Trump’s biggest lie: “Promises made, promises kept.”
The Trump administration has been an unqualified failure, but yet people still somehow defend it
To give Trump credit, he is extremely good at one thing: lying. He lies with such facility that it is breathtaking. As soon as I say something that approaches an untruth, my conscience attacks me. Trump obviously has no such compunction.
Just today, responding to Jeffrey Goldberg’s article in The Atlantic quoting Trump as calling American war heroes “losers” and “suckers,” Trump claimed that he had never called former U.S. Senator and war hero John McCain a “loser.” Unfortunately for Trump, there is video.
Never was the reality distortion engineered by Trump and his cronies on greater display than at the recent Republican National Convention. According to Mike Pence, for example, Trump handled the coronavirus crisis splendidly. White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany, who famously began her tenure as White House press secretary by pledging “I will never lie to you,” claimed that Trump is trying to make sure pre-existing conditions are covered. Then there’s Kellyanne Conway claiming that Trump is respectful of women. And the former acting director of national intelligence Richard Grenell claiming that Trump had “charmed” Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel. All these claims fly in the face of the truth, which is in general nothing to brag about.
But to me, the most outrageous claim at the convention came from Dana White, the president of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). White claimed that “President Trump may be the only president in modern times who has actually done everything he’s said he would do during his campaign.”
This is not the first time I have heard this claim. Trump has been touting his “promises made, promises kept” message on billboards and throughout Twitter. Indeed, given the sorry state of American society as a result of his leadership, his claim that he did what he promised is his last remaining justification for re-election that does not rely upon a conspiracy theory.
Unfortunately, nothing could be further from the truth. According to PolitiFact, Trump has broken nearly half his promises (49 percent), more than double the amount he has kept at just 24 percent. Indeed, those numbers are almost the exact opposite of the ratings for Barack Obama, who kept 48 percent of his promises and broke only 24 percent.
What’s more is that some of the promises allegedly kept are at best dubious. For example, PolitiFact argues that Trump kept his promise not to make cuts to Social Security. However, they acknowledge that Trump proposed cuts to Social Security. Congress just didn’t pass them.
Similarly, Trump promised not to take a salary, and indeed, he has donated his government salary. But that donation is dwarfed by the amount of money taxpayers are paying to Trump-owned properties. And he has made millions more from lobbyists and other interest groups trying to curry the President’s favor by renting Trump properties. So I guess that’s a promise kept…
Furthermore, Trump promised to increase tariffs on imports to the U.S. Again, that is a promise kept. But the underlying issue, the U.S. trade deficit, is now worse than it has been at any point since 2008. So our trade deficit is worse, and we are paying more for goods and services.
You don’t need a research website to tell you that Trump has not kept many of his key campaign promises. We all know about the wall that Mexico was going to pay for. We also know that there is very little wall, and what there is, Mexico isn’t paying for. Of the nearly 2000 mile border separating us from our southern neighbor, according to the Department of Homeland Security, only 307 have been built, although that figure is disputed. According to the Los Angeles Times, “only about ‘three miles of new border wall system [have been] constructed in locations where no barriers previously existed,’ according to Homeland Security’s June 19 status report on the wall.” And the cost of $20 million per mile is being borne entirely by the U.S. taxpayers.
Similarly, Trump promised to eliminate the national debt. Instead, it has balooned to its highest level since World War II. And claims that this increase in the debt was caused by the coronavirus are overstated. The real reason the national debt has exploded was due to Trump’s tax give-away to the rich. Oh well.
So how can his supporters claim that he has kept his promises despite such conspicuous failures? They do so by taking him seriously, not literally, as The Atlantic explained. They know Trump has a case of verbal diarrhea. When he says crazy things, they just attribute it to his mercurial nature. What matters to them is the underlying message.
And here, Trump has delivered in spades. What is Trump’s underlying message? That he will defend white America from the change the growing population of people of color and their allies advocate. If that was his implicit promise to his supporters, he has done everything he can to antagonize the people who do not support to America’s racist institutions. In that way, then, Trump has delivered for his supporters.
So in some respects, if we ignore the actual words Trump has spoken, he has been just the President white racist America wanted. The question remains if this is the kind of President the rest of America wants.