Monday, April 11, 2016

248. Trump’s claims don’t hold up

Donald Trump supporters say they like him because he “tells it like it is.”

He’s bold and brash and rich, and to some that offers credibility to what he says. He’s perceived as an outsider and his followers have adopted a religious mindset. They offer unconditional support, feeding off the sentiment that it’s them against everyone else. They have become so entrenched that there is no going back now — regardless how much “The Donald” embarrasses himself or the Republican Party.

The problem is Trump doesn’t tell it like it is.

His rating on Politifact, the Pulitzer Prize-winning truth meter for political statements, is quite dreadful, and includes the 2015 Politifact lies of the year. Of the 117 analyzed Trump statements, only three — that’s right, three — were graded as “true.” Another 24 were judged to be “mostly true,” or “half-true.”

Conversely, the other 90 statements were rated as “half-false,” “mostly false,” or “pants on fire.” That’s a remarkable 77 percent of his statements regarded as some sort of falsehood.

Some examples include:

• On David Duke: “I don’t know any — honestly, I don’t know David Duke. I don’t believe I have ever met him. I’m pretty sure I didn’t meet him. And I just don’t know anything about him.” Pants on fire, Trump actually denounced Duke, specifically and explicitly in 2000.

• On unemployment: “Don’t believe those phony numbers when you hear 4.9 and 5 percent unemployment. The number’s probably 28, 29, as high as 35. In fact, I even heard recently 42 percent.” Pants on fire, and Politifact noted that those numbers are not even close.

• On taxes: “Right now we’re the highest-taxed country in the world.” False. Politifact says that the “United States is far from the most taxed nation in the world, whether it’s an advanced industrialized economy or not.”

• On refugees: “And when you look at what just happened… And our president wants to take in 250,000 from Syria.” Pants on fire. Politifact explains that “the administration has plans to increase refugees admitted from all countries from 70,000 in 2015 to 100,000 in 2017,” nowhere near 250,000 from Syria alone.

• On Bernie Sanders: “He’s gonna tax you people at 90 percent. He’s gonna take everything. And nobody’s heard the term communist, but you know what? I’d call him a socialist/communist, OK? ‘Cause that’s what he is.” More pants on fire. This is absurdly wrong because though Sanders wants to increase taxes, it is predominantly on the wealthy and nothing close to 90 percent.

• On Iran: “We love the deal you made with Iran. We give them $150 billion, we get nothing.” False. The only thing Trump got right, according to Politifact, is the name of the country. It was already Iran’s money; sanctions were lifted in exchange for not pursuing nuclear bombs.

But don’t take it from me, go to Politifact and research it for yourself. Each claim is researched and clearly evaluated and explained. Actually, it is quite interesting.

Despite fleeting details in many of his policy statements, Trump manages to exploit a portion of a story, often twisting and turning them into attractive but largely inaccurate campaign ploys. When pressed, he falls back on, “We’re going to make American great again,” and that we should simply “believe” him, or “trust” him.

The problem that voters should recognize is that the president is an important job. This isn’t a reality show; this is real life with consequences that will resonate around the world.

My frustration has often led me to proclaim that this country deserves Trump. This country continues to have googly-eyes for wealth and materialism. We live in a world of self-promotion, personal branding, and selfishness, and Trump is the poster child.

Trump’s extremism and erraticism has even Republicans scrambling to coordinate his defeat. What Republicans don’t want to admit is that they created Trump. For years, many have rallied voters with discrimination towards minorities and homosexuals. They have used fear to create detestation for not only Islamic extremism, but all of Islam, even American Muslims. They have angered people with the idea the Second Amendment was at risk. And they get people worked up over the idea that government is too big, taxes are too high, and welfare only helps the undeserving poor.

So, come on folks, vote for Trump if you like, but enough with the “telling it like it is,” fantasy. The truth is that he’s a snake oil salesman of the most dangerous kind.