If President Trump isn’t the most prolific liar in American history, he’s up there. The Washington Post found last week that over the course of his first 649 days in office, Trump made 6,420 false or misleading claims, or almost 10 per day. In the seven weeks leading up to the midterm elections, Trump has averaged 30 such claims per day. In this recent home stretch of frenzied rallies in airplane hangers, the president seems to have detached from reality completely. He has lied about health care. He has lied about tax cuts. Most notably, he has lied about a caravan of Central American migrants, an imaginary threat the government could wind up spending $200 million to substantiate.
The president doesn’t even have to open his mouth to spread disinformation. Last week, he tweeted a racist commercial warning of the dangers of illegal immigration. The ad misrepresented the caravan while highlighting a Mexican man named Luis Bracamontes bragging about how he killed two police officers. “Democrats let him into our country,” the copy reads. “Democrats let him stay.” It was later revealed that Bracamontes had been deported only to re-enter the United States under the Bush administration. During his first stint in America, he was arrested and then released from prison “for reasons unknown” by “Sheriff Joe” Arpaio, whom Trump pardoned last August. “He kept Arizona safe!” Trump tweeted at the time.
When CNN’s Jake Tapper on Sunday confronted GOP Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel over the ad’s inaccuracies, she wasn’t able to deny them, only parroting the president’s talking points about how Democrats have refused to work with Republicans on immigration reform. “I have an issue with our immigration system that’s not being fixed and Democrats have not worked with the president and we have caravans coming,” she said, later admitting that the issue is the immigration issue is the result of a “systemic failure.”
.@jaketapper on Trump immigration video: "It's factually inaccurate and it's racially incendiary. You don't have any issue with that?"
— State of the Union (@CNNSotu) November 4, 2018
It’s the president’s own party, though, that controls both houses of Congress, and as the family separation crisis reached a fever pitch this past summer, House Republicans weren’t able to come to a consensus on an immigration bill to send to the Senate. Trump was largely to blame for this, not Democrats. The reason Democrats “haven’t said one thing about the caravan” and aren’t trying to “solve the problem” of illegal immigration, as McDaniel complained, is that the caravan isn’t an actual issue, and illegal immigration has been steadily decreasing for the past 20 years. Woe be unto the Democrats, who would rather focus on health care than building a totally unnecessary border wall that will cost tens of billions of dollars.
Trump will speak on the "immigration crisis" at 4 p.m. today.
Here's a graph of illegal border crossings since 2000, per NYT: pic.twitter.com/NiZIbVN3bR
— Aaron Blake (@AaronBlake) November 1, 2018
Hours after McDaniel’s appearance on CNN, NBC aired the ad during Sunday Night Football, by far the highest-rated program on television. The network has since said that it has “decided to cease airing” the ad due to its “insensitive nature.” Too bad they already broadcast it into the homes of over 20 million Americans two days before the election. Even Fox News has deemed the ad too racist to air. “Upon further review, Fox News pulled the ad yesterday and it will not appear on either Fox News Channel or Fox Business Network,” the network’s ad sales president, Marianne Gambelli, told CNN.
Racist commercials aren’t the only reality-challenged desperation plays as the midterms draw near. His rallies have been filled with increasingly incendiary racist rhetoric, which now seems to be compounding on itself. He’s long said the Democrats are to blame for the imaginary immigration crisis, which has evolved into the idea that Democrats are encouraging illegal immigration, which has turned into Democrats wanting to gut the health care system to provide aid for illegal immigrants. At a rally in Georgia on Sunday, he claimed the left will be “raiding Medicare to fund benefits for all of the illegal immigrants that they want to pour into our country.” This led to Trump repeating what may be his most egregious lie of the campaign season: that Republicans are working to ensure protections for pre-existing conditions, and, if elected, Democrats will strip such protection. The exact opposite is true.
But health care is a complicated issue. Racism and violent rhetoric are what elicit the strongest response from Trump’s supporters, and he hasn’t failed to deliver. Irked by President Obama’s parallel campaign stops, the president dusted off some of his birtherism material while speaking at a rally in Indiana on Friday, referring to President Obama as “Barack H. Obama,” drawing the letter “H” in the air with his finger for emphasis. Obama’s middle name, Hussein, has long been used by right-wing conspiracy theorists to connect the former president to terrorism, or to indicate that he may not have been born in the United States.
Trump mentions "Barack H Obama" tonight at an Indiana rally, emphasizing the H by drawing it with his finger. Subtle. pic.twitter.com/9pfEH0gw5C
— Jon Passantino (@passantino) November 3, 2018
Two days later, while speaking in Georgia, he wondered why certain groups supporting him, including federal law enforcement, weren’t using violence to combat Antifa groups, claiming the leftist protesters have to use clubs because of their “little arms.” While speaking in Missouri last week, Trump equated all Democrats with the anti-fascist group, saying that they “run around like Antifa.”
This will get drowned out amid midterms coverage and it is a significant ratcheting up of his rhetoric https://t.co/0Xn9Lek70f
— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) November 4, 2018
Trump also falsely claimed in Georgia that gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams wants to revoke the Second Amendment, and that, if elected, she will turn Georgia “into Venezuela,” a claim he has also made about Florida gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum. Abrams and Gillum also share the distinction of repeatedly being labeled as “unqualified” by the president. Abrams is a long-tenured member of the Georgia state legislature who graduated from Yale Law School, like Trump’s second Supreme Court pick, Brett Kavanaugh. Gillum has served the city of Tallahassee since 2003, and has been its mayor since 2014.
Fearing a Democratic takeover of the House, Trump has race-baited, blamed Democrats for the country’s ills and, most of all, has lied his ass off at an unprecedented clip. His talking points are now so far removed from reality that they don’t require much digging to disprove, but, while speaking in Montana on Saturday, he lobbed a lie that even the most amateur of fact-checkers could flag as false. “I’m the only one that tells you the facts,” he said.