I honestly do worry that I’m getting dangerously obsessed with Mr. Trump. I also worry that I might pass the point from which I can be fair to him, in my writing, if he happens to say something factual or rational or deserving of respect, but I will continue to look for such opportunities.
Yesterday, when he gave a televised address holding Hillary Clinton responsible for pretty much everything that’s wrong in the world, and then when I heard that address described by CNN journalists as serious, substantive and “presidential,” I went a little crazy and denounced the speech as “almost 100 percent … new, special, great again, Trumpian … hyperbole and oversimplification, mixed with well-documented lies he has long been repeating.”
After getting that off my chest, I was, as I said just above, worried that my growing horror over the political success of Trumpism had biased my perceptions. So I was slightly relieved, on a personal level, but still just as horrified for what the rise of Trump says about the health of our American experiment with democracy, when the fact-checkers started wading through the speech.
Here’s the fact-check assembled by the Associated Press, a news organization generally viewed as at the cautious, unbiased, nothing-but-the-facts, eat-your-spinach portion of the spectrum. I’ve never seen an AP piece like this and I’ve never seen a harsher review of the honesty/facticity of a major address by a serious presidential candidate.
Please click through and read the whole thing. If you don’t, here are a couple of low/highlights, contained in the first section of the AP piece, which gave credit to 10 different AP journalists who checked various Trump statements (and, bear in mind, the excerpt below is less than a fourth of the whole piece and you should really read the whole thing. Trump’s contempt for facts and honesty is breathtaking):
Donald Trump’s fierce denunciation of Hillary Clinton on Wednesday was rife with distortion.
He accused Clinton of announcing a withdrawal from Iraq that wasn’t on her watch, pulled numbers out of nowhere on her plan for refugees and went beyond the established facts behind the killing of the U.S. ambassador to Libya in stating starkly that she ‘left him there to die.’ In doing so, he assigned her far more influence in the world than she exercised as secretary of state.
A look at some of his assertions and how they stack up with the facts:
TRUMP: ‘In just four years, Secretary Clinton managed to almost single-handedly destabilize the entire Middle East.’ He blamed her for an invasion of Libya that ‘handed the country over to ISIS,’ for making Iran the dominant Islamic power in the region and for supporting regime change in Syria that led to a bloody civil war. He charged that her ‘disastrous strategy’ of announcing a departure date from Iraq created another opening for ISIS there.
THE FACTS: These statements make only passing acquaintance with reality.
There was no U.S. invasion of Libya. Clinton initially opposed but then sought credit for the NATO-led air campaign to help rebels overthrow Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi in 2011. (Trump spoke in support of U.S. intervention at the time.) While the violence destabilized Libya, Islamic State inroads there have been more recent and are largely limited to a small coastal area of the country.
Arguments about Iranian domination of the Middle East predate Clinton’s tenure, going back a decade to the George W. Bush administration’s deposing of Saddam Hussein in neighboring Iraq.
While secretary of state, Clinton supported arming Syria’s moderate rebels, but the Islamic State group only arrived later. It’s unclear what effect such a policy would have had as President Barack Obama rejected the advice at the time.
And she had nothing to do with the ‘disastrous strategy’ of giving a departure date from Iraq. It was the George W. Bush administration that announced the planned withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq in 2008.