It’s time to Break It Down!
Back during the spring and summer, when political campaigns initially heated up, there were a hand full of Democratic candidates, and a host of Republicans who fancied themselves as possessing the Right Stuff to talk, fund raise, and politic their way to the White House in 2016. In the ensuing 5-6 months, as spring gave way to summer, only to be replaced by fall, the end of Daylight Savings Time, and soon to be winter, a lot has changed. Two of the five Democrats have thought better of their efforts and shelved their aspirations, at least for this cycle. Slowly, but surely, the republican field is winnowing too, though admittedly, at a slower pace.
There is one thing, against all odds, at least those of prognosticators, that has not changed. Donald Trump shot out of the gate as the leader of the GOP pack, early on. Almost everybody who knows anything about the subject, and quite a few folks, who like me, do not profess to be so insightful, presumed, guessed, and in a number of instances even argued that the Trump phenomenon was a fleeting thing; indeed, a fluke.
The typical reasoning went along the lines of two or three key thematic scenarios.
- It’s the political silly season; it will quickly come to an end.
- The Republican base is tired of “politicians,” but they will revert to a mainstream candidate before the proverbial schiznit hits the oscillating air mover.
- Who was leading in the polls at this time in 2007; where are they now?
The reality is, any or all of the above could still come to pass, and Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz, or Marco Rubio…OK, maybe not Bush, but Cruz or Rubio, just to name a couple of traditional politicians, could, if not exactly catapult, gradually overtake the duo of anti-politicians, Donald Trump, and Dr. Ben Carson, and assume the lead position for the prize of the GOP Nomination for President.
While I’ve already conceded not to be an expert in matters such as this, I must take a moment to say, I have been an outlier from the beginning. That is to say, I say as long ago as June, I believed…not in Donald Trump; I don’t, but I did, and still do believe that he could capture his Party’s nod for the nomination.
My belief is tied to the observation that there is a hugely frustrated segment of Americans that did not want Barack Obama to become President, hate the fact that he won, hate it more that he won twice, and over seven years later still can’t figure out how he did that.
That segment of the population views Hillary Clinton, whom most of them consider the likely Democratic nominee, as an extension of President Obama. Even though they don’t think either Bernie Sanders or Martin O’Malley will beat Mrs. Clinton, they view them, or anyone else who might be the Democratic standard bearer as anathema.
One of the things I find most curious about prospective Republican voters, and Trump supporters in particular, is their apparent propensity to embrace fact-free arguments, debate points, and by definition, illogic. From my vantage point, Mr. Trump could benefit from a few doses of Pentothal, but I digress. The Trump Campaign has thrived, and has done so, not so much because it has been controversy averse, but rather because the candidate appears not only to like it, but to immerse himself in it, one after another, the more the merrier.
He utilized hyperbole right out of the gate to engender support from what has proved to be an adoring and loyal following. During the announcement of his candidacy in June, he engaged in a number of racist, xenophobic rants about Mexican immigrants. In his initial foray, he exclaimed:
“They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.”
As a generalization, that was bad enough. But The Donald was not through. In a post announcement interview, he doubled down:
“And it’s people from countries other than Mexico also. We have drug dealers coming across, we have rapists, we have killers, we have murderers.”
I’m not quite sure what distinction he was making between killers and murderers, but, once again, I digress. There was unquestionably some expectation, by traditionalists, if not reasonable thinking people, that surely the uproar over such a blatant and unbridled derisive commentary on an entire country would result in Mr. Trump walking back at least some measure of his assertion. I guess those people weren’t watching the personality that is Trump during his run on “The Apprentice.” Retreat is simply not his style; apologies are for losers.
Mr. Trump quickly glided from the Mexican controversy to insisting that John McCain is not a war hero, and from that to revealing Lindsey Graham’s cell phone number on national TV. All of this unrepentant, over the top behavior, while historic in its own right, constituted only the prelims. Pulitzer Prize winning POLITIFACT reports a litany of claims that Mr. Trump made, repeated, and defended, are found wanting…of facts and truth. I understand the Right routinely dismisses facts as Left-leaning concoctions that are inequitably applied between Democrats and Republicans. However, to paraphrase that great political figure Mitt Romney, when speaking of President Obama, Mr. Trump may be entitled to his own plane, but he is not entitled to his own facts.
To bring this discourse down to the brass tacks, here are a few examples of Mr. Trump’s loose relationship with truth, according to POLITIFACT. Mr. Trump said:
- Our real unemployment [rate] is anywhere from 18 to 20%. Don’t believe the 5.6. Don’t believe it. … The real number is anywhere from 18 to 19 and maybe even 21%.”
POLITIFACT says we see no factual basis for this claim. Trump is going well beyond the exaggeration that Mitt Romney made during the 2012 campaign that the “real” unemployment rate was 15%. And back then, the official rate was 8.3%, compared with the current rate — which is actually 5.5%, not the 5.6% Trump cited. Mr. Trump said:
- He would have blocked new Ford plants in Mexico by threatening to impose a 35% tax on vehicles and parts made in Mexico and shipped to the U.S.
But only Congress can impose taxes and such a tax would violate the North American Free Trade Agreement. Mr. Trump said:
- The five Taliban leaders exchanged for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl “are now back on the battlefield trying to kill us.”
But all five remain in Qatar, where they continue to be monitored and are subject to a travel ban, according to the State Department. False. Mr. Trump said:
- In a misleading claim that health care premium costs are going “up 29, 39, 49 and even 55%.”
He’s talking about some proposed rate increases on the individual market that still need regulatory approval. There are also proposed rate decreases or single-digit increases that did not have to be submitted for review. Mr. Trump said:
- “Last quarter, it was just announced our gross domestic product — a sign of strength, right? But not for us — it was below zero. Whoever heard of this? It’s never below zero.”
Trump messed up his economic terms; the gross domestic product was not “zero.” The size of the U.S. economy — which is what gross domestic product is — is in the trillions of dollars and not anywhere close to zero. The growth in the gross domestic product has been zero, but it’s been below zero 42 times over 68 years. That’s a lot more than “never.” We rate his claim Pants on Fire! Mr. Trump said:
- “Our enemies are getting stronger and stronger, by the way, and we as a country are getting weaker. Even our nuclear arsenal doesn’t work,” Trump said. “It came out recently they have equipment that is 30 years old. They don’t know if it worked.”
There have been problems with the U.S. nuclear program, but they have tended to be problems of people—either mismanaging the moving of weapons or personal behavior. The weapons themselves appear to be functioning fine. The Defense Department and the Energy Department are required by law to certify the safety, security, and effectiveness of the arsenal on an annual basis. While some of the weapons are aging, the United States has been engaged in a modernization effort that will cost roughly $35 billion a year during the next decade, which comes to 5 percent to 6 percent of planned national-defense spending. The bill could reach $1 trillion over the next 30 years. We rated Trump’s statement False. Mr. Trump said:
- “When did we beat Japan at anything?” Trump asked. “They send their cars over by the millions, and what do we do? When was the last time you saw a Chevrolet in Tokyo? It doesn’t exist, folks. They beat us all the time.”
There aren’t many Chevys in Japan, but they do exist. In 2014, Chevrolet sold 597 cars in Japan. No, we are not forgetting any zeroes at the end of that figure. Granted that’s not a lot, and Trump has a point that Japan does better in the United States on car sales. But he should have used more accurate words to make his point. We rated his statement Mostly False. Mr. Trump said:
- “Islamic terrorism is eating up large portions of the Middle East. They’ve become rich. I’m in competition with them,” Trump said. “They just built a hotel in Syria. Can you believe this? They built a hotel. When I have to build a hotel, I pay interest. They don’t have to pay interest, because they took the oil that, when we left Iraq, I said we should’ve taken.”
Trump has facts muddled here, too. The Islamic State didn’t build a hotel in Syria; they took over an existing hotel in Iraq. And they’re not using it to lure luxury travelers; it houses Islamic State commanders. We rated his statement False.
And then there are more recent statements by Donald Trump:
POLITIFACT: Not even close. Pants On Fire!
POLITIFACT: Totally wrong stats. Pants on Fire!
- “I watched in Jersey City, N.J., where thousands and thousands of people were cheering as the World Trade Center collapsed.”
POLITIFACT: No one remembers this but Trump. Pants on Fire!
POLITIFACT: One controversial program was shuttered. Half True!
POLITIFACT: Private and faith-based groups decide, not President Obama!
- “There are no jobs to be had.”
FactCheck.org: In fact, there were 5.4 million job openings recorded at the end of April, the most in 15 years.
There are a host of items not touched in this quick run down. Mr. Trump, like most GOP Presidential candidates, has inveighed ardently against Planned Parenthood. He has attacked at least a couple of women, including Fox News Journalist Megyn Kelly, and fellow GOP aspirant, Carly Fiorina. Recently, he appeared to mock a reporter with a disability. As usual, he just denied it, and claimed he didn’t know the reporter. In turn, the reporter claims to have interviewed Trump a number of times in his office. You know whom Trump’s supporters believe.
His antics have incited little resistance from his Republican competitors. That is in part because early on, when a few of them exercised the temerity to speak up, their poll numbers tanked. Somewhat as a result, most of the remaining candidates refrained from taking on Goliath. Then, at least one, Ted Cruz, treated him with kid gloves, allegedly operating under the theory that Trump would eventually fade, and he would be the beneficiary of those free agent voters.
As Christmas approaches, soon to be followed by the early primaries, candidates, the Party apparatus, and more than a few voters are beginning to contemplate the potential harsh reckoning of Trump, the GOP Nominee. It has been rumored that there is even a draft Romney movement being considered, if not already underway. I don’t know what will happen. I do know I will not be shocked if Donald Trump is the last (GOP) man standing. However, if he should advance, we already have a pretty good idea about the essence of Donald Trump. The far more revealing intel, in my ever so humble opinion, is what that possibility says about…”What Trump Supporters Believe: Hyperbole, Dissembling, and Falsehoods!”
I’m done; holla back!
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