Littwin: Trump calls for a truce, but only if it means he can have everything he wants

WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 05: Speaker Nancy Pelosi gestures to President Donald Trump during the State of the Union address in the U.S. House of Representatives on February 5, 2019. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Like many of you out there, I have my personal favorite lie from Donald Trump’s State of the Union speech. But before I get to the reveal — there were so many lies to choose from; in fact, The Washington Post fact-checkers put the number at just under 30 — let’s review.

I’m sure many of you went with the obvious — the speech’s theme of comity (or was it comedy?), in which Trump would ask for all parties to put aside their differences in service to America.

No one believes Trump cares a whit about comity, of course. We might as well be asked to believe that those Virginia Democrats had dressed in blackface to promote racial unity. And so when Trump said, “We must reject the politics of revenge, resistance and retribution and embrace the boundless potential of cooperation, compromise and the common good,” Nancy Pelosi rose in mock applause, smirking as Trump looked back at her. It was the meme of the night.

But Trump had let us in on the joke before even giving the speech, telling a group of TV news anchors that afternoon that Joe Biden was “dumb” and Chuck Schumer was a “nasty son of a bitch.” The next day, as if to emphasize the point, he was calling Rep. Adam Schiff “a partisan hack” for having the nerve to launch a House committee version of the Russia probe.

Look, history has taught us to expect little from State of the Union speeches. But history went overboard Tuesday night in the matter of one Donald J. Trump. 

Trump’s expected big line in the speech — one that was met with near silence — outlined his idea of what cooperation means in Trumpworld: “If there is going to be peace and legislation,” he said, “there cannot be war and investigation. It just doesn’t work that way.”

Trump’s idea of cooperation: No investigation or no peace. The issue isn’t really comity at all. Trump wants a truce, but, of course, only on his terms. This is the man who just gave us a 35-day partial government shutdown and is now threatening another. This is the man who threatens to avoid Congress altogether and build his ridiculous wall by declaring a fake national emergency. But he wants a truce.

On this point — while never mentioning the shutdown — Trump was all in. He cited an “economic miracle,” a claim he backs with often exaggerated numbers, and then insists the only things that could wreck this miracle are “foolish wars, politics or ridiculous partisan investigations.”

He didn’t mention that the so-called miracle happened even as the long list of Trump associates were being indicted in Bob Mueller’s Russia probe, which he usually refers to as a hoax. But give him credit, he knew his audience well enough to know that a mention of hoax would have been roundly booed. 

His second major point was the so-called crisis on the southern border. The two issues are related. Trump needs either a victory on the wall to appease his base or to keep alive the idea of constant crisis that can be resolved only if Nancy Pelosi would relent on the wall.

And so illegal immigration was the other major point of the speech. He skipped through a few other issues — infrastructure got, I think, 20 seconds — and warmed hearts with moving stories of cancer survivors and Holocaust survivors, had a surprisingly funny moment with the Democratic women in white, but mostly he wanted to warn us of a new round of caravans “on the march to the United States.” Democrats groaned at Trump’s conflation of those fleeing violence in Central American with “ruthless coyotes, cartels, drug dealers and human traffickers.”

Trump has already announced he is sending thousands more troops to the border to, presumably, set up more barbed wire. I don’t know if this is the worst abuse of Trump’s reign, but it’s close. It’s certainly fear-mongering at a high level even for Trump, and it’s a misallocation of American military power against a flood of families, many of them seeking asylum, which is, as we know, entirely legal. What is wrong is wasting money on moving troops to the border that could be used to address what is a humanitarian crisis.

Which brings me to my favorite lie of the night. It’s my favorite because I had never heard it and because it so easily fact-checkable that you just can’t believe the president of the United States would go there. (Actually, you can believe it. The fact that you can believe it is what’s unbelievable.)

In pushing for wall funding, Trump stood up to claim that El Paso, Texas, once had “extremely high rates of violent crime,” making it “one of our nation’s most dangerous cities.” But then a wall was built and “now with a powerful barrier in place, El Paso is one of our safest cities.”

El Paso is a border town across from Ciudad Juarez, which is, in fact, a highly dangerous city. But El Paso was one of America’s safest cities before a wall was built in 2008-2009 and is one of the safest cities now. The El Paso Times fact-checked Trump’s claim  and found that El Paso had the third-lowest crime rate of cities with more than 500,000 residents in the three years before the construction of a 57-mile-long fence. Two years after the fence was built, violent crime in El Paso had increased by 17 percent, which, I’m sure, had nothing to do with the wall and was still quite low by urban standards.

If Trump cared about the truth, he could use some of his long hours of executive time to check out the facts. Now that would be a true fact-check-proof miracle.

13 COMMENTS

  1. Two Scoops never grew up past about the age of 5. He’s never been told ‘NO”, and anyone who ever tried paid a price. This POS has NO clue what it is to share, to be considerate, to give a damn about anyone or anything but HIMSELF. EVERY time he talks about “fairness”, he means that HE gets what HE wants and everyone else walks away with NOTHING. FAIR? HORSE SQUAT. This “man” is NOT an adult, never has been. He’s still a damn 5 year old, whining about how it’s just not FAIR if he doesn’t get everything he wants. TO HELL WITH THIS POS!

    This country needs an ADULT in the office. NOT this CHILD in a fat, ugly. stupid old man’s body. Someone who has a CLUE of how the government works, someone who has the mental ability to THINK, to SPEAK, to READ. This MORON has NONE of these. Thank God he only works 40% of the time, we’d be a burning wreck by now if he put in a whole day at a time. How ANYONE can look at what this IDIOT is doing and think this is a good thing is ENTIRELY beyond me. But then, I CARE what happens to the PEOPLE of this country, not just the MONEY.

    Maybe if republicans dealt with REALITY instead of just wanting to piss off the left with every breath, this country wouldn’t be at each other’s throats like this. After all, all those on the left ever tried to do was make you life better. All you’re trying to do is destroy everyone’s for the sake of the top 1%. I have news for you: The 1% doesn’t NEED your help. They already own 90% of EVERYTHING in this country. How much of that do you think they are willing to share with YOU because you gave it all to them? I’m STILL waiting for my great, new trickle down job from REAGAN. How many more decades of voting to SCREW YOURSELVES OVER will it take before you people wake the hell up and realize you’re just screwing YOURSELVES while you THINK you’re screwing US. BIG news flash, kids: What you wish on the rest of us comes back down on YOU, too. It’s called being a SOCIETY, something you people don’t believe in, apparently. What happens to SOME of us tends to happen to ALL of us, or at least it does to those of us in the lower 99%. Maybe you should wake up to that fact. Too bad you won’t.

  2. The lasting image from Comrade Trump’s latest sales pitch is Pelosi dog walking Trump by clapping at him as if congratulating a child who has just managed not to shit their pants.

    Brilliant.

    This is what happens when you let the minority rule…

  3. “About three-quarters of those who tuned in to the State of the Union on Tuesday approved of what President Trump said in the address, according to two instant polls.

    A CBS News poll found that 76 percent of speech-watchers approved of Trump’s remarks, and 72 percent specifically approved of what he had to say about immigration. Additionally, 71 percent of those polled agreed with Trump that there is a crisis on the southern border. Twenty-four percent of respondents disapproved of the speech.

    Meanwhile, CNN found that 59 percent of speech-watchers had a very positive reaction, up from 48 percent in 2018, while 17 percent had a somewhat positive reaction, and only 23 percent had a negative reaction. CNN’s poll was conducted by speaking to 584 U.S. adults who watched the speech, and the margin of error is 5.4 percentage points.” – theweek.com

  4. Don Lopez — there is a pretty clear reason for the positive showings in the CNN and CBS polls. Both qualified their survey by talking with those who watched the speech.

    CNN explained in their article: “But the audience had the largest partisan tilt measured in any CNN instant poll following a presidential address to Congress dating back to 2001 — viewers were roughly 17 points more likely than the general public to identify as Republicans, and were largely fans of the President. In pre-speech surveys, 61% of speech-watchers said they approved of the job he was doing as President, compared with 40% in CNN’s latest representative survey of all American adults.”

    CBS pointed out their poll had a similar lean: “In the latest CBS national poll released last month, 25 percent of Americans identified themselves as Republicans. Among those who watched Tuesday night’s address, that figure was 43 percent, and Republicans helped bolster the overall approval of the address.”

  5. What happens to Matt Whitaker now that he’s refusing to testify without incurring “executive privilege”?

    You still on the Trump Train or is the fever breaking?

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