Opinion | Muftic: Trump’s rocky road with truth and facts
We should have known by January 2017 we were in for a rocky ride with truth and facts when we elected a TV star for president who created and lived in his own reality. Remember when Donald Trump told us not to believe our eyes when pictures of President Obama’s inauguration attendees were shown side by side with pictures taken at Trump’s inauguration? Obama’s crowd size was visually larger yet he still claimed through his spokesperson that his was the biggest inauguration crowd in history. A year-and-a-half later, he is still asking you not to believe your very eyes.
“Just remember: what you’re seeing and what you’re reading is not what’s happening,” Trump told a VFW audience this July.
That Donald Trump has problems with truth and facts is an understatement.
Trump’s spokespeople have had their challenges when they have been confronted with data and overwhelming evidence that contradicts what the President has claimed. White House counselor Kellyanne Conway will go down in history for calling evidence to the contrary “alternative facts” and Trump’s newest personal attorney, Rudy Guiliani is famous for saying that “truth isn’t truth” in testimonies to law enforcement.
Of course, that is what jury trials are all about, to find what is true. The recent trial of Paul Manafort was very instructive. The paperwork was overwhelming evidence enough to find him guilty and to qualify Manafort for jail time. Sometimes just being confronted with the evidence is enough. Donald Trump’s former personal attorney Michael Cohen found tape recordings were strong enough proof of his wrongdoing, motivating him to cop a plea and to implicate Trump as the one who directed him to cover up and run hush money through a corporation.
Too bad we cannot subject politician’s untruth tales to juries, too. It is not a crime to lie from the podium though it is a crime to lie under oath. Donald Trump has told some public untruths lately to bolster his most important policies. To rev up his crowd, he still often claims illegal immigrants were causing more crime than those who were born here, citing figures that did not prove his point, per independent, non-partisan Factcheck.org. This fact checker concluded “the available research that estimates the relationship between illegal immigration and crime generally shows an association with lower crime rates.” At the Naval Academy graduation the president orated about his foreign policy that, “We are respected again, I can tell you that.” However, an early 2018 Gallup poll found median approval of U.S. leadership dropped substantially in all but a few of the 65 countries and areas they polled, now at 30 percent, down from 48 percent in 2016. While Trump deserves credit for continuing a trend of economic growth, he boasted that he was the first in years to show a quarter’s GDP growth of 4 percent. That figure was an easy target for fact checker Politifact.com since there was government data showed President Obama had achieved that record four times while he was president.
There is a pattern here. Whenever the facts fail to support his oratory and tweets , Trump and his supporters thump the table loudly, repeat debunked talking points, call challengers bad names, uninformed, or unbelievable solely because they consider anything a lie that comes from who they see as the enemy. It works for his base. 91 percent of strong Trump supporters polled by CBS Battle Ground States trust Trump for accurate information over family and friends, and mainstream media. However, a recent NBC/You Gov poll found 60 percent of the American people say Trump is usually dishonest. “You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time,” is a folk wisdom saying attributed to Abraham Lincoln.
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