Honesty Might Be the Best Policy, But Sometimes It’s Too Much Work

Pretty much every day President Donald Trump says at least a couple of things that are provably and obviously untrue, but lately he’s been firing off falsehoods at an especially fast rate. With the midterm elections less than two weeks, and with Trump on a busy schedule of campaign rallies ostensibly on behalf of Republican candidates but mostly about himself, the president is also becoming even more brazen about making up facts to regale the fans.
Trump is no longer warning the faithful about the nonexistent “Open Borders Bill” he has claimed every Democrat in Congress supports, but he’s now claiming that Democrats organized the “caravan” of refugees currently walking and are planning to give each one who legally or illegally arrives in America a brand new car, possibly a Rolls-Royce. He’s insisting the marchers somehow include a large number of suspicious Middle Easterners, none of which have been noticed by any of the many international journalists covering the story, and although he admits “There’s no proof of anything” he adds that his stories “very well could be” true.
Trump is also bragging about the 10 percent tax cut that Republicans plan to pass before the midterm elections, even though that bill is also a figment of his imagination and the Congress won’t be in session to pass until after the election. He continues to brag about several other nonexistent achievements, and keeps raising the numbers about financial deals and jobs created with each successive campaign rally.
The die-hard fans don’t mind being lied to, and seem to enjoy how angry it makes the critics, but they should insist that their president at least put some more creative thought into his lies. There are indeed many Democrats more enthusiastic about mass immigration than are most Americans, but they probably wouldn’t be in Congress if they were so politically inept as to introduce something called the “Open Borders Bill,” and the falsehood makes it harder to persuade an undecided to take seriously the truer-but-harder-explain arguments against the Democrats. That bit about the free-cars-for-immigrants is an old chestnut, dating back to the days when America was admitting many of our erstwhile Vietnamese allies who were fleeing certain after the fall of Saigon, and an urban legend circulated that all of them were to be given a free Pontiac Trans-Am. As hard as that was to believe, we knew several gullible and xenophobic people who fully believed it, one of whom used to grouse all these “ornamental people” on a local radio station, but even they probably wouldn’t have bought a story about free Rolls-Royces.
A 10 percent tax cut for middle class Americans might have some political appeal, but there’s no advantage in making promises that it will happen before election day, especially when it’s so glaringly impossible. He might have at least given his fellow Republicans some forewarning of the promise, too, and spared them the embarrassment of explaining the obvious lie to their undecided constituents.
A president with a better command of the facts and the English language could make an honest and persuasive case for the Republican positions on immigration and taxes, but Trump finds dishonesty easier. The die-hard fans don’t mind, but they won’t like it if those undecided voters who will go to the polls in less than two weeks are less inclined to believe even the most worthy Republican candidate’s more honest and most persuasive arguments.

— Bud Norman

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