, calls his Arab-American opponent "a security risk," while another indicted Republican, Rep. Chris Collins, shows his opponent speaking Korean to say he favors that country over our own.
Against black candidates, white Republicans are running ads that would make Lee Atwater of Willie Horton fame blush. They’ve shown a black hand covering a white woman’s mouth in Dallas, called a black candidate in upstate New York a "big city rapper," and in Florida, former congressman Ron DeSantis urged voters not to elect Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum and "monkey this up."
He defended the slur as a figure of speech.
Although the White House went into overdrive trying to justify Trump’s fiction about the caravan, the best they could do was to deploy the most servile vice president in modern history to say that it was "inconceivable" that there wasn’t a Muslim in the group. Midweek, having shot his lies into the bloodstream, Trump said that because no one could disprove what he was saying, it had to be true.
"No one’s campaigning on the first tax bill, it was such a bust for the non-wealthy."
Lying about the caravan is the most serious in a series of lies broadcast this campaign. Seeing that the public is upset over Republicans’ effort to take away coverage for their kid’s asthma or their own cancer, Trump is accusing Democrats of trying to kill coverage for pre-existing conditions when in fact doing that is the most fervent desire of Trump, the congressional majority, and candidates like Florida Gov. Rick Scott (running to unseat Sen. Bill Nelson) and Missouri’s Attorney General Josh Hawley (challenging Sen. Claire McCaskill).
Scott and Hawley have spent hundreds of thousands on ads pretending they haven’t sued the federal government to end coverage, Hawley going so far as to use his own son with a pre-existing condition as proof.
As for the lying tax cut for the middle-class before Election Day, it would only take a not very smart fifth-grader to see through it. No one’s campaigning on the first tax bill, it was such a bust for the non-wealthy. Trump boasted to his Mar-a-Lago crowd that they’d "all just got a lot richer," from it in 2017.
There’s no chance he’s going to fix that. In keeping with Trump’s turning his party into a bunch of lying liars to protect him, the formerly truthful chair of House Ways and Means Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas, gave a thumbs-up when called upon to endorse Trump’s assertion at a Houston rally fully aware the out-of-session Congress couldn’t make it happen.
At best, Trump could issue a meaningless resolution that maybe someday, somehow, could lead to legislation.
Don’t hold your breath.
But breathe in deeply the truth telling lately from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who promised that if voters keep his majority, he will kill what’s left of Obamacare, and slash Medicare and Social Security to fix the deficit engorged by the current majority’s profligate spending.
It’s hard for Democrats to keep up with Trump’s false claims, especially on the caravan.
Their efforts are immediately rebuffed as being soft on gangs, desirous of open borders, and driven by an incurable case of excess compassion. No one hears that they’ve been begging Trump to advance an immigration reform bill that passed the Senate with 63 votes before he took office.
Trump prefers the crowd-pleasing issue. How the vote goes may come down to whether you are more sickened by a caravan of those struggling to be free of tyranny, as Trump is, or by the pictures of caged and incarcerated children. It’s hard to believe there’s a contest.
Margaret Carlson is a columnist for the Daily Beast. She was formerly the first woman columnist at Time magazine, a columnist at Bloomberg View, a weekly panelist on CNN’s "Capital Gang" and managing editor at the New Republic. To read more of her reports — Click Here Now.
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