President Donald Trump took a break from summer vacation at his personal New Jersey sleepover camp to try to persuade people in New Hampshire to back his reelection. And he gave them every reason to not do so - by lying.
Though being lied to has not been a deal-killer for his supporters in the past.
Fact-checking Trump has given rise to something of a cottage industry, so there's no need to run through all the lies and shadings of truth from the New Hampshire speech.
And by Trumpian standards, Thursday's outpouring was rather run-of-the-mill. Statistically, when you spit out in public more than 12,000 "falsehoods or misleading claims" (as the Washington Post quaintly phrases it) in 2 1/2 years, for an average of 13 a day (and he doesn't speak publicly every day), it makes it hard for individual lies to get the attention they deserve.
But here's a couple of points from Thursday worth noting.
First, on the economy:
"I won the election, the markets went up thousands of points, things started happening," Trump said. "If, for some reason, I were not to have won the election, these markets would have crashed. That will happen even more so in 2020. You have no choice but to vote for me, because your 401(k), everything is going to be down the tubes."
Um, at best Trump has managed not to kill the recovery that began during the Obama administration following the last recession. He did goose it a bit with that boneheaded tax cut that rewarded the wealthy on the backs of the middle and lower economic classes, and all of our children and grandchildren, but that's fading.
And his temper-tantrum approach to tariffs has so rattled global trade that we may well be on the verge of a Trump recession. For which, of course, he'll try to blame Obama. Or Hillary Clinton. Or socialists. Or the scary man under the bed.
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Second, and this is more significant, Trump backed off again from his call in the wake of the El Paso and Dayton, Ohio, shootings for a bipartisan movement toward "strong background checks" (apparently all it took was a phone call with the National Rifle Assn. to talk him out of his momentary flirtation with common sense).
Yet speaking to the New Hampshire crowd, Trump reverted to the gun-lobby talking point that "it's not the gun that pulls the trigger. It's the person holding the gun."
Sigh. Yes, of course the person pulls the trigger. That's how guns work. But if there was no gun in the person's hand, there would be no trigger to pull, a reality the president conveniently omits. Kind of like if there's no nuclear weapon in your backyard, there's no weapon of mass destruction for you to launch. Reductio ad absurdum? Fittingly for this administration, yes.
Trump's flip-flop on background checks is not a lie or misleading statement, no, but it is yet another in an unending series of whipsawing positions that, when added to the gusher of lies, makes it clear that only a fool would believe a word this president says.
Because he will say anything.
ABOUT THE WRITER
Scott Martelle, who joined the editorial board in 2014, is a veteran journalist and author of six history books.
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