Sorry, Virginia. I never swallowed the Santa Claus hoax, and Trump is still Trump.
I’ll grant that President Donald Trump’s address to Congress last night was decidedly different in tone and delivery than his usual shoot-from-the-lip word salad that he tosses all over the intertubes. And behind a somewhat more polished delivery last night was Trump’s same, divisive, lying and delusional rhetoric that he’s mesmerized his fans with for months now.
I had hoped for details and logic. All I got was bullshit — albeit delivered without the president singing completely off key.
Right after he finished reading his teleprompter address with all the flourish of first-day telemarketer, the GOP crowd went wild, lauding Trump for being so “presidential.” Presidential? Are you kidding me? More like that relief you feel when your dog only quietly growls and doesn’t hump your neighbors’ legs when they stop by. Set the bar low enough and even Trump can be presidential.
I don’t want it to be the usual malarkey. When Trump was talking about all the country rallying together for the good of everyone, I desperately want to believe that he believes that. And more importantly, that he is willing and able to make it happen. I’m thinking compromise. Trump is thinking capitulation.
But as is the case with almost everything Trump says, it’s meaningless. He does something that belies what he says. He talks in obscure, circular, vagaries about draining “the swamp,” and then he appoints a cabinet filled with crony billionaires and bankers and people who just don’t have a clue. He talks about moving away from the country’s polarizing culture of blame and hate, and then he says that illegal immigrants are to reason for the bulk of the country’s woes. Because 11 million people have ruined it for 320 million of the rest of us.
Besides the allusions to a history of American incompetence that’s he come to save us from, he delivered truckloads of crap that are dangerous outright lies and propaganda. Despite what he says, there has been no flood of refugees to this country who go from their ISIS indoctrination camps straight to the airport and then to an unsuspecting American community near you. The country is not plagued by crime-ridden chaos. Crime rates have fallen dramatically since the 1990s. The economy is not in shambles. The last eight years saw a stunning turnaround, moving America away from the brink of economic Armageddon. The United States has seen the largest, sustained period of job growth ever. Interest rates have remained rock bottom. Inflation has been non-existent. The stock market has made unprecedented gains. The economy has slogged through one of the worst financial episodes in U.S. history. The facts don’t back up what he says.
But setting aside what turned out to be a better delivered script, there was the usual mean and hateful push to demonize illegal immigrants. In the evening’s most stunning move, Trump announced that he would create a special agency to offer support to American victims of crimes committed by illegal immigrants. It was an astounding moment that took the breath away from much of Congress and me. Never mind that such a move diminishes the victims of crimes not committed by non-citizens. What it does is push Americans into believing that “real” Americans are being beaten or murdered by illegal immigrants at such a rate that the federal government needs to move in and help out.
It’s total propaganda that’s meant to either condition the country for the Great American Roundup of illegal aliens, or simply make a false case for a ludicrously expensive and ineffective wall. It’s meant to turn scared and ignorant white Americans against minority immigrants, and it’s working.
Trump said he wants to make life easier for small businesses, but then he said he wants to ensure Americans get paid family leave and higher wages for menial jobs when illegal immigrants are chased out of the country. He spelled out an answer to repealing Obamacare that sounded almost exactly like Obamacare, except that insurance companies would never go for a plan that forces them to take care of sick people as health care prices soar after providers hand out free care to an explosion of medically indigent and uninsured Americans.
I’ll stipulate that it was a relief to see Trump behave less erratically and refrain from spending time calling out the growing list of people and things he hates and fears. But the bulk of the speech was filled with the usual exaggerations, erroneous conclusions and outright fabrications and lies just like all the others.
And most likely, none of it even matters.
Tomorrow, he’ll start unravelling his campaign promises in deeds to match his words. Like so many of Trump’s critics, I’m hoping that I’m going to be proven dead wrong about what Trump is about the do, and how dangerous it will be for the economy, the poor, the middle class, minorities, immigrants, women, gays, refugees and just about everyone but the rich.
So, President Trump. Surprise us. Surprise the whole country. Surprise the whole world.
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